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How to Apply to a UK University as an International Student

How to Apply to a UK University as an International Student

Created At:09 April, 2021
Created By:Engy Hassan
Updated At:15 March, 2023

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We figured you might need help to decide whether to go “UK all the way” or check the other options in the USA or Australia. Here is an overview on how to apply to a UK university. From the admission process to the key requirements, you will be getting a handle on your entire situation and decide with ease. 

UK Study Terminology

1. UCAS 

An abbreviation for “University and Colleges Admissions Service”, UCAS, is the organisation operating the British universities’ application process.

2. UCAS Tariff Points

This is the points system that evaluates the UK universities applicants. The common grading system (in the UK), A, B, C..) is converted into points to make it easier for course providers to compare and determine the perfect fit for each student.

3. TB Test - TB Test Centre

TB is an abbreviation for Tuberculosis, a disease caused by a bacterial infection in the lungs. This test is mandatory for certain countries; check if yours is on the list

4. UKVI 

UKVI stands for “UK Visas and Immigration department”. This is the department that will process all things related to your student visa in the UK (if applicable). 

5. CAS Form

The Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) letter is the letter you will receive from your university once you have been accepted and is very important when applying for your visa as it contains all the relevant information about your university and course. 


IELTS stands for “International English Language Testing System”, and TOEFL stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language”. Both are certifications to validate  your proficiency level in the English language, and many universities ask for one or other of them or a UKVI test.  

7. IHS 

IHS Stands for Immigration Health Surcharge, which is a fee you will need to pay in order to receive free healthcare during your studies in the UK. The cost of this is £150 (US$210) and will give you access to a world class healthcare system. The fee should be paid online through the UK government official website.  Find out more in our “ Are You Eligible for Free Healthcare in the UK?” blog.  

Why are UK Universities the Best Universities?

1- High-Quality Education

From undergraduate to postgraduate, research and PhD, UK universities provide their students with world-class education at all levels. The UK is known for being home to some of the most prestigious educational institutions globally, such as the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and Imperial College London.      

2- Lifestyle 

You’ll enjoy not only high-quality education in the UK but also a lifestyle of welfare and prosperity. Public facilities like solid transportation links and efficient healthcare systems are easily accessible. The NHS declared the UK healthcare system as the most efficient healthcare system in the world, so you’ll be in good hands.  

3- Career and Personal Skills 

Studying in a UK university will open up so many doors, as it holds a prestigious status when appearing in a resume. Business owners and corporate CEOs find UK university graduates quite a catch, and they are always looked highly upon. 

4- Culture and Diversity 

More than 500,000 international students enrol in a UK university each year, making it easy to blend in and mingle with like-minded groups of people. A wide range of religions, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds are represented in the UK, making adapting to differences easy.     

How to Apply to a UK University as an International Student? 

1st Step: Prepare Your Required Documents  

Whether you plan on applying to a UK university or a university in another country, like the USA, you’ll need to prepare the following papers ahead of time and keep a digital copy of them to send and upload when required. 

  •  English Language Proficiency Certificate (IELTS Academic - TOEFL iBT - PTE Academic - Cambridge English exam). 
  • Recommendation Letter.
  •  Personal Statement. 
  •  Bank Statement - Financial proof you can fund your studies.
  • Original Birth Certificate.
  • Current Passport - Original and Copy. 
  • National Identification Card - Copy.
  • Academic Certificates. 
  • Academic Transcripts - Translated into English. 
  • Tuberculosis Screening Certificate - from UKVI approved TB Test Centre. (if applicable)

2nd Step: UCAS Application - How to Apply for the UCAS?  

You must keep in mind that most of the UK universities, if not all of them, will only accept your application through the UCAS system. Therefore, the steps will be as follows: 

1. Enter the UCAS official website and read about the exact deadline for applications and the paperwork required. 

2. Register for an account on the UCAS website. Further info will be required after registration, like special needs requirements, residential status, sponsorship options and criminal convictions. 

3. Fill out these details, then add your subject of interest (you can choose up to three subjects) and your placement year preferences (whether you want to be a practitioner of a trade or profession).  

4. Fill out your entire educational history with all the necessary documents from secondary education onwards. 

5. Add employment details if you have undertaken any full-time or part-time work and any other voluntary work too. 

6. Choose/apply for University Programmes: 

You can apply for up to 5 programs in the same university or different ones. You can take your time searching and exploring your options as you can add other programmes to your application later on if you feel a bit confused and overwhelmed. 

7. Write Your Personal Statement:

Personal statements are a vital part of your application and the most time-consuming aspect. Generally speaking, personal statements should showcase the skills you have and how they are compatible with the course requirements. Don’t feel the need to mention every single detail in your life; just mention what is appropriate and relevant to your application. For a more in-depth step by step guide on this, you can check our blog: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Personal Statement.  

8. Submit a Recommendation letter: 

Don’t forget to get a recommendation letter from a teacher, advisor, or any professional who knows you well academically. This step is a must for your application to be accepted, don’t underestimate it.

9. Pay the UCAS application fee online through the official website: 

You’ll need to enter your credit/debit card number. The price differs according to the choices you make regarding the programme you want to enrol in. The fee is £20 for a single choice and £26 for more than one and five choices so it’s worth it to apply for several courses or universities at once.

3rd Step: Interviewing and Additional Documentation

Many top universities ask for an interview as a final step of the application process. Due to COVID-19, most interviews are now virtual, of course; however, your preparation should not change. Here is a guide on  How to Prepare for Your University Admission Interview. Don’t panic and prepare well in advance. Learn how to cope with interview anxiety.      

4th Step: University Offer - Accept or Defer?

After passing the interview successfully, you are now waiting for an acceptance letter (offer), and you might get one of these two: 

1- Conditional Offer: This indicates you haven't met all the requirements yet, and additional documentation is needed before you are accepted. 

2- Unconditional Offer: This indicates you have met all the requirements and your place is now confirmed! All that’s left now is for you to simply accept or defer the offer. Congratulations, and don’t forget to read some tips to survive your first year at university


Congrats! You are now an official UK student, Hallelujah! 

Now it’s time for you to start planning your student accommodation in the UK, your flights and transportation, and maybe make a bucket list of all the places you want to visit when you move to the UK. Best of luck!

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