How to study in UK for international students

Studying in Britain attracts many students around the world, especially that its universities are among the most prestigious educational institutions. These universities will enable you to easily access the job market, not only in Britain but also in all countries around the world that accept and respect the British academic curriculum. You are no doubt one of the many students who wish to study in the UK. Aren’t you?

To help you achieve your goal, we have collected in this complete guide all the information and guidance you need to start a successful study in the UK. Keep reading to learn all what you need.

Important note: This guide may seem very long, but I strongly advise you to read it fully as you will find answers to most of your questions about completing studies in UK.

About the United Kingdom

Britain is categorized as the largest island in the European continent, consisting of four countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), along with several smaller islands.

Moreover, Britain is one of the world’s most influential countries, mainly due to its significant contributions to the global economy. As well as being a wonderful land rich in history and events, where the customs and traditions of British society is one of the most interesting cultures for foreign visitors.

Besides, its cultural exports (especially after World War II) have become accredited worldwide, including literature, theater, film, and television.

Above all, we should not forget the UK’s largest and most important export, the English language which has become one of the leading means of cultural and economic exchange around the world. Having that, this has positively impacted its educational system and has made its universities an international example and reference in quality, leadership as well as excellence.

Study system in UK

Furthermore, Britain is the second most popular education destination after the United States. Despite the relatively high cost of studying and living in Britain compared to other leading countries, surely graduates of the British education system benefit from international recognition. Henceforth, it guarantees them a great career around the world.

The system of study in Britain after secondary education can be divided into two main categories:

Further Education

The goal of going for further education is to have greater access to universities and colleges. The best way to do this is to obtain certifications such as A-Levels, GNVQ, BTEC or other such qualifications.

This stage is considered a professional qualification certificate that determines the student’s competence according to the specialties available at the British universities to which the student intends to join.

At last, as an international student, you can obtain these qualifications online through many teaching websites, such as the cloudlearn website.

Higher Education

After the completion of further education, most students, both local and international, are directly enrolled in the higher education system in Britain. Obviously, students can choose between universities or colleges to complete their studies. Being that, all tuition and fees have to be paid, depending on the specialty and institution chosen.

(Don’t worry, we’ll discuss at the bottom of the article the cost of studying. Just follow this step-by-step guide.)

Read our guide on PhD study in the UK.

Study in the UK: Requirements

As noted above, admission requirements for UK universities vary depending on the specialty, academic degree as well as the institution chosen. However, common requirements for most UK universities and colleges can be listed below:

English Language

For most schools and courses, a student’s level of proficiency (especially international) in English is the key entry criteria in the available courses. To ensure this, students have to take one of the most commonly accepted English language tests, such as TOEFL or IELTS.

How to pass the IELTS test

Generally, you have to get a score of 6.5 in order to pass the IELTS test. with at least 6.0 per course to be accepted in most UK universities. As shown above, the best way to pass your test is to work hard to improve your English, including pronunciation, listening as well as writing.

Along with the above, you should pre-practice writing articles in a correct and clean language. The easiest way to develop this skill is to read academic English articles consistently. Try to benefit from that by taking as many information and terms as possible, thus gaining the ability to write about any topic.

Learn 5 important tips to pass the IELTS test successfully.

Study the English language in the UK

It should be noted that sometimes, success in one of these tests might be insufficient, especially with complex disciplines that require special academic or technical language. In this case, you may have to learn English in the UK independently, in order to keep up with the academic indoctrination.

International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate is one of the most important requirements for admission to British universities. While some colleges in UK are keen to know only the degree obtained in scientific subjects (mathematics, physics, science), others pay much consideration to the overall degree of the baccalaureate.

In adition, prestigious universities often require passing the International Baccalaureate at an average of 80%, which corresponds to the AAB score of the British standard.

Oral and written tests

After the initial acceptance by the university, often the next stage is to conduct an oral interview with the student, for two purposes:

  • Know your real goals in studying that specialization.
  • Explore your personality and verify consistency with the information provided in the application’s cover letter.

Given these points, passing the oral exam is important in the student’s enrollment in the study in UK, since its universities devote great attention to the importance of leading character of their students and their ability to make decisions.

After the oral interview, students should take a written test, which is often on the campus or the chosen college. In this phase, students may take tests in subjects related to arts and history. Although they are applying for physics courses, and sometimes they are tested in the subjects they apply for.

Indeed, there is no general rule on written admission tests at British universities.

Accordingly, you should take the time to choose the institution and know all the relevant information, including the type of written and oral tests they propose.

Study in the UK: Top 10 universities

The Association “Complete University Guide” has the most internationally accredited rankings of UK universities and their development indicators. The Association measures the main periodic schedule of institutions by various criteria, including student satisfaction, graduate prospects, student ratios as well as employee competencies.

