Below is a selection of questions and answers often asked by students that are interested in studying in the UK.
The following sections have been updated in November 2020 to reflect recent changes in immigration law, concerning the streamlining of the student visa application process and additional working rights offered to international students following graduation.
– Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
– Tier 4 Visa Pilot (replaced for the new Student Route and Graduate Route)
– Can I work in the UK after graduation?
I would like to apply for a place, what do I do next?
If you would like to apply for a study place or would like some help to identify an appropriate course for your circumstances please contact us.
We would like to emphasise:
- There is no application deadline for foundation, pre-masters, graduate diploma and postgraduate courses. You can apply for a study place as long as there are places available although students need to allow sufficient time for their applications and study visas to be processed.
- The exception to this are undergraduate Bachelors courses as the application process for undergraduate study is a little different from postgraduate study. Students applying for undergraduate courses often have to apply through a central UK admissions process called UCAS. UCAS operates a strict application deadline which usually closes a couple of months before the start of the course. Please contact us should you wish to apply for an undergraduate course as Inova Education is an official UCAS Centre.
- You can apply for a study place at a UK university even if you are still awaiting your final examination results or still have to take an English language exam as universities can make conditional offers. A conditional offer allows you to secure a study place whilst allowing you time to work towards meeting certain conditions attached to the offer, such as taking an official English language exam or achieving a certain CGPA in your final exams. It is quite common for international students to secure conditional offers based on them achieving a certain score in one of the recognised English language exams before they can start their studies.
- You can apply for a study place well in advance of the actual start date of the course. For example, if you want to start your studies in the next academic year (e.g. January 2021 or September 2021) you can submit your application now, about a year in advance.
Due to the high number of applications UK educational institutions receive from international students we advise you to submit your application as early as possible.
What is the advantage of enrolling for my study programme through Inova Education?
You can apply and enrol on a course independently from anyone but you may find that applying for study overseas is not always as straightforward as it sounds.
If you apply through Inova Education you will receive useful help, guidance and advice in finding the course that best suits your personal needs and requirement from an impartial point of view. There are many study options available in the UK and we help you identify the most appropriate course for you after which we will guide you through the entire process, from the initial application all the way through helping you make your visa and travel arrangements. Inova Education has more than 23 years of experience in helping international students successfully enrol on UK university courses and we will ensure you are in full control of all the steps involved in the process. Our staff will offer you a highly personalised service and we will assign you a dedicated contact to guide you through the process.
Enrolling through Inova Education means that you are entitled to a whole range of personalised services, entirely free of charge, prior to and after arrival in the UK. Help is provided from our LATAM team in Mexico and our UK team. We have a very international team, many of whom have been international students themselves who have lived, studied and worked in the UK and other European countries and therefore they know through personal experience what is involved in coming to study overseas. Please note that all the institutions we represent have formally appointed Inova Education as their representative.
How do I find out more about your study programmes?
If you have specific queries about any of the universities we represent, their courses, or the services we offer, please get in touch or arrange an online or in-person meeting with one of our staff in our office in Mexico City (by appointment only.) Our full contact details can be found here.
If you live elsewhere in Latin America you can book a personal counselling session with one of our expert advisers by phone, Skype of WhatsApp online.
Does the UK offer scholarships for international students?
Many universities will offer some type of (partial) scholarships to international students, some are automatic ones, others will be competitive. Scholarships tend to change every year so it is best to check with us if there are any scholarships available for the programme you are interested in. Often you will find that scholarships in the UK are partial scholarships or bursaries, ranging from a few hundred to several thousand pounds and there are some universities that may offer higher scholarships. It is important to note that courses in the UK are usually shorter compared to similar careers across Latin America or the United States so the overall tuition fee in the UK may work out cheaper. Please note that in order to apply for a scholarships you first need to apply and secure a firm study place from a university.
The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office runs the annual British Chevening Programme. The Chevening Programme offers scholarships to allow bright, non-British, students to study at UK higher education institutions.
