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Student visa requirements for the UK 2023 – Apply now!

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The UK is globally recognised for its teaching excellence. Let’s find out why.

The United Kingdom (UK) is reputed for its excellent quality of education, interactive teaching methodology, top ranking universities and great student satisfaction. Universities in the UK consistently rank in the world university rankings such as the QS World Rankings, Times Higher Education Ranking, and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Further, degrees earned from the country are globally recognised and preferred by employers all over the world.

Standing at the zenith of research and development, the UK offers students vast scope to build critical and analytical thinking. Here’s why an overview of the education system in the UK.

How does the UK education system work?

The responsibility of education in the UK is delegated to four jurisdictions – England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. All of these regions have different forms of education systems, qualifications and individual laws/regulations. The major differences can be found in general and secondary education resulting in each region having its own credit frameworks and qualifications.

Study levels

The education system in the UK consists of four stages:

  • Primary education
  • Secondary education
  • Further education
  • Higher education

Qualifications framework

A qualification framework is a principal national reference point that maintains academic standards in the higher education sect in any country. Two parallel frameworks run for higher education qualifications of UK degree-awarding bodies:

  • The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of Degree Awarding Bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ)
  • The Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland (FQHEIS)

 Around 160 universities and colleges are allowed to award degrees in the UK.

Quality Assurance System

The unique factor of education system in the UK is its Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). It is an independent body that assesses and compares universities and colleges in the country through regular audits and reviews. It also identifies the best education practices and provides feedback for areas of improvement. This ensures that the students have access to the best quality of education.

All review reports are public and can be accessed on the QAA website. However, do note that private institutions are not subjected to assessment by QAA.

Higher education

Higher education in the UK mostly comprises bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. As an international student, you may also transition to university level studies via pathway programs that generally include English language courses and foundation courses.

Undergraduate courses

Undergraduate courses are designed to help students get exposure to a whole new world after school whilst providing a thorough understanding of a subject of interest. The UK offers a variety of courses in humanities, social science, art, design, business, technology, science and more!

Here’s an overview of the types of undergraduate courses offered in the UK:

Program Duration
Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND) 1 to 2 years
Certificates or Diplomas of Higher Education (Cert HE/Dip HE) 1 to 2 years
Foundation degrees (Fd A/Fd Sc) 6 months to 2 years
Degrees (such as BA, B.Sc, BEng)

3 years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

4 years in Scotland

Sandwich degrees 4 years with a year in industry
Integrated courses (where masters is awarded as the first degree such as MEng) 4 years


Postgraduate studies

Postgraduate courses are more specific and involve in-depth study. Most master’s degrees have duration of one year, which means you can be back in the workforce faster than your counterparts pursuing masters in other countries. There is a plethora of courses to choose from including niche courses that are highly valued in the industry.

Here’s an overview of the types of postgraduate courses offered in the UK:

Program Duration
Postgraduate certificates and diploma (PG Cert/PG Dip) 9 to 12 months
Taught Masters (such as MA, M.Sc., LLM, MBA, MRes) 1 year
Research Masters (such as MPhil, PhD, DPhil) 2-3 years


Pathway programs

These are preparatory courses for seeking admission into universities through English Language learning programs or foundation-level courses. Pathway programs can help enter university-level studies in the country and help strengthen your language skills as well. These are offered by both universities and private institutions to help students who need extra assistance with English language to gain admission.


Fee structure

Your expenditure on tuition fee in the UK depends on two factors:

  • where you choose to study – different rules and laws apply in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland
  • you study level – bachelors, masters or doctorate


Tuition fee for undergraduate students range from £10,000 a year to about £18,000 a year, depending on the course and institution. Fee for postgraduate courses vary based on the program, course duration and the course provider.

Financial aid

Students who enrol for a course in the UK can get support in the form of scholarships, bursaries, grants, fellowships, and financial awards. These may be funded by the government, public/private organisations, or institutions. Since a lot of students apply to these scholarships, we recommended you apply in advance to beat competition and keep aware of the deadline to apply.

Pedagogy in British classrooms

The UK has a high reputation for its education, which is mostly the reason why so many Indian students come here to pursue higher studies. The best part about studying in the UK is the way education is imparted – it goes beyond textbook learning. You’ll be engaged in various activities such as workshops, seminars, tutorials and conferences at all times.

Teachers will expect you to be interactive in the classroom which will involve regular participation in group discussions, quizzes and debates. You’ll also be required to learn to work independently. If you see, education in the UK will eventually enhance your communication skills and help you build critical thought-process, creativity and analytical skills. This may be a little challenging initially, but you’ll get the hang of it with constant support from your teachers and classmates.

