Source:Applying for a student visa
'Before you begin your UK education, you may need to apply for a visa. There are different types of visa, depending on your age, and on the length and level of the course that you want to study.'
You can find out if you need a visa on the UK Border Agency website. Applying can take some time, so if you do need a visa it is important to apply well in advance of when you intend to travel. You can find out about visa processing times in your country on UKBA's visa service pages.
What kind of visa do you need?
There are a number of different types of visa available.
- Tier 4 (Child) student: You can apply as a child student under Tier 4 of the points-based system if you are between 4 and 17 years old. If you are between 4 and 15 years old, you must be coming to the UK to be educated at an independent fee-paying school.
- Child visitor: You can apply as a child visitor if you are 17 years old or under and you want to come and study in the UK for up to 6 months. This includes activity-based programmes such as football summer school. You cannot switch and apply for a Tier 4 (Child) student visa while you are in the UK as a child visitor. If you want to apply for a Tier 4 (Child) student visa, you must apply from the country where you live.
- Tier 4 (General) student: You can apply as an adult student under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system if you are coming to the UK for your post-16 education. If you want to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you must apply from the country where you you live.
- Student visitor visa: If you are 18 or over, and you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months, and you do not want to work while you are here, then you will need a Student visitor visa. If you want to study purely English language courses, you can apply for a Student visitor visa that allows you to stay for up to 11 months. You can only apply for the extended student visitor visa from outside the UK. While in the UK on a Student visitor visa, you will not be allowed to switch and apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa.
- Prospective student: You can apply as a prospective student if you want to come to the UK to help you decide which course to study, or if you plan to start a course of study within 6 months. You will be able to switch and apply for a Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) student visa while you are in the UK.
Tier 4 student visas for adult and child students
For adult Tier 4 (General) and child students coming on Tier 4 (Child) student visas, the UK has a points-based visa system which is designed to be objective and transparent.
To apply, you need to gain 40 points:
- 30 points for a “confirmation of acceptance for studies” from the university, college or school where you want to study - your chosen place of study must be on the UKBA's official Register of Tier 4 Sponsors (approved education providers). This register is designed to give you peace of mind that you are applying to join a genuine institution.
- 10 points for showing that you can afford to cover all or part of your fees and living costs to study in the UK. This has been put in place to help you avoid any financial difficulties that might affect your ability to complete your studies.
From 6 April 2012, the Tier 4 system is changing. You can see a summary of the changes here .
UK schools, colleges and universities with Tier 4 students
In the last few years, the UK government has introduced tough new regulations for UK schools, colleges and universities who wish to teach international students. This has helped to improve the quality of UK education more than ever, and it shows!
About 265,000 final-year students at higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs) in the UK responded to the 2011 HEFCE National Student Survey:
- 83 per cent were satisfied overall with their course
- 84 per cent were satisfied with the quality of teaching on their courses.
This visa is for people who want to take a short course of study while they are visiting the UK – for example, a beginner’s English language course.
If you come to the UK on a student visitor visa, you are allowed stay for up to six months. That goes up to 11 months if you wish to attend exclusively English language courses.
It's important to note that, as a student visitor you will not be allowed to:
- extend your stay into full-time study or to do a new course while you are in the UK
- work (part-time or full-time)
- undertake work experience or a work placement.
As a student visitor you will need to show that you meet the main requirements of the general visitor rules. You must also be able to show that you have been accepted on a course of study at an educational establishment recognised by the UK Border Agency.
For further details, check UK Visas Student visitor information.