Study in the UK : Guide for International Students

Study in the UK: Guide for International Students

With each passing year, the number of students going to the United Kingdom is increasing. With world-class specialisation courses and a high-profile urban lifestyle, the UK is becoming a part of the preferable destinations for pursuing higher education. The universities in the country are among the best in the world and provide a plethora of options to study including full-time, evening- programs, part-time courses, e-learning, etc. This blog is a comprehensive guide for International Students who are looking to study in the UK.

Table of Contents

Why Choose the UK for Your Education?

The UK is among the top destinations to study. With high-class universities and institutions blended with traditions of excellence dating back hundreds of years, the United Kingdom offers much more than other English-speaking nations. 

Below are the main reasons why the UK is attracting students from all over the world:

  • Worldwide Recognition

It is well known that qualifications and degrees from universities in the UK are marked around the world as high in quality. Some older universities like Oxford and Cambridge have set a standard for excellence and the tradition is being followed by other universities and institutions throughout the country. This also becomes a great selling point when it comes to landing your dream job.

  • Lower Education Rates

The course tenure in the UK is generally a year less than in other countries. While four-year programmes are becoming more popular, these programmes in the UK are completed in under 3 years. Master programs are also typically between one to two years. Lower tenure means less money involved in tuition fees and other related costs.

Also Read : How to Send Money from India to Germany for International Students

  • Better Work Opportunities

Working along with studying can help a student cover living costs and an international student in the United Kingdom is generally allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during school term. But one thing to mention is that you should always cross-check with your university and visa terms if you’re allowed to work for this many hours or to work at all. Your work should not be in violation of your visa terms and conditions as it may cause a great hassle 

  • Loans and Scholarships

It is very difficult to finance international education. It includes thorough preparation and careful analysis of the budget. However, the UK offers multiple scholarships for students coming from different parts of the world. 

  • Multi-Cultural Nation

The UK is now home to people from all over the world who carry their faiths and culture with them. The country celebrates harmony and peace through varied traditions.


Culture and Lifestyle in the UK

The social structure of the United Kingdom is incredibly diverse. The country is home to a fusion of cultures. 

Diversity in People, Cuisines, and Traditions

The United Kingdom receives great diversity, bringing together people from numerous ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Traditions and festivals from different communities are celebrated widely, showcasing the UK’s commitment to inclusivity and multiculturalism. This diversity not only enriches daily life but also strengthens the social fabric of the nation.

Interaction with International Students

Since students from different countries enrol in universities and colleges in the UK, they offer a rich cultural exchange, broadening their perspectives and fostering global understanding. Such interactions build lasting international friendships while enhancing cross-cultural communication. This interaction creates a vibrant and inclusive community. It further allows a deeper appreciation of global issues and their probable solutions.

Also Read : Cost of Living in Italy

Education Systems in the UK

The education system in the UK is reputed worldwide for its exceptional quality and standards. Children in the country enter this education system at the tender age of three. 

Compulsory Study in the UK

It is divided into four key stages distinguished by a student’s age.

Key Stage 15 to 7 years old
Key Stage 27 to 11 years old
Key Stage 311 to 14 years old
Key Stage 414 to 16 years old

Students are assessed at the end of each stage. The fourth stage is the most common stage for students to undertake national assessment tests. These tests further lead them to take a GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) or other national qualifications.

Further, for international students, the British Education System has four levels- Primary, Secondary, Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE). More details are as follows:

Primary Education– For Children aged between 5 to 11
– Includes Key Stages 1 and 2
– At the end of each stage, students are assessed with national tests or assignments to measure their progress
Secondary Education– For children aged between 11 to 16
– Includes Key stages 3 and 4
– At the end of stage 4, students sit for GCSE or equivalent qualifications
Further Education (FE)– For students over the age of 16 years
– Students have the option to do a 2-year program in colleges or universities that lead to advanced-level examinations
– Another option for students is to opt for vocational qualifications
Higher Education (HE)– Students can pursue undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.
– Most of the international students enter at this level.

Intakes in UK

When you’re an international student. It is important to be updated about the intakes in the UK educational system. 

The United Kingdom’s academic year is divided into three main terms: Autumn, Spring and Summer out of which Autumn term receives the most intakes in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. 

