Getting accepted into a London university is only the first step. Once you’ve been admitted there are still steps you need to take in order to legally enter the UK as a student. You will need to have a valid passport and other requirements that will be outlined later in this article that can be quite intensive, but the experience that awaits you is well worth the effort required. The city is incredibly welcoming to students, and with such a culturally diverse population it makes for a great environment to your studies. So it is vital that you take advantage of the information you will read in this report so you know what to expect beforehand and can make your preparations as early as possible. Doing so, you will find that moving to London as a student can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
If you’re attending a university in London (or anywhere in the UK) from anywhere outside of the EU, you’ll need to acquire a student visa, referred to as Tier 4. You should be aware upfront that those applying for a student visa must be enrolled full-time; part-time students will not be able to obtain one. Visas are awarded on a point-based system, and you will need to get 40 points from the following two sources:
Course Confirmation – Universities approved by the UK Immigration and Visa (UKIV) program can give you what is called a Certification of Acceptance of Studies, or CAS. This is worth 30 points towards the visa process. In order to sponsor students from abroad, universities must have applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) or be an A-ranked college in accordance with the UK government. Other colleges will not be able to provide a CAS and won’t contribute points to your visa application regardless of enrollment. Make sure that your university has HTS and can provide CAS before applying. The university can help you through the rest of the process.
Evidence of Income – Here you will need to provide documentation that shows you can afford your tuition as well as your living costs. The average yearly London tuition costs ranging from $15,500 to $47,000. You’ll need to show that you’ll have roughly $1,650 a month for nine months to cover living expenses.
If you meet these two requirements, you can then submit your application online. You will, at some point, need to have your photograph and fingerprints taken at an approved visa application center. You’ll also have to pay into the EU’s National Health Service or NHS. The cost is $200 a year for student applicants and the fee can be paid when the application is submitted.
While in the United States a college student can work however many hours as they’d like. The UK, however, has tighter restrictions on how much work a student can do. An international student studying in London on a student visa can work up to 20 hours a week while they are actively studying. During holidays students may work full time, but this is the only exception to the rule.
There is another restriction to keep in mind, too. A student’s university must be listed on the UK government’s UKVI sponsor list as well as the list of recognized bodies. Most institutions that can provide you with a CAS will be listed under UKVI, you’ll want to make sure they are included in both lists.
In addition to what you pay as part of the application process, you’ll need to carefully plan ahead to ensure you are able to make ends meet while living in London. Though you’ll have to prove that you can support yourself financially when you apply, knowing what to expect before you arrive will help you establish a budget and mitigate any surprises that may arise.
Without a doubt, the biggest non-tuition expense you’ll face is your rental costs of the space you plan to live in. The best universities in London provide a Halls of Residence option, which is essentially dorm living. The prices generally range between $65 to $100 a week. Accommodations in Halls of Residence, such as cafeterias, vary from university to university and may alter the price you pay. The cost of living in London is, on average, over $1,500 per month more than other parts of the United Kingdom. However, you should know that those areas that lie further away from the heart of the city (Zone 1) tend to have lower rental costs. You can save money by opting for a flat over a house or by going in on a rental property together with other students. Regardless, take your time when choosing where you want to live. You’ll be there for the duration of the school year at least, so its location relative to your school as well as public transport and other services can make your life more comfortable (and potentially save you more money, too).
Even if you live near the university you’ll be attending, you may find you’ll still want to access the other parts of London, if not other areas of the UK as well. Buying a vehicle is generally an expensive option. Instead, you can utilize London’s extensive public transportation options. With buses, trains, and subways moving along routes through all nine zones, everything in the city will always be within your reach.
The costs associated with public transportation are dependent on the methods used and how often you use them. Like housing, London has higher transportation costs than most of the UK. However, students are eligible for a discount. The Oyster card program allows students to save 30% on their transportation costs. Students can apply for them online but will need to wait until they are enrolled in a university and have secured housing (a London address is required as part of the application). Oyster cards are only available to students who are at least 18 years old.
The other expenses you need to cover—like food, entertainment, and your mobile phone plan, for example—are harder to give an estimate on because they really depend on the choices you make. Some universities do give an estimate, such as University College London. They recommend setting aside $500 a week to cover personal items, necessities, insurance, and classroom materials. Ultimately, it’s up to you to shop around to find what you need in a price range you feel comfortable with, and to determine what it is you actually need versus what you simply want. Try to keep everything in a reasonable balance; if you find yourself short of cash at the end of the week, take a moment to reconsider your expenses and what you can change going forward. It may not be easy (or even possible) to make more money to compensate.
There are, of course, some ways to help offset the cost of living. Enrolling as a student in the United Kingdom, for example, gets you a National Union of Students ID card. The NUS card is recognized by many shops and services and will provide you with discounts on everyday items if you’re willing to shop where it’s honored. Use this to your advantage to keep as much money in your wallet as possible.
