Pursuing higher education is one of the most significant phases of a student’s life. In the highly competitive world, higher education is at the forefront of comprehensive development. With the world coming closer, it is becoming easier for people to move abroad for job or study opportunities.

This has made international universities a hub for students with a global learning perspective. Apart from providing a broad academic experience, international education offers students exposure to multiple cultures, religions and languages and enriches their viewpoint about society.

While multiple international destinations offer students a chance to pursue higher education, one destination that is widely preferred by students is the UK. The UK has numerous higher educational institutes that offer different graduate and post-graduate courses to suit the needs and interests of international students. UK universities are known for their world-class amenities, safe environment, global exposure and top-notch education.

Whether you are planning to study in the UK or have already enrolled for the year 2021 you need to have a good knowledge about UK universities. This will not only help you in familiarizing yourself with the latest university guideline but will also assist you in planning your educational trip. To help you in this process, here is a comprehensive guide that will help you in preparing for UK University in 2021 as an international student.

  • Why study in the UK?

For decades, the UK has been home to thousands of international students that wish to pursue higher education from an international university. Some of the common advantages that make UK universities a top destination for international students include:

  1. Internationally recognised universities
  2. Exposure to multiple cultures
  3. Excellent work opportunities
  4. Financial benefits
  5. Unique British culture
  6. Affordable cost of living
  7. Highest student satisfaction rate
  • University Application

Students planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the UK are required to submit their application using the UCAS application website. As major universities in the UK accept applications only through the UCAS website, make sure to register yourself by creating an account and fill in your personal details.

The application gives you an option to apply for 5 different courses at the same or different universities. Whereas, students who are planning to enrol for a master’s program in the UK can directly apply to their preferred universities. Some of the important documents that you will need for your university application include:

  1. Statement of purpose
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Test reports of entrance and English language proficiency such as GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL or PTE
  4. Other State and National Level sports or extra-curricular certificates
  • Visa

International students from a majority of countries need a student visa to pursue their education in the UK. Depending on your home country you can apply for your UK student visa through the designated visa application centres. For example, students from Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East can apply for their visas through TLS contact. Whereas students from other countries can use the services offered by VFS Global.

To get familiarised with the UK visa requirements you can also seek help from your university. International students usually need a Tier 4 visa to be eligible to stay and study in the UK. If you have enrolled for a degree course, you can stay in the UK for up to 5 years. However, in the case of a below degree level course, your visa validity will be for 2 years.

If you wish to continue your studies, you can extend your visa while living in the UK. To apply for a student visa from outside the UK you will have to pay a visa fee of £348 and £475 to switch to a student visa or extend your student visa from inside the UK.

  • Documents required for applying for a UK student visa

At the time of applying for a UK student visa you will need to provide documents that include:

  1. Current passport
  2. Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your university
  3. Financial proof of money you will need to support yourself and pay your course fee
  4. Proof of parental or legal guardian consent for students under 18 years
  5. Proof of your relationship to your parent or your guardian for students under 18 years
  6. Tuberculosis test results
  7. Written consent for your visa application from your financial sponsor in case you have received a sponsorship for your course fees and living costs
  8. Evidence of proficiency in the English language. Some of the accepted English language proficiency tests include IELTS, IELTS indicator, TOEFL, Duolingo English Test and PTE Academic.
  • Post-COVID scenario for international students

Despite the COVID 19 pandemic disrupting the education system all over the world, UK universities are gradually gearing up for the safe return of international students. Known for their open and inclusive system and rich cultural history, universities in the UK are equally trusted by teachers, students and parents.

Keeping in mind the safety of international students, UK universities have adapted several norms to keep their faculty and students safe from coronavirus. These norms are specifically designed for local and national measures to ensure that the safety of students remains the top priority. Additionally, every UK university has dedicated support staff to help students at every stage of their education journey. Right from applying to the university to preparing for travel, these members support students throughout their time in the university.

  • Face coverings

Although face coverings are no longer compulsory for students, staff and visitors in teaching rooms or in common areas, to stay safe from coronavirus it is recommended to cover the face using a mask in crowded places. Whether you are in open areas or closed, covering your face while coming into contact with people you don’t meet often will help you in curbing the spread of the virus. London and Scotland also have made it mandatory for people to cover their faces on public transport. To stay updated with the latest rules in the UK, make sure to check all the government guidelines on coronavirus issued in your area of residence.

  • COVID-19 vaccination

To make sure the students stay safe from coronavirus, the higher education institutes in the UK are encouraging students to take both the vaccine doses as soon as they become eligible. Many universities have also partnered with vaccination centers and pharmacies to vaccinate their students at convenient locations or the university campus.

There are separate guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated international students arriving in the UK. You will be considered fully vaccinated if you have taken both doses of vaccination at least 14 days before your arrival in the UK. However, to be considered fully vaccinated, note that you should either be part of the UK approved vaccination program or have taken a course of Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccines from your country.

You will also have to carry proof of your vaccination from a recognised health body. While fully vaccinated students do not need to take a COVID-19 test before departing their home country, they will have to take a test on or before day 2 of their arrival in England. Additionally, fully vaccinated students are not required to quarantine upon arrival in the UK.

Students who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated will have to follow the non-vaccinated rules for travelling to the UK. In this case, you will have to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test in your home country before travelling to England. You will also have to book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 tests after arrival in England.

It is mandatory for international unvaccinated students to quarantine for 10 days after their arrival. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated international students can also complete taking their vaccine doses by registering with their university or by getting in touch with the NHS.

  • Health and well-being

The UK boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world. It is home to the world’s most advanced health care system, the NHS (National Health Service). With the help of the NHS, every UK university offers its students a safe and secure environment along with modern treatments and healthcare facilities. Understanding the growing needs of physical and mental well-being, the educational institutions in the UK also offer support to address any physical and mental issues arising during their academic tenure.

All international students can take advantage of the NHS by paying an additional Immigration Health Surcharge at the time of their student visa application. The Immigration Health Surcharge generally costs £470 per year for every student. It also gives students unlimited access to a wide range of NHS without any additional cost.

To sum up

Studying in the UK can be a great opportunity for international students to experience rich British culture while pursuing their education. University and visa approval are the significant initial steps in your journey to the UK. Once these are sorted take time to search for accommodation and regularly keep a check on the travel guidelines issued by the UK government to make a safe arrival in the country.

Author Bio

Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in freelancing, academic essay writing consulting, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.


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