Goldsmith University, Kings’ College, Imperial College of London… Do these great universities in London make you dream? Studying in the UK is now more complicated for young Europeans looking to get a degree across the English Channel.
Complicated, of course, but not impossible. Since January 2021, the price of a year in the UK has doubled for European students! So a Masters in Journalism at Goldsmith now costs around £10,870 for a British applicant, while the same program amounts to £20,540 for your French, Spanish or German counterpart. To get a student visa, therefore, you should already be ready to put more of your hand in your wallet.
Result? Since Brexit, many people have given up on their dream of studying in the archipelago. Farewell to the Harry Potter campus, the graduation gown and hat. For those still wanting to leave, here’s how I managed to get my post-Brexit student visa.
Applying for a student visa in Great Britain: the steps to follow
1. First, you must be accepted to a UK higher education institution.
In my case, it is through a Masters in International Relations at Richmond University. To do this, we must first anticipate! Letters of reference, cover letter, official transcripts in English and an interview are usually required to secure a place at a university in the UK. It is a course that requires between two weeks and two months. So plan to do this in advance.
2. Obtain a “CAS number”.
This fourteen-character code is the key to obtaining a student visa. It constitutes the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, that is, the guarantee that you are accepted by the establishment. Your visa application cannot be made without this document. Obtaining this number is subject to payment of 40% of university fees.
3. Next, go to the official UK government website to start the visa application process. To go faster, click directly here.
4. Verify your identity.
Fortunately for you, if you are a European student, you still benefit from several advantages. First, if you’re in a hurry, as I was, you can download the UK Immigration ID Check app. This makes it easy for the UK government to send you the documents needed to verify your identity. The app saves considerable time as it avoids the procedure of making an appointment in person at an immigration office.
Second advantage designed to make your life easier: you do not need to officially prove that you have the financial means to live in the UK during your studies. So, if I wasn’t European, I would certainly have to certify the presence of £13,000 in my bank account for at least 28 consecutive days. Which, you will hear, is not easy to prove when you are a student!
5. Last but not least step: pay your visa fees. The best option is to apply for a visa outside the UK. You pay 422 euros, which is cheaper than an order placed in the UK.
The biggest expense remains the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is an NHS contribution that varies depending on the length of your stay. For my part, the IHS amounts to 859 euros. Again, good news, it is possible to request a refund!
Personal information, travel, health…
Again, you will need to be patient. And with great determination. In fact, you have to fill out a nine-page personal question form online. From the most basic to the most unexpected questions, the British government reviews its life. Here’s an example of what you can find there.
After successfully passing all the steps outlined above, you still need to wait for a response that will be sent to you by email within three weeks. Don’t worry, I got a reply in just two days. Once the visa has been accepted, you will be able to prove your right to study and work (20 hours per week) thanks to a code to be shared with employers, apartment owners and universities.