Careful planning and research is the key to making an easy transition into London student life. If you can visit the city before you begin your studies (not just your university or where you’ll be living). The more you know beforehand, the better prepared you’ll be and the easier you’ll adapt.
London, England has long been an epicenter for the cultured, the well-versed, and the well-taught. Each year countless individuals from around the globe flock to the prestigious academic institutions of the city for the start of the fall semester. What has kept London schools like the University of London in the top ten ranked universities in the UK for so long? They’re energetic, historical, diverse, and offer students a wide range of academic options.
If you’re planning to move to London as a student, you will find that there is a wealth of universities from which to pick. That’s true regardless of the industry you’d like to pursue or the area in which you’d like to live. We’ve taken the time to compile some of the best educational options in the city in order to help you make the best choice for your needs. Make sure to take a look at our other articles for more information about the different areas of London and what you can expect from them!
Any list of the top universities in London must start with King’s College due to its history alone. King’s College is one of the oldest universities in the city and has a deeply-rooted tradition of academic excellence across its various programs. The school consistently ranks among the top forty schools in the world and has a flexible curriculum that allows students to have more control over their educational goals. King’s College is located in the heart of the city, so there is always something for students to do.
City University has long been a standout in London due to its stellar academic reputation. Graduates of this university are highly employable, and since the school has close ties with the business world in the city, that field of study is a particularly popular choice at the school. The school does boast over 100 disciplines, including well-respected journalism and law departments. Students will find that there is plenty to keep them occupied as the school is near The West End, a lively area of the city.
For students looking for the top universities in London with studies in science, medicine, and engineering, Imperial College is perhaps the first academic institution to consider. The college has led both the nation and the world in its various intellectual specializations for years and offers graduates the opportunity to couple any of its fields of study with the business for an even better work prospect. The college is located right in the middle of the city, too, which allows students to enjoy themselves with a variety of activities while not in class. From football matches to great pubs, there are few things out of recreational reach.
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics (LSE) attracts a lot of international students every year thanks to its booming economic and political science programs. The school has close ties with numerous institutions around the world, giving graduates a particularly bright career outlook. Due to its central location within the city, the university continues to attract individuals hoping to experience London while also preparing for a respectable career. Students looking for culture and education would be wise to check out this prestigious school.
London Metropolitan University
A relatively new school in the city, London Metropolitan University is fast becoming a premier location for aspiring scholars. With over 150 graduate and undergraduate courses to choose from, there is something here for everyone. More commonly referenced as the London Met, the school boasts state of the art facilities and two campuses, one in the heart of London and the other in the coveted Islington area. This school may not yet have the storied history that some other entries on this list boast, but it certainly has the tools and accolades to compete in London.
University of Greenwich
The University of Greenwich has attracted the attention of many collegiate due to its vocational programs that are focused on providing graduates with all the skills they need to find work. The school is well connected, and its student unions regularly host all types of events for the school’s diverse body of local and international students. All the perks of East London are also available, and students will notice the significant improvements being completed in the area.
University College London
University College London, or UCL, is one of the most prestigious schools in the world and serves as the dominant arm of the University of London. The number of disciplines offered at this prestigious school is unprecedented, and their graduates are often considered high-value prospective employees both in the U.K and worldwide. The school is located in the heart of the city and offers students the full “London experience”.
University of the Arts London
For artistic souls, the University of the Arts London offers an incredible number of potential courses. These include concentrations in design, fashion, performance art, and much more. Quickly rising in the ranks of art schools in Europe, this university is scattered across several points in the city, something that makes the experience for students all the more exciting. For the artist looking to take in the beauty of London while improving their craft, this is the school to check out.
School of Oriental and African Studies
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is a breath of fresh air in the city. It allows students the chance to broaden their horizons by immersing themselves in the cultures of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Studies focus on today’s most prominent issues such as democracy, human rights, identity, and social justice. More than half of the student body comes from outside the U.K, and they enjoy the prime Bloomsbury location in the heart of the city.
Imperial College London
Imperial College London consistently ranks as one of the most prestigious schools in the world. Boasting impressive medical faculty as well as a superb business school, this technology-focused institution is situated just south of the city center. Students who earn a degree from this school can expect a very good job outlook and an unforgettable experience that encompasses all the culture and education of London.
Student Guide To London – Culture, and Education
You can see why London is considered an epicenter of high education and why so many individuals work hard to be accepted into the prestigious schools of the city. It’s important to note that students of all strengths and interests are likely to find something that fits them among the wealth of universities located in the city. London offers as many opportunities from artists as it does for scientists, in other words, and the options listed above are not the only educational choices to keep in mind. There is all manner of universities and vocational schools that simply didn’t fit on this list, so make sure to do your research to find the perfect fit for your academic and career goals.
London schools are sure to continue ranking high on education lists, and the city will keep providing students with all the activities that make it a great place to study and live in full time. Check out page 2 of our student guide to London for more important information!