The UK is a great place to study higher education, with over 40,000 courses available at nearly 500 universities and colleges. If you currently live outside the UK, you will probably have lots of questions about how to apply to study in the UK, the funding that is available to you, and what it is like to settle into a new country as a student.
Our guide for international applicants provides advice and practical tips to support you through the process of researching the best options for you, applying to your chosen course and ensuring you have all the information you need to start your higher education journey. You can also find out our key points in the sections below.
Applying from outside the UK
There are lots of things to consider when thinking about applying to a university or college in the UK.
You can search for undergraduate courses in the UK on Discover Uni. Each course page will provide information about that course, including links to their own website and their contact details. Our how to choose a course section provides information to help you to find a course that is right for you.
You will usually need to apply for your chosen course through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). You can apply for up to five different courses (at any university or college) . Details of the application process and deadlines for courses starting in 2022 can be found on the UCAS website.
If you miss a deadline, you can still apply for a course through a system called 'Clearing'. There’s information in our downloadable guide and UCAS has details about Clearing on its website.
Once you have applied, you will receive updates on your application through UCAS Track. Track will help you to see and reply to offers you have been given.
If you want to study part time, or want to apply for a distanced learning course, you may need to apply to your chosen university or college directly. You will be able to find out more information on their websites, or you can contact them to discuss in more detail.
Once you have been offered a place on a course in the UK, you will need to apply for a student visa to ensure that you are able to travel to and live in the UK for the duration of your course.
The student route is a points-based visa system for all international students, including EU, EEA and Swiss students, who want to study in the UK. All international students on degree courses need to apply through the student route, including those from Europe coming to the UK to begin a course.
You will be asked to evidence certain requirements in order to obtain a student visa when you first come to the UK:
- Your student sponsor (the university or college that has offered you a place) will assess your ability to read, write, speak and understand English. Your student sponsor will tell you how it will assess your English, and the level of English you must have, which is subject to minimum levels set by the Home Office.
- To satisfy visa requirements, you must be able to show that you have finances to pay for your studies and living expenses.
Official guidance on the student visa, including details of the above requirements and how to apply can be found on the UK Government’s website . You may also find the visa information on the UKCISA website useful.
Things you need to do before travelling to the UK
You do not need to take any COVID-19 tests or quarantine on arrival in the UK, irrespective of your vaccination status.
However, you should keep checking the latest guidance for advice on how to keep you and your family safe when travelling.
Check the latest travel guidance for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
Other countries may have rules about what you need to do to leave the country to travel to England, so make sure you check travel advice for the country you are travelling from.
Anybody aged 18 or over in the UK is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. The COVID-19 vaccination is free of charge and does not count as the kind of care that requires payment.
Find out more about how to get the COVID-19 vaccination in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Further advice and guidance
You can contact your university or the international office at your university to find out about the measures they have in place to support you. Below are some additional resources:
- The UK government website – to find up-to-date information on travel restrictions and advice.
- UK council for international student affairs (UKCISA) – has lots of information and advice for international students.
- UCAS website – has lots of information and offers you the chance to talk to international students currently studying in the UK.
If you are applying as an international, non-UK, EU or EEA (European Economic Area) student, you should check the fees for your course and any support on your uni or college website.
International students can apply for access to student loans only if they meet particular conditions - please see our guide for international students for more information. If you are an EU student, Irish citizen or UK national living in the EEA or Switzerland, please check the UKCISA explanation of the fees regulations and guidance for your relevant area of the UK: England; Scotland; Wales or Northern Ireland.
For the latest announcements on student finance access, see the UKCISA website.
There are a limited number of scholarships available to international students studying undergraduate courses. In most cases you will need to have received an offer of a place from a university or college before you can apply for a scholarship. Please see the UKCISA website for more information on scholarships.
Arriving in the UK
Moving to a new country is exciting, but there’s a lot to think about too. Read our tips below to ensure you are prepared for your arrival in the UK.
- Make sure that you have arranged suitable accommodation for the duration of your time in the UK. Your university or college will be able to help you with this. Check our guide for international students for further information.
- If you have been granted a visa, make sure to check the details of the visa and whether you need to register with a police force in the UK. To see the details of this, check the visa sticker in your passport. Please see the latest information available from UKCISA and the updated guidance from the UK government.
- When you get to the UK, you will need to open a bank account to have access to money in the UK. UKCISA provides details of how to open a bank account as an international student.
- COVID-19 restrictions have been removed across the UK, but you can check the latest guidance for England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Your university or college will be able to discuss any queries you have about how the pandemic may affect their teaching, assessment and support. Their student support teams will be happy to discuss any personal concerns you may have.
- Your university or college will have provided you with a list of documents to provide when you start your course. Take time to make sure you have packed everything you need, allowing yourself plenty of time to order any replacements or extra documents if needed.
Remember that your university or college should be your first port of call with queries about your course, accommodation, or immigration status. They will be happy to answer any queries you may have.