St Andrews University  ©

saintgayleshoots (Gayle E McIntyre)

Here in the UK, a warm welcome is waiting for you. 

Our open and inclusive way of life will inspire you, our rich cultural history will fire your imagination and - as our universities are the among the most trusted and respected in the entire world - you’ll be able to develop your best and brightest ideas by studying here. 

Across the UK, quality teaching is taking place this academic year. Universities are providing high quality, flexible options to international students, such as studying online or facilitating later start dates. There are some exciting and innovative examples of high-quality online learning being delivered by institutions across the UK. 

As an international student, please stay in touch with your university for the latest information and support.

We want you to feel welcome and at ease when you arrive in the UK, and would like to reassure all current and prospective students that UK universities are looking forward to welcoming you. 

Find out more below. 

Health and wellbeing

With one of the best healthcare systems in the world, globally respected policing and low crime rates, studying in the UK is exceptionally safe and secure. 

Many UK universities have gone above and beyond to ensure that your health and wellbeing are prioritised. Universities have implemented a number of Covid-19 support services that current and future international students can access. Contact your institution for information on what they’re doing to support international students.

Public health 

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is available to all international students.

As part of your student visa application, applicants are required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. The Immigration Health Surcharge costs £470 per year for a student, giving students access to NHS services without further charge (subject to a few exceptions, such as prescription charges in England). Find out more about this here

You can find Covid-19 support and advice from the NHS here.

The NHS also provides international students with specific Covid-19 advice through a new Covid-19 online service or by calling 111. 

Please note that public health advice and requirements for Covid-19 may differ between the UK’s four nations. Find out more below:

In addition, the UK government has issued specific guidance on how universities should manage isolation for individuals or groups if someone either shows symptoms of, or is confirmed to have, Covid-19 in university and college halls of residence and student housing. You can view that government guidance here. 

Face coverings

It is now a legal requirement to wear a face covering over your nose and mouth on public transport in the UK. 

You must also wear a face covering in most indoor spaces in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, such as shops. 

View the government guidance on face coverings.

Visa applications

Most international students need a student visa to study in the UK. Finding out whether you need a visa to study is easy - simply check here.

Due to Covid-19, many UK Visa Application Centres had to close, but the majority are now back open worldwide – for the latest information please visit:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS Global for all other countries 
  • UK service points (UKVCAS)

However, even if your local visa application centre is currently closed, you can still familiarise yourself with UK visa requirements. We recommend you talk to your university about the English language evidence you will need to make your visa application.

Many English language testing centres are now open too, but universities can use other forms of evidence to demonstrate English language ability if your test centre is still closed.

These include:

Please note: different institutions have different requirements, so make sure you check what form of English language evidence you will need with your institution.

The UK government has announced concessions for students who have, or will be applying for, student visas, in light of Covid-19. It has confirmed that new international students starting their degrees in the 2020-21 academic year will be able to begin their studies online and remain eligible for their student visa. This is provided that you transition to face-to-face learning when circumstances allow it. View the updated guidance here.


If you are unable to travel to the UK just yet to begin your course, your university will be able to support you online. Universities will continue to support students before arrival to the UK, and throughout their time here. 

Please see information on entering the UK here.

In summary, the UK government currently requires all international arrivals to:

  • supply their contact and accommodation information
  • self-isolate in their accommodation for 10 days 

From 15 December 2020, if you’re arriving into England from a country not on the travel corridor list, you can take part in the Test to Release for International Travel scheme. If you opt into this scheme, you can choose to pay for a private Covid-19 test five days after arriving in the UK. If the test is negative, you can stop self-isolating.

Please note that from Monday 18 January 2021, passengers travelling to England will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken up to 72 hours prior to departure. More information is available on GOV.UK.

We know how daunting moving to another country can be, and we want to reassure you that universities are working hard to ensure that you know what to expect before you travel to the UK and are welcomed and supported on arrival by your chosen university.

Get in touch with your university to find out more about how they can support you.

The Graduate Route

From summer 2021, international students who have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree will be able to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK upon graduation, through the new Graduate Route. Students who complete their PhD will be able to stay for three years. Here is everything you need to know:

  • The Graduate Route will be available to international students who have a valid student visa at the time of application and have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
  • Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years if they have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree. PhD graduates will be able to stay for up to three years. Graduates will be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job.
  • The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses. 
  • The Graduate Route will require a new visa application.
  • It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course.

This is a fantastic opportunity for international studets that will help you take your first steps into employment after graduation in the UK.

For more information, and to view frequently asked questions, visit the Home Office blog.

UK universities are committed to supporting all students, including international students already in the UK, as well as those considering studying in the UK in the future. If you have any concerns about the support, you are receiving or are due to receive – your university will be happy to help you. 

Further information

Many British Council offices are running webinars to provide international students with up-to-date information on studying in the UK and some are running pre-departure briefings. Please contact your local British Council office to find out what support is available. 

Follow us at @StudyUKBritish on Twitter, @studyuk_britishcouncil on Instagram and @StudyUK.BritishCouncil on Facebook for regular updates. You can also sign up to our newsletter to get the latest information. 

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