Located in Western Europe comprising England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea. Hosting over 500,000 international students, the UK is the world’s second leading study destination (after the US). The UK Universities has strong global reputation and 4 out of 10 institutions are ranked within the global top 10.
The UK has a long and proud tradition of education, with some of its universities having roots in the 12th and 13th centuries.UK academic standards are among the best in the world. The UK offers a diverse and flexible range of courses in globally ranked institutions.
Courses in the UK education system are shorter and more intensive than many other countries, so you will graduate sooner without compromising quality. This will save you time and money in tuition fees and living costs.Universities are monitored closely to ensure that they uphold the highest standards of teaching, learning and research. They also work hard to ensure a safe, caring and supportive environment for all international students.
The quality of UK universities and colleges is assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Research standards are examined by the four UK higher education funding bodies, who publish their findings every five years. The UK has the second highest number of universities ranked in the top 100 by the 2013-2014 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings.
Links to Europe
The UK is an ideal base from which to explore the history and culture of Europe. Low-cost airlines operate from UK airports and international students from many countries may be able to apply for an EU Schengen visa to allow short trips across 24 countries in Europe on a UK visa.
With an outstanding international reputation, the UK education system offers an excellent standard, a wide range of English language, pathway, undergraduate (bachelor) and postgraduate courses and fantastic teaching facilities.
English language schools and pathway providers offer pre-university preparation either through English language courses or foundation-level courses. These can help you to achieve entry to university or to prepare for university-level studies in the UK. Additionally, English language schools offer stand-alone courses for students wishing to improve their English for personal, academic or business reasons.
Undergraduate (bachelor) degrees in the UK are essential for many top-level careers and are normally studied over three years in England and Wales and four years in Scotland. They are mainly taught degrees, with teaching varying in format but usually taking place in large group lectures and small group tutorials.
Postgraduate degrees in the UK can be academic or focused on a particular industry you are looking to enter. You will generally need to have achieved an undergraduate (bachelor) degree or equivalent to be accepted into a postgraduate course.
There are two types of postgraduate study:
– Postgraduate Taught (such as master’s by coursework) are usually one year in length.
– Postgraduate Research (such as PhDs) can be three or more years in length.
UK education: Value for money
Before you begin your course, think carefully about the costs and how you will finance your studies.
The cost of courses in the UK compares favorably with other major education destinations. The rate of international undergraduate student satisfaction with the cost of living in the UK is also higher than that of other top countries for studying abroad (UK HE International Unit, December 2015).
In higher education, UK courses are generally shorter than in other countries. Most full-time undergraduate courses take three years to complete, while full-time postgraduate courses take one year or more (for more information see Higher education courses and qualifications). This helps to keep tuition fees and living expenses down.
Further education courses vary in length. You may have the option of doing a foundation course and deciding later whether you want to carry on studying and ‘top up’ to a full degree. This means you can take a break from your studies to return home, or alternate between periods of work and study. Find out more in Further education and Shorter undergraduate courses.
This section will outline what you can expect to pay for higher education (undergraduate and postgraduate) and further education courses in the UK. For information about boarding school fees, please see: Boarding schools – Costs and scholarships.
Fees vary greatly for English language courses, so it’s best to contact the individual institutions. Click here to search for contact information.
Tuition fees for UK higher education and further education courses vary, depending on:
- Whether you are from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), or another country
- Where in the UK you are studying (there are different rules for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales)
- Your study level.
Undergraduate students from the EU/EEA pay ‘home fees’ – the same fees as UK students pay. These are the maximum tuition fees (many institutions charge less):
- In England and Wales, up to £9,000 per year
- In Northern Ireland, up to £3,575 per year
- In Scotland, tuition is free.
If you’re from another country outside the EU/EEA, tuition fees range from £3,500 a year to about £18,000 per year, depending on the course and the institution.
For all postgraduate students, tuition fees vary by course provider.
You may also be eligible for home fees if you fall into one of a number of categories, including if you have refugee status, or if your college or university is able to make you a special case. Click here for more information.
Please contact your chosen institution to ask about provisions for exceptional circumstances. Use the search tool to find your institution’s contact details.
Please also visit the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website for more information.
Visas: Fees and financial conditions
If you need a visa to study in the UK, you’ll need to factor in this cost too. Check the Gov.uk website to find out if you need a visa.
The cost of your visa will depend on your nationality, the type of visa you’re getting and the course you’re studying. Please see Student visas for more information.
To apply for a visa, you may need to provide proof that you can afford to cover your course fees and living costs while you’re in the UK. This is called ‘maintenance funds (requirements)’ by the UK government. This can be:
- Personal bank or building society statements
- A building society passbook
- A letter from your bank, or a regulated financial institution, confirming your funds
- A letter from a regulated financial institution confirming that you have a loan that is provided by the national government, the state or regional government or a government-sponsored student loan company, or that is part of an academic or educational loans scheme.
Any loan from another source, such as a personal bank loan, would need to be shown as funds held in your name (or a parent’s name) using one of the other forms of evidence listed above. Some other forms of identification might be possible – please see this page on the UKCISA website for more details.
If you are applying for a visa to come to the UK for more than six months on or after 6 April 2015, you will need to pay an additional NHS health surcharge of £150 per year. This includes students applying from within the UK or from outside the UK.
You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:
- have been offered a place on a course
- can speak, read, write and understand English
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
- are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
- meet the other eligibility requirements
There has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum.
When to apply
The earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months before you start your course.
You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You can check visa processing times for your country.
It costs £328 to apply for this visa from outside the UK.
You must pay £328 per person for any dependents.
You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
How long you can stay
You can arrive in the UK before your course starts:
- up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
- up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months
How long you can stay depends on the kind of course you’re doing and what study you’ve already completed.
What you can and can’t do
- work as a student union sabbatical officer
- apply from inside or outside the UK
- apply to extend your stay
- work in most jobs – depending on what level your course is and what kind of sponsor you have
- get public funds
- work in certain jobs, eg professional sportsperson or sports coach
- study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)
You may be able to bring in family members (dependents).
By studying in the UK, you will have opportunities to develop important workplace skills and your ability to think independently, which will significantly increase your chances of employment.
English is the international language of business, science and technology. By studying and living in the UK, the home of English, you will be immersed in the language and have the opportunity to improve your communication skills (of course, this takes practice and hard work!). Many professional bodies and employers may require evidence of your English language skills.
During your studies
You can work part-time, volunteer or complete a work placement or sandwich course during your time in the UK, all of which are valuable work-based experiences that can provide an edge and build your resume.
Most universities and educational institutions in the UK have a dedicated careers center that can advise students on all aspects of gaining employment during and after their studies.