A detailed comparison of these terms is as follows:

January Intake or Winter/Spring IntakeSeptember Intake or Fall/ Autumn IntakeMay intake or Summer Intake
Secondary IntakePrimary IntakeOffered by selected universities
Less number of programs offeredMain programs are offered by universitiesLeast choice of programs
Lesser applicationsMaximum number of applicationsVery few applications
The session begins on JanuaryThe session begins on SeptemberThe session begins on May
Admission forms are open from September to NovemberAdmission forms are open from December to JulyAdmission forms are open from October to November
Admission: June and SeptemberAdmission: February and MayAdmission: January and February
Limited scholarships and availableMaximum availability of scholarships and aidsLeast availability of scholarships and aids

Also Read : How to Pay University Fees in the UK from India

University Application Process in the UK

By carefully researching and preparing each step of the application process, prospective students can improve their chances of gaining admission to their desired university and course in the UK.

Here’s the list of common things to consider when applying in the UK:

  • Course Content and Structure: Ensure the course content aligns with your interests and career goals.
  • University Reputation: Consider the university’s ranking, reputation, and facilities.
  • Location: Think about the location, including the city, cost of living, and cultural environment.
  • Entry Requirements: Make sure you meet the entry requirements and have the necessary qualifications.
  • Costs and Funding: Assess tuition fees, living costs, and available scholarships or financial aid.
  • Support Services: Look for support services such as academic support, career services, and mental health resources.
  • Accommodation Options: Explore the types of accommodation available, both on-campus and off-campus.
  • Post-Study Opportunities: Consider the university’s career support and post-study work visa opportunities.

A brief overview of the steps in the application process is as follows:

Step 1: Research and Choose Courses– Explore various universities and courses to find the best fit for your academic interests and career goals.
– Check the entry requirements for each course, including academic qualifications, language proficiency, and any additional tests or interviews.
Step 2: Prepare Application Documents– Write a compelling personal statement explaining your interest in the course, relevant experiences, and future aspirations.
– Obtain references from teachers or professionals who can attest to your academic and personal qualities.
– Gather your academic records and ensure they meet the university’s requirements.
Step 3: Apply Through UCASComplete the application form, including personal details, educational background, and course choices (up to five) through the Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website.
Step 4: Submit Additional Tests or Portfolios (if required)– Some courses may require additional tests, such as the UCAT for medicine or the LNAT for law.
– Creative courses may require a portfolio of your work.
Step 5: InterviewsSome universities or courses may conduct interviews as part of the selection process, either in person or online.
Step 6: Receive OffersUniversities may make conditional offers (subject to achieving certain grades) or unconditional offers.
Step 7: Accept Offers and Apply for Accommodation:Confirm your firm and insurance choices on UCAS and apply for university accommodation if needed.
Step 8: Visa ApplicationApply for a student visa, ensuring you meet all requirements, including the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
Step 9: Prepare for ArrivalPlan your travel to the UK.

Health Insurance for International Students study in the UK

Health insurance is very crucial for international students study in the UK for multiple reasons:

  • Healthcare Access: Health insurance ensures that international students have access to necessary healthcare services under the National Health Service (NHS) without incurring prohibitive costs.
  • Financial Security: Medical treatments can be expensive, and health insurance provides financial protection against unexpected medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgeries, and emergency treatments.
  • Compliance with VISA requirements: For visa applications, students are required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of their visa process, which grants them access to the NHS.

Further, here’s a detailed cost and coverage of health insurance:

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) Cost: £470 per year for students.
Coverage: The IHS grants international students access to the NHS, covering most services, including consultations with a general practitioner (GP), hospital treatments, emergency services, and mental health services. Some services like dental care and optical care may require additional payment.
Private Health InsuranceCost: Varies based on the provider and level of coverage. Basic plans can start at £100 per year, while comprehensive plans can go up to £500 or more per year.
Coverage: Private health insurance can offer quicker access to specialists, private hospital rooms, and services not fully covered by the NHS, such as dental and optical care, physiotherapy, and alternative therapies. It can also provide coverage for repatriation costs and certain treatments outside the UK.
University Health PlansCost: Some universities offer their own health plans at subsidized rates or include health insurance in their tuition fees.
Coverage: These plans typically cover essential medical services and may include additional benefits tailored to students’ needs, such as mental health support and wellness programs.
Supplementary InsuranceCost: £50 – £200 per year, depending on the extent of coverage.
Coverage: Students can opt for supplementary insurance to cover gaps in NHS coverage, such as dental and optical care, or to have access to private healthcare facilities.