According to the 2020 categorizations, we have listed the top 10 universities in the UK:

  1. Oxford University
  2. University of Cambridge
  3. St Andrews University
  4. London School of Economics and Political Science
  5. Imperial College London
  6. Durham University
  7. Lancaster University
  8. Loughborough University
  9. University of Bath
  10. University College London

What are the cheapest universities in UK

Here are some of the cheapest UK universities for international students, with annual study tuition fees for 2019/2020 (tuition fees increase in higher education stage)

  1. University of Chester: Average fee: £9,250
  2. International Foundation Program: Average fee: £9,250
  3. University of Cumbria: £10,500
  4. University of Bedfordshire: £11,500
  5. Wrexham Glyndwr University: £11,500
  6. Leeds Becket University: £12,000
  7. University of West London: £12,000
  8. Southampton Solent University: £12,500
  9. Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh: £13,000
  10. University of Stirling: £13,650

Universities in the UK with the highest acceptance rates

According to new data from the UCAS website, the followingBritish universities provide seats for more than 85% of applicants.

You will find the acceptance percentage below each university:

  1. Aberystwyth University: 94.4%
  2. University College Birmingham: 93.6%
  3. University of Roehampton: 91.5%
  4. Newman University, Birmingham: 90.8%
  5. Bishop Grosseteste University: 90.6%
  6. University of Portsmouth: 90.4%
  7. York St John University: 88.3%
  8. Cardiff Metropolitan University: 87.9%
  9. University of Exeter: 87.6%
  10. Royal Holloway, University of London: 87.1%

Masters in UK – Study options

Do you want to study Masters in UK?

There are a large number of options available at universities in UK. As shown above, we have already touched upon some of them. Therefore, we suggest you look at the specialization you want to study in detail.

If you are interested in the field of informatics and computer sciences, you can review the following topic

Studying Computer Sciences and Information Technology in Britain

Do you wish to become an engineer? Learn about the branchesof engineering in Britain through this article:

Study Engineering in Britain

If you plan to study economics and business management, we suggest you read:

Master of Economics and Business Management in UK

If you are looking for the best universities in the field of human resources, and the requirements for admission, we have addressed this in the article below

Study Human Resources in Britain

On the other hand, if you dream of becoming a pharmacist in UK, or practicing a pharmacy profession, we invite you to learn about the best pharmacy universities below:

Pharmacy studies in UK

Moreover, if you want to become a dentist in the UK, we have prepared an ultimate guide you can check out

Study dentistry in the UK

And finally, we also have an ultimate guide about medicine studies in the UK. Not only, we break out for you the types of admission tests you need to pass to enter medical schools in the UK.

Discover at last the scholarships you can apply for to study medicine in the UK.

Distance learning masters in UK

You may be one of those who found a job after graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Congratulations on that!

On the other hand, you may also be a recent graduate and has not found a job yet. In either case, you may be interested in continuing your studies at prestigious international universities but without leaving your job or leaving your home country.

Henceforth, distance learning masters in UK is an important option for those who want to continue their studies in a country known for leadership, with saving on transportation, housing as well as living costs. Besides, invest in one of the programs available for the distance master’s degree study.

If you are wondering about the quality of distance learning, be ensured that it rely on advanced technologies such as video conferencing, educational television, as well as live broadcasts which enables you to achieve the optimal learning just like students physically attending in UK.

Identically, a wide range of institutions, prestigious or ordinary, offer special programs for distance learning master’s degrees through their website. Generally, the cost of study ranges from £1,300 to £18,000 per year, depending on the specialty and university chosen.

Among these universities you find:

  • University of Manchester
  • University of Nottingham Trent
  • London School of International Business
  • Faculty of Oriental and African Studies

For more details, we suggest you review a previous topic about distance learning in UK

Applying to a British university

All applications for UK universities are made through the UCAS website by filling out the application form and uploading the required documents for registration.

The website is responsible for sending the information tothe desired institution.

In return, UCAS charges £13 in case the student is applying for one university and only one course. Whereas, the charges are £24 if the application is for multiple universities or courses.

Finally, if you decide to enroll at a UK university, you must apply to UCAS at any time between 1st of September and 30th of June in the year preceding the school year in which you will begin your studies. This is to ensure that places are still available as well as to allow time for immigration, travel and accommodation arrangements.

For more information on how to apply, read the following article: How to Apply to a British University

Student visas in the UK

All international students aspiring to study in the UK must obtain a UK study visa, called a Tier 4 visa. It is worth noting that this type of visa is only available to full-time students seeking to obtain an academic degree in Britain. Contrarily, it is not granted when it comes to short-term courses or language courses.

Likewise, you can apply for a Tier 4 visa up to 3 months before the course starts. Once you have been accepted at a British university, you will then receive (or you can request) the admission confirmation number, called the CAS number. This is a proof of your qualification as an accepted student in the institution and thus qualify you for a study visa in Britain.

