How to Apply to UK Universities as an International Student

Starlyon King
Starlyon King  - Career Analyst
16 Min Read
How to Apply to UK Universities as an International Student
How to Apply to UK Universities as an International Student

From iconic landmarks like the Tower of London to top-notch universities, the UK provides eager international students with a great mix of learning, job opportunities, and adventure. Exploring the rich culture and beauty of this country is a big perk of studying here. If you are an international student and wondering how you can apply to a UK university, then this post is for you. Here, we will be showing you how to apply to UK universities as an international student, among other relevant information.

Studying in the UK as an International Student

The following are some reasons you should choose the UK as your preferred study destination as an international student:

  1. Diversity

Around 14% of the UK’s population was born in other countries. For international students coming to the UK, this means a chance to experience diverse cultures and build friendships with people worldwide. In cities like London, where a considerable percentage of residents are foreign-born, the cultural mix is even more pronounced. Additionally, staying connected to your own culture is feasible through community events and restaurants serving familiar cuisine, offering support for homesickness and culture shock.

  1. Support for International Students

UK international students receive support accessible online, through universities, or local government channels. Each university has a dedicated office addressing the needs of international students, offering assistance on tuition, housing, and academic support. Engaging with this office before applying is advantageous to you. The UK Council for International Student Affairs provides valuable information on mental health, housing, work, and immigration through its website, along with a hotline for any queries.

  1. Improve your English Skills

Studying in England, where English originated, is an ideal opportunity to practice the language. You’ll encounter various British accents, such as English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, each with unique regional variations. The diversity in the UK also exposes you to English accents from around the world, offering a real-world listening experience that might differ from what you’re accustomed to at home.

  1. Top Universities

UK universities boast global recognition, with eight ranking among the top 50 worldwide in the QS World University Rankings 2021. Notable institutions include the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and others. The UK is renowned for its universities’ research and development and excellence in medicine, arts, and humanities. With over 100 universities, you can find institutions excelling in various fields, as highlighted in the QS World University Rankings breakdown by subject.

How Much is UK Tuition Fees for International Students

Tuition fees in the UK vary based on your home country. For English universities, home students can be charged up to £9,250 per year for undergraduate degrees. In Wales, the maximum is £9,000, but Welsh students can apply for a non-repayable fee grant. Northern Irish universities charge up to £4,710 for home students and potentially £9,250 for students from other parts of the UK. Scotland doesn’t charge fees for home students at the undergraduate level, but students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland may pay up to £9,250. International students can expect to pay £10,000 to £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees, while a medical degree may cost up to £67,892 per year for overseas students.

Postgraduate degree charges for international students have no set upper limit and vary among universities, generally being higher than undergraduate courses. While home students can access government loans covering tuition and living costs, for international students, government loans aren’t available. Still, they can explore financial aid and scholarships from universities or external organizations.

How to Apply to UK Universities as an International Student
How to Apply to UK Universities as an International Student

Requirements to Study in the UK as an International Student

Getting admission into a university is not a walk in the park. Certain things must be in place, or else it may jeopardize your dream to study in the UK.

  1. Grade/Qualification

The most important requirement for studying in the UK is ensuring that your previous academic qualifications meet the criteria of your desired university. The qualification standards can vary based on the degree level and the university. Since UK universities are highly competitive, it’s generally expected to have a higher grade, such as 3.75 out of 4 or an overall percentage of 70% or above. Here are the basic academic qualifications and eligibility requirements for different levels of courses:

Bachelors in the UK: For humanities, a minimum of 65% in 12th grade is required, while for science and commerce, it’s around 70-80% or above.

Masters in the UK: You need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 60% and above.

PhD in UK: Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees should have a minimum of 60% and above.

  1. Entrance Tests

UK university entrance exams aim to select the most suitable candidates for specific courses. International students whose qualifications are not from the UK may need to take these exams based on their chosen course. These tests assess core concepts in the field of study or related subjects, determining if the student is a good fit for the UK education system. Here are some types of entrance exams based on courses:

GMAT: Required for MBA or business-related courses.

GRE: Necessary for master’s degree programs; some universities may have varying requirements.

LNAT: Evaluates reasoning, interpretation, analysis, and decision-making skills for undergraduate law courses.

BMAT: Needed for medicine, biomedical science, and dentistry-related programs.

UKCAT: Required for medical or dental degree programs.

Additionally, some universities have specific exams like the University of Cambridge’s Cambridge Law Test. You should endeavor to check with your university or college for specific requirements.

  1. English Language Proficiency

If your native language isn’t English, you’ll need to demonstrate strong English proficiency through a language test to study in the UK. Specifically, for the IELTS test, you must take the IELTS UKVI version. IELTS and IELTS UKVI have the same format, content, scoring, and difficulty; the only difference is that UKVI IELTS is approved by the UK home office for job, study, and migration purposes.

