The facility for undergraduate admissions in the UK is The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Students should submit their applications to the UCAS website before the 15th January for entry in the next academic year, or 15th October for Oxford and Cambridge as well as most medical, dentistry and veterinary courses. At postgraduate level, students apply directly to the university or college which runs their chosen course.
Every course has varying requirements which must be satisfied to gain entry at that level – these reflect the academic ability that will be required to successfully complete the course. Therefore, UCAS asks for information about completed or ongoing qualifications, which can be given in an international equivalent to the UK system of GCSEs and A Levels. Universities also ask for a personal statement to set you apart from other candidates – as an international student, it would be advisable to include your reasons for wanting to study in the UK in your personal statement. Finally, if you are a non-native speaker, you may be asked to prove your proficiency in the language by taking a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Half of UK universities now have courses that also require an entrance examination.
Students from countries within the EU/EEA need not apply for a visa for studying in the UK, however all other international students will require one. Visas and general immigration enquiries are handled by UK Visas and Immigration – online application forms can be found on their website and should be submitted there. The process can be stressful, so be sure to leave plenty of time for your application – you can apply for a visa up to three months before the start date of your course.
There are three different types of student visas for different durations of study, as detailed below:
Short-Term Visa: This visa is for students who are over 18 years old planning on undertaking a short program of study, including an English language or training course, or a short research period as part of a study abroad program. The short-term visa is valid for up to six months, and once expired cannot be extended. Obtaining this visa does not allow you to work in the UK, including placements or work experience.
Tier 4 (General) Student Visa : This general visa is for students aged 16 or over who have been offered a place on a longer-term course, and allows you to stay for a greater duration of time than a short-term visa. It also permits the holder to work in most jobs, and to extend the visa should they choose to study further.
Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa : This visa is for students aged 17 or under who wish to undertake school-level education in the United Kingdom. Depending on your age and the length of the course, this student visa could allow you to stay in the UK for up to 6 years. It also permits those aged 16 or over to work part-time during term, and full-time during holidays.