Please note that as an international student it is not possible to secure study loans from banks in the UK when you are a foreign national who does not work or live in the UK.
Mexican students, especially those studying at Postgraduate level, may find there are various opportunities available for scholarships or study loans (creditos) through organisations such as CONACyT, FIDERH or FUNED (Mexico), Programa de 100 Becas de estudio para la Soberanía Científica y Tecnólogica (Bolivia) or Don Carlos Antonio Lopez (Paraguay). If you'd like to receive some more information about these scholarship and student loan schemes available please contact us.
What level of English do I need to study in the UK?
In order to succeed in your studies, you need to have a very good command of the English language. Therefore international students that apply for undergraduate or postgraduate courses must be able to prove they have a sufficient level of competence in English. You can prove this by taking a recognised UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) approved Secure English Language Test (SELT.)
- What English test scores are required by universities?
The level of English required depends on the university where you will be studying and the level and difficulty of the programme you apply for. For instance, an English Literature programme may require a higher score than a Fine Art programme. Most universities ask for a 6.5 in the IELTS Academic exam overall and may have specific requirements in each component of the IELTS test depending on the programme.
- What English test scores are required by Pathway/Foundation colleges?
Students that have to study a Foundation, Pre-Masters or Graduate Diploma course are often required to obtain an IELTS score (or equivalent) of at least 4.5 or 5.0
This would often secure students a place on a 3-term foundation programme. A higher IELTS score (5.0 or 5.5) would mean that students can start on a shorter, fast-track, 2-term foundation programme.
- How long is my English language exam certificate valid for?
The IELTS Academic is valid for 2 years. As long as your certificate is still valid on the date you apply for your visa you can use that certificate for your UK Study visa application.
If you have an offer from a university but your English language certificate has expired before you apply for your visa you HAVE to re-take a recognised English language exam before you apply for your visa.
- Where can I take the various English language tests?
In Mexico, tests are offered throughout the country on a regular basis. For instance, the IELTS exams are regularly conducted in many cities across Mexico including Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Xalapa, Culiacan, Merida, Veracruz, Chihuahua, Queretaro and Puebla.
- IELTS test centres and test dates
To find out more about IELTS Academic or IELTS for UKVI test centres and test dates in your country please click here.
An IELTS Academic exam will cost 4,000 MXN* and the IELTS Academic for UKVI will cost $4647 MXN*.
- TOEFL iBT test centres and test dates
To find out more about the TOEFL iBT test centres and test dates in your country please click here.
For more information about Secure English Language Tests accepted by the UKVI please click here.
*Prices correct May 2020
When is the application deadline for UK universities?
Most courses start in September each year although some courses have a second intake, starting in January each year. In theory you can enrol up to a few weeks before the start of the study semester as long as there are places available and you leave enough time to make all the necessary arrangements such as apply for your study visa, look for accommodation, arrange your travel and finances, etc.
Please bear in mind that places can fill rather quickly, depending on the popularity of the course you apply for. You also need to give yourself enough time to make all necessary arrangements in preparation for your studies in the UK. Therefore we advise you to start the application procedure as soon as possible, ideally about 6 - 8 months in advance of your study start date in order to avoid disappointment.
How much does it cost to study in the UK?
If you are considering to study an undergraduate or postgraduate programme you will need around £9,250 - £12,000 to cover your living expenses for 12 months, depending on where you will live. Studying in the London metropolitan area is more expensive than studying outside the London area.
Tuition fees for undergraduate or postgraduate courses vary and can be anything from £11,000 to £25,000 (USD 14,600 - 33,200*), depending on the programme and the university you've applied for.
In order to obtain a PBS Student Route visa, you need to be able to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself throughout the duration of your first year of studies in the UK.
As of 01 December 2020, the funds you need to be able to demonstrate you have available are:
- £1,334 a month for study in London
- £1,023 a month for study outside London
The maximum amount of money you must have is the relevant sum multiplied by nine months.
* November 2020 exchange rates
Can you help me with translations of my documents?
