STUDY UK: THE ESSENTIALS
British council

FAQ for students

1. How do I find and apply for a course to study at a UK university?

The course search function on the Study UK and UCAS websites make it very easy to search for courses at many levels by subject or place of study. If you want something even simpler, the Study UK study options - pages explain the different course levels available in the UK, such as postgraduate, undergraduate and pathway courses.

When you are ready to apply, check our Study UK how to apply page for a step-by-step guide and a video that explains the process. The basic rule is: apply for undergraduate courses through the UCAS website, apply for most postgraduate courses directly through the university (although some UK universities now use UCAS for postgraduate too, so it is best to check the university website first). UCAS is the UK’s official university admissions platform for undergraduate degrees. To simplify your application process, you do not need to fill out lots of different applications, just one form for up to six universities!

2. What does it cost to study at a UK university?

EU students pay international university fees, which vary depending on the university and the course of study. The exception is students from the Republic of Ireland, who can still study for the same fees as UK students and claim student loans due to the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement (see the site of Ireland's Citizens Information Bureau for more details).

To find out the exact costs of the course you are interested in, please check the website of the university – remember to look at the cost of your specific course at that university, as there can be big differences!

As well as paying the tuition fees, you will need to cover your living costs while in the UK. Be aware that some areas of the UK are more expensive than others! We recommend that you talk to the universities’ International Offices (you will be able to find their details on the ‘International’ or ‘Contact’ section of their website). The Student Budget Calculator is also a useful tool to get an estimate of what your monthly living costs will be while at university.

3. Where can I find scholarships and financial support for studying in the UK?

Our Study UK website includes a database of scholarships under Scholarships and funding and lots of details about how to find financial support while in the UK.

The good news is that many UK universities have scholarships, bursaries or financial support schemes that students from the EU or other countries can apply to. You can find out more from your chosen university or from specialist websites such as Postgraduate Studentships and Prospects. Our tip: Even if you don’t spot anything on the university’s website, don’t be afraid to contact them and explain your circumstances and see what they have to offer!

The UK government does offer scholarships, bursaries and financial support to students from a variety of countries, but these are in high demand and not available for all students. We recommend you to visit the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website to check if you are eligible for a UK government scholarship or financial support. 

Most international students do not have access to the UK’s government-funded student loan system. However, international students can access loans from private providers, please check what is available in your country.

4. Do I need a visa to study at a UK university?

You will need a Student visa if you are interested in studying a course which is longer than six months. For courses shorter than six months, EU, EEA or Swiss nationals do not need a visa. Students from the Republic of Ireland do not need a visa at all to study from the UK. For more details about visas and how to apply for one, visit our Study UK visa section

5. Is there a cost associated with the Student visa?

A UK Student visa costs £348 if you apply for it from outside the UK (it costs more if you’re applying from within the UK – for example, if you’re switching from another visa). You will also be asked to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge - this means that you’ll get full access to the UK’s National Health Service on the same basis as someone who lives full-time in the UK. This costs £470 per year and you need to pay it in full when you apply for your visa… however, you might be able to get it refunded! If you don’t do any paid work while you’re in the UK and you have a European Health Insurance card, you’ll be able to get a full or partial refund. For more information see the GOV.UK website.

6. How long will the visa process take?

The average time is three weeks – but it’s important to realise that it can sometimes take longer, so don’t leave it until the deadline! We recommend applying six weeks before you’re due to go to the UK.

7. What happens if my course lasts less than six months?

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national, as long as you don’t plan to work in the UK, you don’t need a visa to come for less than six months to visit or study. Any essential medical treatment will be covered by your European Health Insurance Card. There’s more information on the GOV.UK website.

8. Can I go to the UK on an exchange, or to study for one semester or one year as before?

Yes, it’s still possible to do this. Your university in your home country might have an exchange agreement already set up for you to do a semester or longer at a partner university in the UK. Alternatively, you might be able to set up your own study abroad semester or year placement at a UK university independently, meaning you would pay fees to the UK university directly. Check if your home university has a partnership agreement with a UK university. Remember, if you go to the UK for longer than six months, even on an exchange, you will need a visa.

9. Are students allowed to have a job whilst in the UK?

Many but not all students on a Student visa can work – it depends on what you’re studying and the type of visa you have. Students on a full-time undergraduate or postgraduate course are allowed to work:

  • up to 20 hours a week in term time (if you are studying for a qualification at degree level or above)
  • up to ten hours a week in term time if you are studying for a qualification below degree level
  • full time outside term-time (for all study levels).

However, remember that if you do work while you’re in the UK, you will not be eligible for a refund of your NHS healthcare surcharge (see Question 5). If your course is less than six months long and you want to work, you’ll also need to check what type of visa you should apply for. Find out more about working in the UK on a Student visa on the UKCISA website.

10. Is it possible to live and work in the UK after I finish studying at a UK university?

Yes. If you’ve completed a degree at a UK university, you can apply for a Graduate Route visa. This means that you can stay in the UK for up to two years if you finished a degree at undergraduate level or above (such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree) or up to three years if you completed a PhD. During that time, you can work or look for a job. If you do find a job during that period, you’ll be able to switch to a work visa. For more information on the Graduate Route visa, see here

11. Do EU citizens need a visa to visit the UK?

No visa is needed for any EU citizens coming to the UK to visit for up to six months. That means that your friends and family can come and visit you visa free (and do whatever sightseeing they want to do in the UK at the same time!). It also means that students can do a course that is less than six months long without needing a visa. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland do not need a visa to come to the UK for any length of time to visit, work or study.

12. Do these changes apply to UK nationals living in EU countries?

If you’re a UK national and you live in an EU country (for example, you have a UK passport), you can still claim ‘home fee status’ if you start your studies in the UK before 1 January 2028. This means that you’ll be charged the same fees as a student from the UK and be able to take UK student loans (check with the student loan company in the part of the UK where the course is located for exact fees and loans in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

13. Who should I contact in my country for UK visa enquiries and travel advice?

The first place to check for UK visa information is the GOV.UK website, as there is lots of information there about UK visas and a simple tool that lets you check what kind of visa you need. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, or you want to speak to someone in your country, please contact your local Visa Application Centre.

If you need to contact UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) about a current application, visit GOV.UK. For travel advice, check the website of your local British Embassy or High Commission.