Obviously, it is necessary to use the CAS number to support the student visa application form. Hence, make sure you get it from the university institution before applying for a student visa in the UK.

As for the student visa requirements in the UK, it’s constantly changing. The value of fees, such as immigration services and health insurance fee, also changes.

Find out more about how to get a UK study visa.

Also learn about the common reasons your UK student visa is refused and how to reapply.

How much does it cost to go to UK to study?

It is known that tuition fees in UK are high compared to other developed countries. However, the cost of the study is not the same in all universities and specialties, where we find that:

  • Specialties such as humanities and social sciences are the least expensive:

Start from £9,250 per year.

  • Scientific specialties that require laboratory and clinical studies:

Starts from almost £10,000 and up to £38,000 per year.

  • Fees increase as the academic degree increases and with the popularity and leadership of the chosen university.

Although these costs may be high, most UK universities have shorter courses compared to countries like America, with an average bachelor’s degree of three years instead of four, and one year of a master’s degree instead of two.

Find out more about studying and living costs in UK.

Cost of master’s study in Britain

Tuition fees for master’s degree in the UK range from:

  • £5,880 per year when it comes to specializations such as English, journalism or humanities
  • Between £34,000 and £44,500 per year when it comes to medical degrees that require clinical studies.
  • Up to £55,000 when it comes to studying an MBA at a prestigious university.

Most masters courses at most UK universities charge between £12,000 and £19,000 per year.

Can I study in the UK for free?

There is no free of charge university study in Britain, but you can benefit from full-cost scholarships, or also called free scholarships, which often cover the expenses of accommodation and living, travel costs to and from your home country. Besides, the most important thing is the full tuition fees.

Here is a list of 5 free scholarships that can fulfill your dream of studying in Britain for free:

  1. British Chevening Scholarship: covers the cost of a master’s study for a year, including tuition fees, cost of living, round trip economy class ticket to the UK, as well as additional grants for basic expenses.
  2. Clarendon Scholarships at the University of Oxford: These scholarships cover full tuition fees for years of college, living and transportation expenses.
  3. Westminster Full International Scholarships: Granted to accepted applicants from developing countries to study at Westminster University. They cover all tuition and travel, accommodation as well as living expenses.
  4. Denys Holland Scholarship: It offers £9,000 per year, and students have the option to use all or part of the scholarship to cover outstanding fees.
  5. Rhodes Scholarship: Reserved for postgraduate studies in business management or financial economics. It covers all the costs that the student needs.

Also learn about other types of scholarships to study in Britain and how to apply for each one of them.

How to get student accommodation in the UK?

Generally, British universities often offer university accommodation for students in their first year of study. This period may extend to all years of study, or students may have to seek accommodation of their own after the first academic year.

It is important to communicate with the university you apply for, through its website, to get all the information on the conditions and fees to access the university’s accommodation.

The types of student accommodation available in the UK can be divided into 3 sections:

  • Regular university campus:

It is owned and operated by the University. The student benefits from having a private room. The fees start from £3,000 per year and will vary depending on your chosen university and geographical location.

  • Private university campus:

Students benefit from the same advantages as regular university campus, but they are more expensive because of the extra expenses and modern facilities. They reach up to £12,000 per year.

  • Private accommodation:

This is a popular choice for most international students after completing their first year of study. The price of rent is still associated with the city and how much expensive is living there. For example, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment in central London for £1,700 on average.

Likewise, the same apartment in the suburbs or in other smaller cities is on average monthly rent of £800. Of course the price increases with the increase in space and number of rooms.

Learn more about how to find student accommodation in Britain.

Learn also what are the best cities in the UK for international students.

How to find work to finance your studies in Britain

Many international students want to work during their studies in the UK, because of the advantages of a language practice, get some practical experience and thus add vital skills to the CV, such as teamwork. However, the financial aspect is the most important advantage for students to look for work besides their studies, allowing them to save on accommodation and living expenses.

If you are one of them, we know that most British universities have a special work center to help students find part-time jobs. It allows you to work up to twenty hours a week, during which regular hourly salaries vary from £10 to £12.

However, if there is no such center in your university, you can still work in different part-time jobs, such as working in cafés and restaurants, working in customer service, or working in sales…

Evidently, there are many student-specific job-search websites where students can find work that fit their abilities and interests. The most popular websites are e4s and student job.

Find out more ways to work while studying in UK.

Eventually, we hope that we have briefed you on most aspects of studying in the UK, and answered most of your questions. Feel free to comment below if you have a question or want to enrich the content with additional information.

About Alya


  1. مرکز پژوهش های شورای اسلامی شهر تبریز

    Woah this blog is wonderful i like reading your articles. Keep up the good work! You know, lots of persons are looking around for this info, you could help them greatly.

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