Photo of Queen's University Belfast ©

Mat Wright

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. 

UK universities are preparing to welcome new students in autumn 2020. Almost all universities are preparing to deliver some in-person teaching this autumn term. Some will blend face-to-face teaching with online technology and tools to enhance student education and ensure teaching is delivered in a safe environment. In the UK, your wellbeing comes first. 

As an international student, you should stay in touch with the institution you are interested in studying at for the latest information and support.

Find out more below. 

Health and wellbeing

Many UK universities have gone above and beyond to ensure that your health and wellbeing are prioritised. Universities have already 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.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is available to all international students. As part of the Tier 4 visa application, applicants are required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. The Immigration Health Surcharge costs £300 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


Individuals, and their households, should follow advice on self-isolation if they have symptoms of Covid-19. The NHS is providing specific Covid-19 advice through its online service.

Please note that public health advice may differ between the UK’s four nations. Find out more below:

View the government guidance on isolating in university and college halls of residence and student housing for advice on how you should manage isolation for individuals or groups if someone either shows symptoms of, or is confirmed to have, Covid-19.

Face coverings

The UK government recommends using face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible. It is now a legal requirement to wear a face covering on public transport and wearing a face covering is now mandatory in shops in England and Scotland. 

Across the UK, you are encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. Face coverings do not replace social distancing, where this is possible.

View the government guidance on face coverings.

Visa applications

The UK government is working to ensure that existing visa processes are as flexible as possible, so that international students who are planning to study in the UK can do so.

Although some visa centres are currently closed, you can still familiarise yourself with UK visa requirements. Talk to your university about English language evidence you will need to make your visa application. Many English language testing centres are closed, but universities can use other forms of evidence to demonstrate English language ability.

These include:

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, Tier 4 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 through distance learning and remain eligible for their Tier 4 student visa. This is provided that you transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow it. View the updated guidance.


The UK government has announced that it will introduce a series of measures and restrictions at the UK border. 

First, the UK government currently requires international arrivals to supply their contact and accommodation information.

Second, the UK government currently requires all international arrivals, not on a short list of exemptions, to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days on arrival into the UK. From 10 July 2020, unless you have visited or stopped in another country in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from a list of exempt countries will not be required to self-isolate on arrival. View the list of exempt countries and further travel advice for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. This policy has no firm end-date and will be reviewed every three weeks. 

We want you to feel welcome and at ease when you arrive in the UK and we understand that you may feel anxious about these requirements. 

Please contact your university to find out how they can offer you support and advice with arriving in the UK. 

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 Tier 4 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.
  • Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible.
  • International students present in the UK before 6 April 2021 will still be eligible for the two year Graduate Route, if you meet the other requirements of the route, even if you begin your course online before travelling to the UK in person.

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

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

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. 

UK universities are committed to supporting all students, including international students already in the UK, as well as those considering studying in the UK from autumn 2020. If you have any concerns about the support you are receiving or are due to receive – UK universities will be happy to help you. 

If you are considering applying to study in the UK in 2020, there's still time to apply to some courses. You can apply to open undergraduate courses between 6 July and 20 October through 'Clearing' a system specifically designed to match empty university places to applicants who suit them. Many postgraduate courses remain open for applications over summer. Contact your chosen institution or look on the UCAS website.

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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