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Applying for courses

In coming to the UK to study, you will be joining around 400,000 other international students from 180 different countries who have decided to take advantage of the quality and variety of its further-education (FE) and higher-education (HE) programmes

The application systems for different courses and institutions in the UK differ. If you are planning to take GCSEs, A-levels or career-based qualifications at an FE college, you will need to apply directly to the colleges in which you are interested. This is also the route if you are considering studying GCSEs, A-levels or the International Baccalaureate at a UK boarding school or tutorial college or are applying for postgraduate study at a UK university or college (with some exceptions).

However, applications for first degree courses and for many Higher National Certificates or Diplomas (HNCs or HNDs) offered by HE and FE institutions are handled and processed by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). UCAS handles the applications for programmes of study at over 300 universities and colleges.

Before you apply

You need to think carefully before you commit yourself to studying in the UK. The main points you need to consider are:

  • What subject do I want to study and at what level?
  • What can the UK offer in this subject that I can’t get at home?
  • In which part of the UK do I want to study?
  • How much will my studies and living expenses cost me and how will I fund them?
  • How will my qualifications and experience help? There is no universally accepted list of comparisons between UK qualifications and those of other countries, although the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) provides advice on overseas qualifications accepted by UK institutions. However, each university or college will decide whether you meet the entrance requirements for its course.
  • Will my UK qualification be useful/valid in my home country?
  • Does UK immigration recognise my chosen institution? UK immigration permission is now granted only for study at institutions that are approved education providers listed in the Register of Sponsors, which is compiled by UK Visas and Immigration under the Points-Based System for visas and lists institutions licensed to sponsor migrant students under Tier 4.

Proving your language skills

If English is not your first language, most colleges and universities will want you to have a qualification in English to prove you will be able to cope with your course. Many different qualifications may be acceptable, but you will need to check with the institutions to which you are intending to apply to make sure that the qualification you hold is one of the ones they accept.

There are a huge number of English language courses offered by private language schools and FE and HE institutions in the UK, and many international students complete one of these before furthering their studies.

Further information

Applying to independent boarding schools and colleges

Applying to FE colleges

Applying for undergraduate study

Applying for postgraduate study

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