How to Apply to a UK University for International Students

The United Kingdom is one of the top study destinations and home to some of the world’s best universities. So if you have your heart set on heading there to get your degree, it’s no surprise why. But the big question is how do I apply to a UK university as an international student?

In the UK, the application process to university education is more standardized unlike in other countries like the United States. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the only gateway to getting into a UK-based tertiary institution.

Interestingly, with one application you can apply to as much as five different schools in the UK. All applications for full-time higher education courses, for undergraduate and postgraduate studies, are made using the UCAS online application system which is available 24 hours a day.

You can start your online application whenever it suits you and you don’t need to complete it at once. However, the process requires you know exactly which schools you wish to enter. As such, it’s important that before starting the process you research which universities in the UK offer your preferred course of study.


How to Apply to a UK University for Admission

We’ll take you through a comprehensive step of applying for admission into any UK tertiary institution.

1. Consultation

Firstly, you should get in contact with the UK university’s international admission office via email or phone. Although, almost all UK universities lists information for international students on their website. However, the essence is to get additional information needed specifically as a foreigner, such as standard exams, visas, interview procedures, financial aid, housing, international costs and specific resources to help you with the process.

2. Ensure you meet all Requirements

Before you apply to a UK university through UCAS for admission, you need to make sure that you meet all the necessary requirements. Also, you need to ensure you start your application early enough in other not to miss the deadline.

To apply to a UK university, you’ll need the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • International Passport
  • Reference letters, if required
  • Evidence of English competency (TOEFL, IELTS, C1 Advanced scores)
  • Copies of degree/diploma certificates
  • Academic transcripts
  • Proof of how you will be funding your studies
  • And possibly more

One of the major requirements needed to study in the UK is proof of English proficiency. As such you’ll need to take the IELTS test or its equivalent to prove you have sufficient English language skills to complete your course.

Additionally, if you wish to study in London will need to provide proof you have at least £1,020 per month for living expenses throughout the course of your studies as well as the means to pay for your tuition. Outside of London, this drops to £820 per month.

2. Find a Course and Select your Universities

Before starting your application, you need to choose your course of study before applying to university. Once you’ve identified your preferred course of study, you need to search for it on UCAS and take note of its unique code.

You can select up to five universities to apply to so have fun researching which institutions offer your course and exploring their websites. And don’t forget making a note of your universities’ UCAS codes.

3. Write your Personal Statement

One of the major requirements needed to study in the UK is a personal statement. You’ll need to write a convincing personal statement as to why you want to study in the UK. Your personal statement sets you apart from all other students and is likely to be key to your success when faced with competitors with similar grades and backgrounds.

You have a maximum of 47 lines or 4,000 characters (not words) to sell yourself and your love for your chosen subject. Detail what interests you, what you will bring to the university, why you chose the course and what you have done to show you are dedicated to your subject area.

4. Apply through UCAS

Now you’re ready to apply to a UK university. Visit the UCAS website to start your application. You’ll need to fill out your personal information, the UCAS codes you noted earlier for your course and universities and your personal statement.

Currently, UCAS charges £13 if you are applying to just one university for just one course or £24 if you are applying to multiple universities or courses. Pay the fee and then there is nothing to do but sit back and wait

If you are successful you will get your CAS form (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) which is a virtual document with a unique reference number sent to you by the university that accepted you.

Keep this in a safe place (do not lose it) as you will need it to apply for your student visa. Additionally, it will have all the important information you need to know, including details of your course, start date, tuition costs and your official confirmation of a place at university.

5. Apply for UK Student Visa

You will need a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa if you are studying for a full degree in the UK or a Student Visitor Visa if you are studying for a period of six months or less, which you can obtain through an online application. You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a Biometric Residence Permit) as part of your application.

Be careful with your timings for this one: the application needs to be in no less than three months before your course begins but no more than six months after you received your CAS form so keep your eye on your dates.

For a Tier 4 visa, you will need to pay a £310 fee and £83 for a six-month Student Visitor visa. You may be able to get your visa faster depending on what country you’re in so check with your visa application centre.

6. Visa interview

You’ll be invited to a visa interview at a visa application centre. Here you’ll be asked questions predominantly about your university, course and financial situation. Ensure you have all your documents at hand.

You are likely to need:

  • Tuberculosis Screening Certificate from UKVI approved TB Test Centre
  • CAS form
  • Current passport
  • English language proficiency test mentioned in CAS form
  • Financial proof you can fund your studies
  • Two passport photographs
  • Academic certificates mentioned in CAS form
  • Proof of payment for immigration health surcharge
  • Original birth certificate (and translation if not in English)
  • Proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you’re under 18
  • Proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian if you’re under 18

UK University Application Deadlines

Deadlines for application to UK universities vary considerably. Here are some of the most important deadlines to consider when applying for a university in the UK.

  • Mid-October – deadline for all medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine courses.
  • Mid-January – UCAS deadline for EU students. High ranking universities will not accept bachelor’s applications after the UCAS application deadlines
  • End of June – International students from a non-EU country
  • Many universities have different deadlines for international students (especially for graduate applicants). Check specific university deadlines on university websites
  • August – The UCAS Clearing process. Universities open up all their remaining places from late university applicants who still want to start their degree studies in the current academic year


Studying in the UK is expensive, however, it is the dream of many international students. To successfully apply to a UK university, you need to have all the necessary information that you can. Also, you need to start your application early enough or you’ll miss the application deadline.

Furthermore, with one application, you can apply to as many as five UK universities at once. This alongside your personal statement increases your chances of studying in the UK.


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