International student guide to preparing for studying in the UK in 2021

The UK is one of the most popular study destinations for students from all over the world. Despite the havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic, both UK universities and students living in the UK and abroad are gearing up to start a university from September 2021. The UK not only offers students an unmatched experience but also provides world-class learning. That’s why every year, thousands of students from different parts of the world head to the UK to pursue both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Unlike other years, UK universities and students too faced the disruptions caused by COVID-19. However, the UK has been at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus and has introduced multiple safety measures to ensure a safe return for students and staff on different university campuses across the UK.

So, if you too are applying or planning to start university in 2021/2022, here is a carefully curated international student guide that will help you smoothly prepare for studying in the UK in 2021.

Know about British universities

A majority of UK universities receive a certain amount of funding from the central government. Due to this, they are popularly known as public universities. To be eligible to receive public funds, universities need to validate the quality of their teaching and research activities. Thus, students can be assured of receiving a good quality learning experience from public universities in the UK.

Furthermore, different universities offer different courses. Hence before applying, students must check if the university offers any programs based on their expertise and connections to the industry.

In addition to public universities, there are several private universities in the UK. Although these universities focus on the fields of Business, Law, and Management, most of these institutions are affiliated with an accredited university. Students must carefully check the type of university and the programs they offer before applying for a course.

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Apply for the visa

As soon as you understand the different UK universities and have found out the universities that offer courses based on your interests, you can start applying to the universities. Once your application is accepted you will receive an acceptance letter from the university. This letter is very important to apply for a student visa in the UK.

Based on the new visa regulations imposed after Brexit, EU/EEA and Swiss students who wish to study in the UK in 2021 will have to apply for a student visa. Whereas non-EU/EEA students will have to either apply for a General Students Visa commonly known as Tier 4 Student Visa or a Short-Term Study Visa.

The type of visa you require will depend on the duration of your course. For example, a Short-Term Study Visa is available for 6 or 11 months. This visa is for students who enroll for a short language course or plan to visit the UK for a short period of research and as a part of their existing degree program.

On the other hand, a Tier 4 Student Visa is for students who take up full-time academic degree courses such as Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Ph.D. Based on their country of residence and course duration students must check the official government website for their visa eligibility and the type of visa they can apply for.

Check out the fees and funding options

Factors such as university, course, and nationality of a student determine the fees that need to be paid for the degree. British students are usually charged ‘home’ fees that are at a lower rate. However, students from other countries will be treated as international students and will be charged a higher overseas rate. After Brexit, EU and EEA students applying for UK universities in 2021 will also be considered as overseas students and will have to pay the same fees as other international students.

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Students who wish to study in the UK can either pay their entire fees without applying for funding or check out different funding options available to fund their degree. Based on the type of funding you might also have to pay interest rates to pay your fees.

Students residing in the UK can find a wide range of funding opportunities that depend on their personal circumstances. From postgraduate loans to UK Government funding and scholarships or charities and trusts you can check out the different funding options and pick up a suitable option for you.

English Language Requirements

Students whose first language is not English will have to provide proof of their proficiency in English at the time of applying for their Student Visa. However, if you have completed an undergraduate degree from an English-speaking country you might not need this proof. Depending on your course description you will have to check out the minimum score requirement in your English language test. In the UK, Universities accept four major types of English Language tests namely:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
  • Cambridge Assessment English’s C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency
  • PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)

Post-COVID Scenario

As universities are gearing up to welcome international students to the UK again, students need to understand that their life on campus after COVID will be slightly different than expected. To offer students greater flexibility, many UK universities are providing options for late arrival and Dual Start for different programs. These options will help international students who might not be able to start their university in September 2021 due to travel restrictions.

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Furthermore, other universities are offering blended learning options which include remote and on-campus learning. Universities are also using technology to the fullest to give their students an optimum learning experience. While students will be able to visit the university campus, they must be prepared to follow social distancing rules implemented by their universities.

Additionally, after the arrival of international students, it is expected that they will be accommodated in safety bubbles to minimize contact during the first semester. These safety bubbles will be based on the country of origin and the course you’re enrolled in. International students must adhere to all these rules and make their provisions based on the rules implemented by the UK government and the university.


In conclusion, although there are many hurdles and requirements for international students to apply to the UK. From finding the right course to funding and vias, the quality of education you will receive will be excellent. The time taken and invested in the application will be worth it when you arrive and begin studying Covid safely in the UK.

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