Understanding the costs and coverage options helps students make informed decisions about their health insurance needs while study in the UK.

Also Read : International Student Loans Without a Cosigner in the U.S

Cost of Studying and Living in the UK

The fees for UK courses depend on the study level, the course you are studying and the university or college you’re studying in.

Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Undergraduate Courses– Arts and Humanities: £10,000 – £18,000 per year
– Science and Engineering: £12,000 – £25,000 per year
– Medicine: £30,000 – £40,000+ per year
Postgraduate Courses– Arts and Humanities: £11,000 – £20,000 per year
– Science and Engineering: £13,000 – £30,000 per year
– MBA Programs: £15,000 – £45,000+ per year

Living In the UK

The location you’re living in determines your overall cost of living. From accommodation costs to entertainment, everything changes with location. Here’s a basic idea of costs you may need to incur while living in the UK.

Accommodation CostCampus Accommodation: University Halls of Residence: £400 – £1,200 per month (inclusive of utilities
Private Residences: 
Shared Apartment/House: £300 – £800 per month per person (excluding utilities)
Studio/One-Bedroom Apartment: £700 – £1,500 per month (excluding utilities)
Transportation– Monthly Travel Pass: £55 – £100 (varies by city)
– Single Bus/Tube Ride: £1.50 – £4
Food– Groceries: £150 – £300 per month
– Eating Out: £10 – £25 per meal
Entertainment– Cinema Ticket: £8 – £15
– Gym Membership: £20 – £50 per month
– Social Activities: £30 – £100+ per month
Miscellaneous – Mobile Phone Bill: £10 – £30 per month
– Books and Supplies: £50 – £100 per month
– Personal Care: £20 – £50 per month

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Financial Aids

There are multiple scholarships and financial aid available for international students in the UK. These aids are very competitive and often require a strong academic background and a clear plan for future career contributions.

Some notable options for financial aid include:

  1. Commonwealth Scholarships: These are offered to students from Commonwealth countries, covering tuition fees, airfare, and living expenses for postgraduate study and professional development.
  2. GREAT Scholarships: Funded by the UK government and British universities, these scholarships are available to students from a range of countries and cover a significant portion of tuition fees.
  3. Chevening Scholarships: Funded by the UK government, these scholarships are awarded to outstanding emerging leaders to pursue a one-year master’s degree in any subject at any UK university.
  4. University-Specific Scholarships: Many UK universities offer their own scholarships for international students. Examples include the Gates Cambridge Scholarships at the University of Cambridge, Clarendon Scholarships at the University of Oxford, and Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships at the University of Edinburgh.
  5. British Council Scholarships: These include a variety of funding options for students from specific countries, focusing on areas such as women in STEM.

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Career Opportunities After Studies

Completing your studies and qualifications in the UK is a great selling point when it comes to finding a job that matches your calibre and aspirations. It offers a wide array of career opportunities due to its strong economy, diverse industries and a global reputation for educational excellence.

Graduates can explore roles in finance, technology, healthcare, engineering, creative industries, etc.

The UK also offers post-study work visas that further allow international students to gain valuable work experience. 

Networking opportunities with leading companies and a vibrant job market further enhance career prospects, making the UK an attractive destination for building a successful professional path.


While studying in the UK has its own benefits, it also comes with great considerations and challenges. From universities, courses to managing accommodation and living costs, everything needs to be taken care of. With HiWiPay at your side, you can make seamless transactions related to your education.


Scholarships and Funding | Study UK Accessed 11th June 2024

GREAT Scholarships | Study UK Accessed 11th June 2024

Chevening Scholarships | Study UK Accessed 11th June 2024

Commonwealth Scholarships | Study UK Accessed 11th June 2024

Cost of Studying and Living in the UK Accessed 11th June 2024

Health and Welfare | Study UK Accessed 11th June 2024

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