Yes we can.
It is important that your translations meet the university application requirements as well as future visa application requirements. Unfortunately in our experience a lot of students apply with translations that cannot be used for visa purposes, wasting money in the process as you will have to translate documents twice. We want to avoid this inconvenience and that's why Inova Education has, for many years, partnered with Seven Seas Translations and our students benefit from their prompt, professional and certified, UKVI compliant translation work.
Our students benefit from:
- A high quality professional and personalised service from expert Spanish to English translators
- University and UKVI visa and immigration regulation compliant translations, so you won’t have to do them twice
- Special reduced prices for all Inova Education students
- A very quick turnaround.
- You will receive your translations electronically as a high-resolution PDF. If required, hard copies can be couriered anywhere in Latin America (against an additional fee)
If you’d like to receive a competitive quote please do so online here.
Before submitting a translations request to our partner please ensure that your Inova Education advisor has confirmed confirmed your Spanish language documents meet the university admission and visa requirements to avoid you wasting money on translations which cannot be used.
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
Most overseas students that want to study a pre-university, undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the UK will be required to apply for a study visa.
Not until a student has received a 'Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from their UK host university can they apply for a visa. The CAS will not be issued until you have secured an unconditional offer from an educational institution recognised by the UK Visas and Immigration office (UKVI.) In addition students will need evidence they have secured funds to study and live in the UK and often a deposit payment may be required. Students also need evidence they have met the minimum English language requirements set by the UKVI and university.
There are some other visa categories as well, depending on your age, level, and duration of study. Inova Education will verify if you need a visa, what type of visa and, in most cases, will provide a free service to guide you through every step of the visa application process.
The cost of applying for a standard study visa and biometric enrolment process is £348 (or approximately $460USD*), which is payable to your local Visa Application Centre.
To receive more information about the visa application process, or to request our help with your application, please get in touch. Students that apply for a UK university with Inova Education's help will receive free visa guidance and application support as part of our overall package of services we offer our applicants.
New Student Route
As of the 5th of October 2020, the previous Tier 4 (General) Student Visa and Tier 4 (Child) Visa routes has been replaced for a new visa route, called the Points-Based Student Route.
The workings of this visa route will remain identical to the current programme but become more streamlined with some key changes covering the following areas:
- The period of time in which a student can apply for a visa before the start of their course will increase to 6 months, from the current 3 months. For those applying for visa renewals from within the UK it remains at 3 months.
- The current Tier 4 Pilot Scheme will close on 05 October 2020 and be replaced by the new Student Route (please see our FAQ 'Can I work in the UK after graduation?')
This new visa route will offer extended periods during which international students can work, or look for work, following successful completion of their studies and increase from the current 6 months to 2 years (for Masters students) or 3 years (for PhD students.)
- Students, and their dependents, that have been living in the UK for 12 months or more, will no longer have to demonstrate ability to financially support themselves, when applying for a continuation or extension visa. In addition they can now apply from within the UK supplying less documentation. This is good news for students progressing from a Foundation course to an undergraduate course, from an undergraduate course to a Masters course or from a Masters course to a PhD course.
- Students at degree level, or above, will no longer be required to submit academic qualification documents when applying for a visa. This assessment is done beforehand by the university sponsor.
* Prices correct as of November 2020.
Tier 4 Visa Pilot (replaced for new Student Route and Graduate Route)
What is the Tier 4 Pilot?
The Tier 4 Pilot Scheme finished on 05 October 2020 and has been replaced by the new Student Route and Graduate Route.
The Student Route offers all international students, successfully graduating from a UK university, from the summer of 2021 onwards, a 2 or 3 year work visa extension under the new Graduate Route instead of the 6 months under the current Pilot scheme. This benefit will become available to all international students starting their studies from September 2020 onwards. For more information please see our FAQ 'Can I work in the UK after graduation?'
Differential Evidence arrangements
What are the Differential Evidence arrangements?
