Choosing a course and university or college
Choosing a university course in the UK
In the UK, degree courses tend to be very specialised, allowing students to focus on their chosen subject from their first day. However, there are others that allow you more flexibility in what you study – so when you start searching for courses make sure you read the course descriptions carefully, and click through to university websites for further information.
How to choose between similar courses
There’s an enormous range of subjects and courses in the UK, so there will be something to suit your career goals and interests.
- Search for courses and see what you like best.
- Each university and college has different specialities, so see which is most suitable for you.
- Check that employers or professional organisations in your country will accept the qualification you choose.
- Make sure the course covers the subject you want to study to help you in your chosen career.
How to choose between different universities and colleges
There are hundreds of universities and colleges in the UK with different specialities. So rather than choosing a famous university, see where has the best courses for you.
- Ask how many other international students or students from your country are studying there.
- Find out if the university has cultural or social clubs you would like to join.
- Remember to check entry requirements in the course descriptions to see what you need to do to get a place on a course.
- Refer to high quality education assured by QAA below
Come to an international UCAS event to find out more
We attend higher education events around the world too.
You can apply independently or through an adviser
Alternatively, you could choose to seek help from a local adviser – a member of staff at a school, college, university, advisory service or agency that provides information about studying in the UK.
- They can sometimes help you with your UCAS application or visa application.
- It’s your choice whether you use an adviser or not – they can offer valuable support, but if you don’t use an adviser you’ll not be disadvantaged in any way.
- If the adviser is registered as a UCAS centre they will have access to the best advice and can oversee your application through UCAS’ online system. These centres are widely considered as a trusted source of applications by universities and colleges.
- Please note some advisers may charge for their services if they are agents.
Missed the international deadline?
While the 15 October deadline is usually inflexible, don’t worry if you miss the January deadline – many universities and colleges will continue to accept applications from international students until later in the year, nearer the beginning of the course.
Don’t leave it too late though, because if you do get a place, you’ll still need to arrange a visa and your accommodation.
How to use international qualifications to study in the UK
The qualifications required are often stated in UK terms, such as A levels.Don’t worry though – you can also use equivalent international qualifications that you’ve completed already or you’re working towards now.
- This is different to how some countries manage applications for higher education. In the UK your school or college can provide predicted grades for qualifications you’re studying now that lead to higher education. That way you can apply earlier in the year to increase your chances of getting a place.
- When you search for courses, don’t worry if the entry requirements don’t specify your qualifications – many course providers accept alternative equivalent qualifications. Check on the course provider’s website or contact them to find out.
You can get a statement about how your qualifications compare to UK equivalents from UK Naric (the UK’s National Recognition Information Centre), or contact the UCAS Qualifications Hotline on +044 371 468 0472 (or 0371 468 0472 if you’re calling from inside the UK) or email@example.com.
Taking an English language test
If you’re taking or have taken an English language test, you might be able to add the details here, so that conservatoires can verify the results:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) registration number
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Test Report Form number
You’ll be able to enter your passport number as well, which will help you if you need to arrange a student visa. Don’t worry if you don’t have a passport yet – you can add your passport number after you’ve submitted your application.
Applying in other languages
It’s not possible to apply in an alternative language, but you can use some European characters in your personal details, personal statement, employment and referee details. Download the document below to see which characters: some of which will be substituted for similar UK characters.
How to add your previous qualifications
- Make sure you add as much detail as possible – including grades and results. Without enough information universities might struggle to make a decision.
- Qualifications are listed by name and country, but don’t worry if yours isn’t there – just add it into the ‘other’ box.
How to write a personal statement
As an international student there are a few extra things you should mention.
- Why you want to study in the UK
- Your English language skills and any English courses or tests you’ve taken
- Why you want to be an international student rather than study in your own country
How to prove your results for previous qualifications
You may have to send proof of your results in certificates or transcripts.
At UCAS, we’re able to send some of your results – including the International Baccalaureate – but for most international qualifications you’ll have to send them to the university or college yourself.
Different universities and colleges have different policies for how they want to receive results. Some might ask for them as soon as you apply – others might do their initial assessment of your application before asking to see proof of your results.
You’ll need to prove your English language skills, and you might need a visa
You’ll also need to demonstrate your English language skills, so check with universities and colleges how they want you to do this.
- You might need to take a specific English language test to get a place on a course.
- If you need a student visa – anyone living outside the UK and not an EEA or Swiss national – you might need to take an English language test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). If so, and if you get a place on a course, your university or college will let you know what to do, and will help with your visa application. If the visa you’re applying for asks you to prove your English language ability, since 6 April 2015, the secure English language test (SELT) required must be taken in one of the SELT centres approved by the UK Home Office. View the approved secure English language tests and test centres that meet the Home Office’s requirements.
You may need to arrange a visa
If you live outside the UK you’ll need to arrange a Tier 4 student visa – unless you’re an EEA or Swiss national.
- If so, you’ll need to prove your English language skills, and make an application through UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
- Your university or college will help you to apply, and you can enter your passport details here on ucas.com when you fill in your application or after you have submitted it.
You’ll have to pay tuition fees to study in the UK
Fees can vary depending where you study and whether you’re from the EU or outside the EU.
You might be able to get financial help for tuition fees
EU students may be able to apply below for a student loan. Alternatively any student may be able to find a scholarship.
You might be able to get a scholarship
You may be eligible for certain awards within Scholarship Search, and EU students could try the National Scholarship Programme too.
You might be able to get financial support for teaching
EU students may be eligible for a teaching bursary – find out more from Student Finance England.
Help and support
Information for parents of international students
Throughout the website you will see notes like this one pointing out parts of the application process which are different for international applicants.
- Most of the process is the same, but there are extra considerations like matching international qualifications to the UK equivalents, and arranging visas.
- Look out for these notes, and click below to get an introduction to the process, and a list of all the tips posted throughout the website.
You’ll get plenty of support during your course
There is a lot of a support for international students in the UK.
Many course providers have international offices and student societies, activities and academic guidance, plus counsellors and advisers to help you feel welcome and supported throughout your time in UK higher education.