Academic year

The standard academic year in the UK begins around the month of September – October. The deadline for applications for courses commencing in September is generally in the preceding January of that year. Two other intakes available for programs in the UK are January and April, which are usually smaller than the September intake. Pathway programs may have additional dates to offer. Always check for the intakes available for your course of preference.

Popular programs

  • MBA
  • Physiotherapy
  • Law
  • Actuarial Science
  • Sports Management
  • Medicine & Surgery
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering

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Applying for a UK student visa? Here’s help!

The UK Government provides an opportunity for all Indian students to study in the country but as a prerequisite, you’ll have to obtain a student visa first. The visa you need will depend on your age and the type of study you wish to pursue in the UK.

You can apply for a student visa six months before the start of your course at the earliest and you’ll receive the decision on your application within three working weeks considering normal circumstances. 

We recommend you plan your arrival depending upon the duration of the course because if your course is for six months or less, then you can arrive in the UK up to 1 week before, but if your course is for more than six months, then you can arrive in the UK up to 1 month before.

To be eligible for a student visa, you must:

  • Have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed sponsor/ Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number and documents used to obtain CAS 
  • Valid English-language proficiency score
  • Financial proofs i.e., exhibiting enough money to support yourself and pay for your course


Here’s an overview of the types of study visas and their application requirements: 

Visa name

Who it’s for

When to apply

Arrival in the UK

Student Visa

Students aged 16 or over who have been offered a place in a course at a UK educational institution

Three months before the start of your course

Up to one week before if your course lasts six months or fewer. Up to one month before if your course lasts more than six months

*For detailed information, please visit the Gov.UK website


To be eligible for a student visa, you must:

  • Have confirmation acceptance of studies from a valid UK institution 
  • Acceptable English Language proficiency test scores such as IELTS 
  • Financial proof i.e., exhibiting enough money to support yourself and pay for your course. You would need approx. £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London and £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London (also known as maintenance funds)

Documents required for student visa

When applying for your visa, you will generally need:

  1. A current passport or other valid travel documentation
  2. Evidence of funds to provide your living expenses for the duration of your course
  3. Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number and documents used to obtain CAS 
  4. Passport-sized colour photographs
  5. Tuberculosis screening (mandatory for South Asian countries)
  6. Assessment documentation
  7. Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate (if required)


Additional documents may also be needed if you are: 

  1. Not a citizen of the country you are applying from
  2. Under 18 years of age
  3. Have family (dependents)

*Please note that these are the basic requirements, speak with your GSC counsellor for a detailed list of documents required for visa processing

If any of your supporting documents are not in English, you will need to have them translated. Each translated document must be dated and include the translator’s name and signature and confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document.

Applying for your visa online

You’ll have to apply for your student visa application online using the British Government’s official Gov.UK website. You can apply up to 6 months before your intended date of travel to the UK. Remember, your application date is the date when your application fee is paid.

If you’re an GSC student with an offer letter from any of our partner institutions in the UK, we can advise you on how to go about the entire process. We’ll make sure you are fully informed on the latest visa requirements and conditions; also help you prepare the right documents for your submission. 

Our team of experts will direct you to the official websites and to authorised immigration representatives to ensure you have the latest application forms and guidance.



Register with General Practitioner

Overstay your visa

Open a bank account

Be self-employed

Get a part-time job

Change your course

Sort out the transportation for college

Skip classes


Visa fee


Visa fee

Student visa

It costs £363 as the application fee for the visa from outside the UK. Also, you need to pay £490 to extend or switch student visas from inside the UK.

Please always check the official website for the latest fee, or check with your GSC counsellor

Mode of payment 

  • Online mode i.e., MasterCard or Visa card
  • Through demand draft to be submitted at the visa application centre or the selected branches of Standard Chartered Bank
  • Through cash payment at the visa application centre or the selected branches of Standard Chartered Bank


English language requirements

Generally, universities in the UK require a minimum band of 6 in IELTS, however, pathway and foundation courses also accept 5.5 overall. Some institutions in the UK also offer IELTS waivers considering students’ scores in English in the 12th standard.

Biometric residence permit

As part of your application, you must also obtain a biometric residence permit (BRP) from the UKVI. You will need to make an appointment with the UKVI for having your fingerprints scanned, and a digital photo taken of your face.

Tips for your UK visa 

  1. Try not to postpone your visa appointment until the last minute as it takes at least 3 working weeks to receive a student visa.
  2. Start your visa process six months in advance.
  3. You must have the certificate of acceptance for studies (CAS) from your university before the visa application process. 
  4. Check if the institute is licensed before applying for it.


If you need any more information regarding your UK student visa, our international education experts will be more than happy to guide you through the process. Register now for Free Assessment and Counselling. 

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