Students from Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, as well as those (dual) nationals applying under their EU, EEA, Swiss, Canadian or United States passport, benefit from a simplified student visa application process as they are allowed to submit fewer documents with their visa application.
The differentiation arrangements apply for PBS Student Route and PBS Child Student Route visa applications.
Students that qualify under the Differential Evidence arrangements will still have to meet the immigration documentary requirements, like any other visa applicant, but they do not have to submit the following documents with their visa application:
- Documents showing your previous academic qualifications, such as diplomas or transcripts of results
- Documents showing you meet the finance/maintenance requirements incl evidence of relationship to a parent or legal guardian providing financial sponsorship
- English language test certificates or documents
- Evidence of academic progression (successful completion of a previous course in the UK, on a Tier 4 visa)
Students will have to apply for entry clearance from the country where they are living (country of residence) and ensure they apply with their main nationality being from one of the above mentioned countries.
Dependant family members will also benefit from the scheme provided they apply for their visa at the same time as the main applicant, apply for entry clearance in their country of nationality and hold the same nationality as the main applicant.
Note: Dependants applying on or after 01 December 2020 dependants need to provide evidence of finances.
Can my family or partner join me in the UK?
If you will be studying in the UK on courses for six months of less you cannot bring your dependants (partners and/or children) to the UK.
International students that study on longer courses can only bring their dependants in special circumstances and provided you obtain a visa for your dependants.
Students that want to, and are allowed to, bring their dependants need to be able to financially support them for the duration of their stay whereby the UKVI stipulates specific maintenance fees for each dependant. If you intend to bring your dependants you need to speak to us as you need to prepare for this well in advance.
How do I find accommodation in the UK as a student?
Universities offer accommodation for international students and all the institutions we work with will automatically guarantee accommodation to our students and help you find a room that suits your budget and requirements.
University accommodation ranges from university owned halls of residence, which may have restaurants, to self-catered private sector halls of residence, apartments and student houses. Inova Education staff will advise you on what options are available when you book a course through us and how to apply for student accommodation. In fact, students can book a room in private student halls of residence directly with Inova Education in pretty much any student city around the UK.
What is ATAS and do I need it?
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is a requirement for non UK or EU students that apply for postgraduate study in certain subjects. Students that require ATAS clearance will usually be notified about this on the offer letter that they receive from the university they applied to. However, if students are not sure if their course requires ATAS clearance they should check directly with the university they've applied to.
- Students need to apply for an ATAS certificate, and obtain ATAS clearance, BEFORE they apply for a study visa. Without ATAS clearance your visa application will not be successful.
- Students can start the ATAS application with either a conditional or unconditional offer.
- If students hold more than one offer for a programme that requires ATAS clearance they need to apply for separate ATAS clearance certificates for each university and programme of study.
- Obtaining an ATAS clearance certificate does not guarantee students a visa or extension of stay.
- Students can apply for an ATAS certificate up to 6 months in advance of the beginning of their course.
- Applying for an ATAS certificate can be done online and the application is free.
- The FCO aims to process all ATAS applications within 20 working days although this time may increase during busy periods.
For more information on ATAS please visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Medical Care whilst studying in the UK
All students, and their family members, applying for a PBS Student Route Visa, are required to make a contribution to the UK's National Health Service. This payment is called the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and will ensure you have full access to medical care during your stay in the UK.
This means that there is no need to take out additional private medical insurance, other than travel and medical insurance covering your trip to and from the UK or trips outside the UK.
From 01 October 2020 onwards the Immigration Health Surcharge will increase from the current £300 per year (or part thereof) to £470. Most students for the autumn 2020 intake will apply well before the 1st of October so the charge remains at £470 per year or part thereof.
Students on a EU passport will also have to start paying this fee from the 1st of January 2021 unless you have settled status (indefinite leave to remain) or pre-settled status (limited leave) under the EU settlement scheme.
You pay the IHS charge at the same time you apply for your study visa.
