Study in the UK: A complete guide for international students 
The UK is one of the most preferred study destinations for international students. The world-class universities, safe environment, well-compensated career, and multicultural experience are some irresistible factors that the UK offers to global students.
As a result, “Study in the UK for international students” has been and will continue to be a trend and a smart decision for international students.
UK education is known for both practical approach and robust research. According to the classification made by Research Excellence Framework (REF), 46% of UK universities are internationally excellent and 30% of UK universities are world-leading.
Additionally, UK is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with high quality of life.
For students seeking an affordable English language education and location, the UK is definitely one of the best options, if not the best.
In this blog, students will find the top reasons to study in the UK, best universities in the UK, Cost of study in UK for international students, visa for study in UK, and main requirements to study in UK for international students.
Why study in the UK?
For decades, the UK has managed to stay as one of the top destinations for international students. Ever wondered why the UK allures more than 300,000 international students every year?
Below listed are some of the main benefits of studying in the UK and why international students are flocking there.
Internationally recognized universities and degrees
British education, British universities, and British degrees are among the best in the world. The top-notch universities like Oxford University, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London etcetera. The UK degrees are respected by top companies in the world. So, with a UK degree- management, science, engineering, arts, law and any other- in your portfolio, you are more likely to get placed with huge enterprises.
Countless courses of different disciplines.
UK universities and colleges provide a number of courses for international students willing to pursue their interests. Some of the top degrees in the UK for international students are computer science, law, psychology, modern language, health & medicines and management.
The course-based and research-based coursework in the UK makes up for the remarkable quality of education. By the end of their education, the students won’t just have a degree but also optimal skills and education to pursue a meaningful career. In most UK universities, the lecturers and teachers are qualified, research standards are met, teachings and learnings are assessed.
Furthermore, students are put into placements and internships so that they can learn practically too.
Work while you study
Students can indulge in part-time job opportunities (Maximum 20 Hours Per Week). This will sharpen their language skills and also add some experience. Students can earn some decent money while studying (1000 to 1500 pounds per month)in the UK.
Students are allowed to work full time (40 hours a week) during the term break time. Furthermore, you will have to ask your university or college for the term break reference letter to show to the employer.
This will help the needy students with the living expenses and also university tuition fees.
You are allowed to work if your visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) states any of the following (Or Similar)-
- Work must be authorised
- Able to work as authorised by The Secretary of State
- Work Limited 20hrs P/W term time
Note that you are not allowed to work if your visa or BRP states 'No Work' or 'Employment Prohibited’while studying in term time in the UK.
Affordable fees structure
Generally, the tuition fees structure of UK universities and colleges will be different for UK-born students, European Union (EU) students, and international students.
The tuition fees for international students (not holding the nationality of UK and EU nations) are comparatively higher.
Nevertheless, the tuition fees of UK universities are lower when compared with the fees structure of other countries (Up to USD 15,000 a year and sometimes more depending on the university and more specialized courses).
Work after study
After completing your degree in the UK, you stay back for a year and more and gain some valuable experience.
The rich British culture
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the vibrant and rich British culture? Studying in the UK will make you a part of that rich tradition. Since the UK is a famous hub for international students, you are likely to meet diverse people of diverse cultures.
Perhaps, you will learn a new language. Or, maybe you will pick up a thing or two about a new culture.
Best ranking universities in UK
The UK boasts some of the best universities in the UK for international students. These universities are:
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- Universal College London
- The University of Edinburgh
- The University of Manchester
- King’s College London
- The London School of Economics and Political Science
- University of Bristol
- The University of Warwick
- University of Glasgow
- Durham University
These universities are known for the best and up-to-date curriculum of subjects like law, business management, language, economics etcetera. If you want to know more about these universities’ UK rankings and global rankings, check out these top-ranking UK universities in 2021.
Quick facts about study in the UK
- The UK has 4 of 10 world’s best universities according to QS world rankings.
- London Business School is considered the best institute to study business
- There are over 400,000 international students in the UK.
- The UK is utterly safe for international students.
- The UK has a nice VISA acceptance rate (more than 85%).
Best and Low-cost universities in the UK for International students
- Coventry University (About £14,000 per year)
- The University of Sunderland (About £11,000 per year)
- Leeds Trinity University (About £12,000 per year)
- London Metropolitan University (About £14,000 per year)
- York St John University (About £17,250 per year)
- University of Cumbria (About £10,500 per year)
- Plymouth Marjon University (About £11,000 per year)
- The University of the West of Scotland (About £10,600 per year)
- Royal Agricultural University (About £10,000 per year)
- Staffordshire University (About £14,000 per year)
How to apply for the UK?
- Find an appropriate course and university
- Check the requirements
- Develop a personal statement
- Arrange your documents and apply to the university or college (Pay the application fees)
- Wait for an admission letter from the university
- Arrange finances
- Apply for Visa
- Ace the Visa Interview
- Arrive in UK for further studies
Requirements to study in UK for International Students
The entry requirements for studying in the UK depend on the nationality of the students and the levels of study. Nevertheless, these requirements can be more or less summarized in the following points.
Academic documents and SOP
The academic documents are required to authenticate your qualifications and grade. The documents are the academic transcripts, character certificate, and provisional certificate.
The demanded percentage or GPA can highly fluctuate depending on the courses and levels you are applying for.
You will need the most basic score of 2.4 GPA or 45%.
In competitive universities, students are required to present academic excellence.
For some universities, SOP is also a requirement. You will have to develop a well-presented SOP listing down your academic endeavours, accomplishments, and why you chose the UK.
There are some excellent UK universities that demand a student to appear on an entrance test. Based on the results of these tests, the universities select the most eligible students.
These tests are not sought out by every UK university.