Language proficiency requirements may vary based on the university and course. However, here are the general IELTS score requirements for various levels of education in most UK colleges:

– Bachelor’s Degree: 6.0 – 6.5

– Master’s Degree: 7.0

– PhD: 6.5 – 7.0

  1. Documents

When applying to a UK university, you’ll encounter a substantial amount of paperwork, and the required documents can differ based on your chosen university and course. The essential documents for international students generally include the application form, ID proof, a valid passport, passport-size photos, proof of English language proficiency, entrance exam scores if applicable, birth certificate, academic transcripts, reference letters when necessary, a Statement of Purpose, a portfolio if relevant, CV/Resume, and proof of funds with associated bank statements.


How to Apply to UK Universities as an International Student

The following steps would assist you in applying for any UK university as an international student:

  1. Choose your University and Course

Choosing a university and course is an important yet challenging decision for your UK study experience. To ensure you find the ideal match and achieve your goals, extensively research the variety of courses, colleges, and universities available. Compare them and carefully review the entry requirements for each course using course search tools or the institutions’ websites. If you have any inquiries, don’t hesitate to reach out to the university directly; they are more than willing to assist you in obtaining the information necessary for your decision-making process.

  1. Register and Apply to the University

The registration and application process for undergraduate and postgraduate studies are quite different. Let’s discuss each of these applications below:

  • Undergraduate Application

The process of applying for an undergraduate degree in the UK is straightforward. Instead of contacting multiple universities individually, you can streamline the application by applying for up to five courses simultaneously through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). A small administration fee is involved, and UCAS takes care of all the necessary procedures. After you have filled out the application form, craft your personal statement. Note that a personal statement is a key opportunity to distinguish yourself. Explain your interest in the course, showcase relevant skills, and highlight life experiences and achievements. Additionally, include a written reference from someone like a tutor or school teacher who can affirm your suitability for the course. Ensure you reach out to your referees early, allowing them ample time to provide the reference.

Application Deadlines for Undergraduate Application

There are four application deadlines in the UK:

– October: For Oxford, Cambridge, and certain courses like medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry.

– 31 January: The ‘on-time’ deadline for most undergraduate courses.

– March: Applicable to some art and design courses.

– 30 June: The late deadline for most undergraduate courses. Applying after this may lead to your application going into “clearing,” jeopardizing your first-choice guarantee.

While applying is possible until 30 June, it’s advisable to do so early. This allows enough time for tasks like arranging visas, accommodations, and flights, ensuring a smoother process.

  • Postgraduate Application

To register and apply for postgraduate courses, you’ll need to provide your personal details and qualifications. Include a reference or contact information for a referee (like a lecturer or tutor) who can confirm your ability for the course. Craft a personal statement explaining your motivation for the course, along with the skills, life experiences, and achievements that make you a suitable candidate.

Entry requirements vary for different postgraduate courses, so check individual course websites for specific application instructions. While many postgraduate courses don’t have fixed deadlines, applying early increases your chances of acceptance, even though you can apply as soon as you decide to pursue a UK course. For postgraduate studies in the UK, most universities manage their own applications, allowing you to apply directly through their websites. If you wish to offer some music, dance, and drama courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, there is a dedicated application system called UCAS Conservatoires. If you’re interested in postgraduate teacher training courses, UCAS operates an application system for these called UCAS Teacher Training.

  1. Accept the Offer

After applying, your university or college will notify you, usually through email, about whether you’ve received an offer to study. If you applied through UCAS, you can easily track your application status anytime. If you receive an unconditional offer, congratulations! You have a secure place and can accept it right away. For conditional offers, your place is contingent on meeting additional requirements, such as achieving specific exam grades or English language test scores.

Some courses may require an interview, either over the phone or in person, before you receive an offer. Check the course information before applying to know if this is a requirement. Once you get a Confirmation for Acceptance of Studies (CAS) from your university, you can use it to apply for a student visa in the UK.

  1. Apply for Visa

If you’re 16 or older and plan to pursue a higher education course in the UK lasting more than six months, you’ll likely need to apply for a student visa under the Student Route. The application fee is £490 per applicant, and if you opt for a priority or super-priority service, additional charges will apply.

  1. Prepare to Stay in the UK

Once you’ve secured your offer and obtained your visa, it’s time to prepare for your journey to the UK. Begin by exploring flight options and booking your travel, considering arrival logistics. Ensure your accommodation details are in order, whether in university housing or private rentals. Pack essentials, including important documents, appropriate clothing, and academic materials. Manage your finances, notify your bank, and familiarize yourself with the local currency. Arrange health insurance coverage and become acquainted with the local healthcare system. Also, check if your university offers an orientation program for international students. Additionally, read up on UK culture, customs, and specifics about your university’s location.


UK universities are globally renowned for their excellence. If you aspire to study in the UK, the initial step involves applying for a course. With numerous courses and top-ranking universities to choose from, the application process may seem daunting to many students. However, we hope this article has made the process easy for me.

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By Starlyon King Career Analyst
I'm Kingsley Neji, popularly known as Starlyon King, CEO of UnicrossBlog and SportPremi. Join me on a journey of knowledge and excellence in education, career and financial guide.
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