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UK Student Visa: How to Study Abroad in the UK from India

Matt Kefford

Matt Kefford - BusinessBecause

Matt Kefford is a writer for BusinessBecause and mba.com.

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Every year Indian students are drawn to the benefits of studying in the UK. There’s a host of degree options in cities like Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, and, of course, London.

In 2021, there were around 55,000 Indian students among the UK’s universities, and many enrolled at business school.

It’s no surprise. In London alone you have top institutions like London Business School and Imperial College Business School, who offer degrees ranked among the best in the world.

So, if you’re in India and want to join the swelling ranks of Indian students looking to study abroad in the UK, here’s everything you need to know, from your UK student visa to the benefits of studying in the UK.

Which UK student visa do you need?

To study abroad in the UK, you have a couple of student visa options depending on your circumstances.

If you’ve been accepted and have a place at business school for a full course of study, you need to get the UK’s Student Visa—this has replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa. If you’re already studying elsewhere, but have an exchange as part of your degree and wish to study in the UK, you’ll need a Standard Visitor visa, which permits you to study in the UK for up to six months.

You shouldn’t have much trouble securing your visa—Britain accepts 96 percent of Indian student visa applications—but processing your application can take up to three working weeks (15 days). Applying will also cost you £348 (US$458).

You should aim to apply as early as possible. If you’re applying for a student visa from outside the UK, the earliest you can apply is six months before your course start date. If you’re applying from inside the UK, it’s three months. You can start your application as soon as you receive your acceptance letter.

What do you need to apply for a UK student visa?

You’ll need to have prepared some documents to complete your visa application.

You’ll need proof in the form of an acceptance letter that you’ve been accepted on a UK-based degree. This is called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). The school will also provide you with a visa letter which needs to have been issued within the previous six months.

You’ll also need to provide a current passport or other valid travel document. You may also be asked to provide proof you have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course—this will vary depending on your circumstances.

If you’re studying outside of London, the required amount to cover living costs is £9,207 (US$12,139) for nine months. For those studying in the pricier capital, it’s £12,006 (US$15,832). 

Once you have assembled your documents, you can fill in the online visa application form on the UK government’s visa website, which you’ll then have to print and sign.

The final step is booking an appointment with the visa application center. You’ll have to complete an interview and provide photos and fingerprints before your application is reviewed.

How long will your UK student visa last?

Your visa will cover the length of your program, with an extra month added on after you graduate. You may also be required to renew your visa for each year that you’re studying.

You’re typically allowed to stay in the UK for up to five years if your course is at degree level.

If you’re looking to stay on and work after graduation, the UK’s Graduate Route allows you to stay in the UK for two years and look for jobs. You can’t renew your Graduate visa, but you may be able to transition to a Skilled Worker visa—this replaced the old Tier 2 (General) work visa—which can last up to five years before you need to renew.

Does a UK student visa cover your family?

If you’re looking to bring your family along with you, then it’s good news. If you’re on the UK’s Student visa, your dependents may be able to travel with you.

You’ll need to fill out separate application forms for each family member you intend to bring with you and pay a fee each time. You’ll also need to show extra proof of funds to cover your dependents while you study. This amounts to an additional £680 (US$897) per month if you’re outside of London, or £845 (US$1,114) if you’re in London.

Does a UK student visa allow you to work while you study?

Your ability to work alongside your degree will depend on the program you’ve chosen. Some schools advise against working while completing your studies.

If you would like to work as you study, your UK student visa allows for 20-hours per week during term time. This extends to a full-time basis during vacation periods including Christmas and the summer break.

Degree-related work such as internships, apprenticeships, or work-experience, is not counted under these conditions.

How to have the best chance of securing a UK student visa?

One of the main benefits of studying in the UK is the quality of education. London Business School, Imperial College Business School, Warwick Business School, Oxford’s Saïd Business School, and Cambridge’s Judge Business School were all recently ranked among the top 20 business schools in Europe by the Financial Times.

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Schools also have incredibly diverse classrooms, with many boasting more than 85% international students. There are also an array of industries you can enter after graduating, from finance in London to the burgeoning tech scene in cities like Manchester, Leeds, and Glasgow. 

So, how do you stand the best chance of tapping into that?

To secure your student visa you’ll first need to be accepted by a UK business school. So, you’ll need to present a strong application, complete with good grades and solid work experience bolstered by reference letters and essays.

A key part of the admissions process is the GMAT™ exam, which measures your verbal, math, and critical reasoning skills. And while business schools will assess your application holistically, getting a good GMAT score puts you in a strong position to succeed in the admissions process, land a place at business school, and secure your visa.

Matt Kefford

Matt Kefford - BusinessBecause

Matt Kefford is a writer for BusinessBecause and mba.com, writing stories and creating social media content covering business education. He's also a contributor to the GMAC Connect Blog.

Matt is an experienced media professional, he’s previously written for national news organizations including The Sunday Times and i News, as well as a number of regional titles. He’s also worked in social media for Sky News.

Matt has a B.A. in History from the University of Leeds and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Sheffield. He is also a gold standard accredited journalist with the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

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