Nationality, acceptance, and ID documents
Personal ID, recent photograph, citizenship, and passport are needed. You will also require evidence from Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the course provider- college or university.
English Proficiency Tests like IELTS or PTE
Students should present their English capabilities. The IELTS/ PTE score requirement is higher for masters in science and MBA courses. IELTS is more widely accepted in the UK since it was developed by British academics, British council to be more precise.
But, a few universities also accept TOEFL.
References, experiences, and additional exams like GRE or GMAT
Again, this one is also not a mandatory requirement to study in the UK. Only a handful of universities and programs (like MBA) require students to sit the GRE or GMAT exam. Some top-notch and competitive universities also ask students to provide a reference from their past professors, supervisors, and employers.
If students have a long gap between their education levels, they need to justify that with necessary gap fulfilment letters or experience letters.
Universities fees payment documents and other proof of adequate financial support so that the respective authorities know you have financial support throughout your stay.
Visa for study in the UK
Students will require a general student visa- Tier 4- to study full time in the UK. To apply for a Tier 4 Visa, students will have to pay £348.
To apply for a student visa in UK, students need to meet the following criteria:
- You need an admission letter from the course provider/ course confirmation
- English proficiency test
- Necessary financial documents
- Necessary academic documents.
- Immigration health care service charge
- Police clearance documents
- Visa application
- Medical assessment reports
With respect to quality education, job and popularity, the most popular courses in the UK are:
- Computer Science
- Media and Communications
- Business and Management
- Arts and Design
- Medicinal Science
- Sports Science
- Tourism and Hospitality
Major intakes in the UK
The UK welcomes international students thrice a year. These intakes simply signify the beginning of a course. The three intakes in the UK are-
1. Winter intake or January to February intake
Winter intake is a major intake for UK universities. Nevertheless, some universities might not be providing all the programs during this intake.
2. Autumn Intake
Autumn intake, also called September/October intake, is one of the major intakes for UK universities. The general application for the programs of Autumn intake opens in February. The admission deadline is May.
However, this might differ depending on the programs and universities. Visiting the university website and looking at the details of the program will provide you with authentic information on this.
3. Summer intake
Some UK universities provide some of their courses in the Summer or May/June intake. Note that this is off-time and only a few selected programs are available for the summer intake.
Best cities to study in the UK
5. New Castle
Cost of living in UK
Generally, the cost of living adds up to about 1100 pounds per month. This cost of living incorporates the rent, utilities, food, travel card, and recreation cost.
The average cost of living in London is higher than in other UK cities. For instance, the average living expense in London is an average of £ 1,265 per month.
Likewise, if you choose to live an extravagant lifestyle in the UK, this average expense cannot cover you up.
Post-study work permit in UK
The UK government has announced a new Graduate Route Post-Study Work (PSW) visa from the 1st of July, 2021.
Note that, the students should apply for the Graduate Route visa before the expiration of the current student visa which will require a new visa application charge of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) at the full charge of £624 per year.
According to this new Graduate Route,
- Bachelors and masters graduate can stay and work for 2 years after completion of their degree
- PhD graduates can stay and work in the UK for 3 years after completion of their degree.
During this time, you can do any kind of work with no minimum salary bar. Your nationality or field of study won’t matter for the graduate route visa.
After the end of this 2 year period, students should either leave the UK or apply for a general work visa-Tier 2 visa. To apply for the Tier 2 visa, you should show an employment offer and exceed the minimum salary bar.
Scholarships to study in UK
UK government scholarships
Chevening scholarships are provided to brilliant students and it covers tuition fees, living expenses, economy class airfare to the UK and some extra stipend to cover up for essential expenses. Chevening scholarships are generally for a year-long Master’s degree.
Scotland Saltire Scholarships
This scholarship is for full-time masters applicants from Canada, China, India, the USA, Japan, and Pakistan. It covers a number of faculties like science, healthcare, energy and technology. However, the courses are delivered in Scottish universities.
The Commonwealth Scholarships
It was founded by the UK Department For International Development (DFID) to help deserving masters applicants from developing commonwealth countries. It covers arrival allowance, tuition fees, maintenance fees, thesis grant and other necessary expenditures.
UK university scholarships
Bristol University Think Big Scholarships
There are scholarships for both undergraduate and postgraduate levels for deserving students at Bristol University. The scholarship amount is from £5,000 to £20,000.
Gates Cambridge Scholarships (UK)
This scholarship covers tuition fees while also providing additional and discretionary funding to brilliant international applicants. It is for any postgraduate degree at Cambridge University.
Clarendon Scholarships at University of Oxford (UK)
Provides 140 scholarships every year to deserving national and international graduate students. The deciding factor is academic excellence, leadership attributes and all-round potential. Clarendon Scholarships covers tuition fees and also helps students with living expenses.
Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships
The global research scholarships at the University of Edinburgh covers the additional or extra charge that international students have to pay in comparison to UK/EU graduates. The global research scholarship award does not cover the living expenses.
Warwick Chancellor’s International Scholarships
This scholarship is awarded to 42 excellent PhD applicants of Warwick Graduate School. This scholarship covers tuition fees and also provides a maintenance stipend.
University of West England Chancellor’s Scholarships
This scholarship covers the full tuition fees of outstanding students for an academic year. As a part of this scholarship, students will have to intern within the International Development Office and other departments.
University of West London International Ambassador Scholarships
Scholarships worth £5000 for deserving 50 students pursuing a full-time undergraduate or postgraduate degree at the University of West London.
Developing Solutions Scholarships at University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham offers 105 scholarships for international students of developing countries like India and African countries at the masters level. 35 of the 105 scholarships cover full tuition fees of the deserving students and 75 covers half of the tuition fees.