Tuberculosis test requirements for students
Students from certain countries need to have a tuberculosis (TB) test if they are coming to study in the UK for more than 6 months. If you take the TB test you will be receiving a certificate that is valid for 6 months. You need to be tested at a Home Office approved clinic. The certificate needs to be submitted with your visa application and cannot be more than 6 months old by the time you submit your visa application.
Residents from the following Central and South American countries need a TB certificate.
Suriname (get tested in Guyana)
For more info please visit the Tuberculosis Tests for Visa Applicants page on the Home Office website.
Can I work in the UK during my studies?
International students, that are undertaking a course at degree/undergraduate or postgraduate level at a higher education institution and whose course will last for at least 6 months, are allowed to work 20 hours per week part-time during term-time and full-time during vacations. Students that undertake foundation level courses are not allowed to work during their initial course with the exception of those students studying at so called 'integrated colleges.' Students that undertake courses that last less than 6 months are not entitled to work during their studies.
When considering the option of looking for employment during your studies you have to bear in mind that your main aim is to study and complete your course successfully. We know from experience that many international students often do not have enough time to work next to their studies as courses in the UK are shorter in duration and thus can be more intensive. Most universities recommend that students do not work for more than 12 hours per week as otherwise your studies will suffer.
In accordance with European employment law employers have to pay you a minimum wage depending on your age.
You do not require official permission to work up to the permitted hours, provided you are not engaging in business, self employment or the provision of services as a sports person or entertainer. You can also undertake work placements which are part of your course or undertake internship placements with an employer whilst studying in the UK.
Whatever your plans, please ensure that you never depend on income received through work to pay for your studies. In order to obtain a study visa and gain entry clearance to the UK you must be able to prove you have sufficient funds to pay your tuition fees and living expenses for at least the first year of your studies.
Can I work in the UK after graduation?
All international students that enrol on a UK university course in September 2020 and graduate from the summer of 2021 onwards, will be able to stay in the UK to work, or look for work, after they graduate under the new Graduate Route.
The Graduate Route is a work-visa that allows all Undergraduate and Master's degree students to stay for an additional two years, after completion of their studies, whilst PhD students will be able to stay for a further three years. Students whose dependants are already with them in the UK will be allowed to stay as well and apply for further leave at the same time as the student.
The Graduate Route will be open to all international students, who have valid leave as a Tier 4 (General) Student, or as a student at the time of application, and who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above, in its entirety. Although students will have to formally apply for this automatic work-visa extension, there is no requirement to meet any maintenance requirements or demonstrate English language ability as that will already have been proven by successfully completing a degree at a UK university. This visa route will be points-based, with the full number of points being awarded for the successful completion of a degree from a UK Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
Applicants apply whilst in the UK and will have to pay the relevant visa application fee (expected to be the same as the current Student visa) as well as the standard Immigration Health Surcharge to ensure medical cover whilst they extend their stay in the UK by 2 or 3 years.
Whilst a student is on the Graduate Route, or following it, students will have the ability to switch into further Skilled Worker routes as well provided they meet the requirements of these routes.
The current Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), open to international students who have completed a PhD in the UK and allowing them to remain and work here for 12 months after completing their studies, will be closed from the moment the new Graduate Route is introduced.
Note: Students that, due to Covid 19, start their studies in the autumn of 2020 by distance/blended learning will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route, provided they arrive in the UK by 06 April 2021 at the latest to start on-campus teaching. Some universities will expect you to arrive much earlier though so please check with your university should you intend to start part of your studies from overseas.
What is the weather like in the UK?
The UK has a moderate climate with an average summer temperature of around 16 degrees Celsius and average winter temperature of around 3-6 degrees Celsius. Winters in the UK and Western Europe are relatively mild with temperatures rarely dropping below zero degrees Celsius during the day.
However, for students coming from warmer countries, the climate in the UK is something you will have to get used to, especially during the winter when it can get very cold. In return for any hardship endured during winter, you will however enjoy the mild spring and summer period in the UK with the additional benefit of long daylight hours.