There are two main routes for students who wish to study in the UK. They are:
Short Term Student
Available under two categories: generally for those intending to study for less than six months (or less than 11 months for the English Language Courses)
- Short term student, including 11 month Short Term Study visa for English Language courses only
- Short Term student (child): For students under 18
Under the Points-Based System (PBS) – available under two categories (generally for those intending to study for more than six months):
- Tier 4 General Student
- Tier 4 Child Student
Note: Students requiring a visa to study in the UK will need to obtain Entry Clearance before they travel to the UK and must follow the relevant immigration regulations during their studies in the UK as well as when they apply for their student visa.
Short Term Student route
1. Short Term Student: 18 years old or above, courses of maximum of 6 months.
Students enjoy freedom in that, they do not have to study full time and there is no requirement for the course to lead to an approved qualification.
However, Short Term students are more restricted than their Tier 4 General Student counterparts in the following ways:
- they will not be allowed to do any work or work placement (even if it is part of a course, or is unpaid)
- they will not be able to extend their stay in the UK, i.e. they must return home and re-apply if they wish to come back to the UK for more studies.
To be considered for a Short Term Student visa, students must show that they have been unconditionally accepted on a course that is provided by an organisation that is the holder of a Sponsor Licence for Tier 4 or accredited by a UKVI recognised accreditation body. Students must have the financial resources to accommodate and maintain themselves during the visit.
2. 11 month Short Term Study visa: 18 years old or above, English language courses of maximum of 11 months.
This visa allows students wishing to study English Language courses to apply for a visa to stay in the UK for up to 11 months.
Useful link: Home Office website
3. Short Term Student (child): 17 years old and under, courses of maximum of 6 months.
Students are more restricted than their Tier 4 Child Student counterparts as they will not be able to extend their stay in the UK, i.e. they must return home and re-apply if they wish to come back to the UK for more studies. In addition to the documents required for a Short Term Student visa, students under 18 will need to have made arrangements for their travel and stay in the UK and have permission from their parent or guardian to study in the UK.
When should you use the Short Term Student route?
Students should only come on a Short Term Student visa, if they are absolutely certain they:
- will not want to work in the UK
- will not want to stay for longer than six months (or 11 months in the case of English Language courses)
- Does not have a SELT or SELT grades below relevant Tier 4 requirements. (see Tier 4 route section below for more information)
unless there will be enough of a gap between their studies to allow them to return home and re-apply for a new visa to continue their studies in the UK.
You should allow typically 1 - 3 months to apply for your visa depending on the time of year.
Full details on applying under each visitor route can be found here.
To find out if you need a visa to study in the UK, visit this webpage.
Tier 4 visa route
Generally speaking, this is the best route for those intending to study in the UK for more than six months. Those already in the UK under a valid Tier 4 visa can apply to extend their UK visa without having to return home, whereas this option is unavailable under the ‘short term student' route.
Please note that all students applying for Tier 4 (for over 6 months) from summer 2015 will be given entry clearance for one month only. Students will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card within 10 days of arriving in the UK. Your institution will give you more details on how to collect the card and you will also receive a letter from UKVI with more information following a successful visa application.
A student cannot make an application more than three months before the start of their course.
There are two categories under Tier 4:
- Tier 4 General Student: Also known as Adult Student for those aged 16 years or above.
Maximum length of stay under the Tier 4 General route is 3 years for courses below degree level and 5 years for courses at or above degree level. Please refer to the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also known as UKBA) website for exceptions.
- Tier 4 Child Student: For those aged 17 years and under coming to study at independent fee-paying schools or further education colleges. Note – children between 4 and 15 years old may only be educated at independent fee-paying schools and are unable to study English Language courses. Students aged 16 & 17 can only be assigned a Tier 4 Child CAS for a maximum of 3 years.
Students aged 16 or 17 years old can apply either as a ‘Tier 4 General Student' or a ‘Tier 4 Child Student' if they are studying a course at National Qualifications Framework (QCF/NQF) Level 3 or above.
We generally advise that 16 or 17 year olds apply under a Tier 4 Child Student visa rather than the Tier 4 General. For 16 or 17 year olds studying a course at QCF/NQF level 2, then they must apply under Tier 4 Child route.
Visa Interview Guide
Download our Visa Interview guide
What is the Visa Interview (Credibility Test)?
A Visa Interview is a way for Visa Officers to check whether students are genuine. They will ask questions about why you have chosen your course to ensure that you are a serious student and check your English level. These interviews can take the form of video-linked interviews, face-to-face interviews and telephone interviews.
Students applying for a Tier 4 Child visa will not be called for a visa interview, but any student applying for a Tier 4 General visa can be asked to attend an interview.
- Video-linked interviews are carried out at the Visa Application Centre (VAC) when students submit their application in their home country. The Interviewing Officer will be based in the UK and the communication will be done via the video-link facility and the Interviewing Officer will be asking a series of questions around student’s intention to study the course with the institution in the UK.
- The Credibility Test can also be a face-to-face interview with an Entry Clearance Officer at the local embassy or consulate for which students would normally be invited to attend an appointment in advance. The questions will be around intention, but can also be around their financial background, previous education/work history and other immigration-related questions.
- Telephone interviews can also be conducted at times with a Visa Officer so students must make sure their telephone contact details are up to date and be prepared that there is a chance they might be called upon by the Visa Office.
How do I prepare for the Visa Interview?
We do recommend our students to prepare for these visa interviews so they can answer the questions properly and accurately to assist the Visa Officers who will be assessing their applications. This also ensures there is minimum delay to the processing of their visa application. Here are a few things to bear in mind:
- Do attend - Failure to attend the interview may result in your application being automatically refused. In the event you cannot attend, contact the Visa Office to reschedule.
- Do answer- You should always answer all questions fully and honestly.
- Do think - You should think in advance about your course, the documents you provided in your visa application, and your intention to study. The UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also known as UKBA) want to know that you have given serious thought before choosing your course.
- Do speak in English! - One of the most important things they will be checking is your level of English, so always answer in English, not via an interpreter.
- Do ask - Ask for clarification if you do not understand a question to make sure you are providing the information they want.
- What is the name of the school? This may not be the same as the school's Tier 4 name – check your CAS statement for such details.
- Did you use an educational agent at any stage (even if you stopped using them)? Who is/was your agent and why did you choose them?
- Why did you choose this university/college/school? Why did you choose this course and how does it relate to your previous study? Why do you wish to study in the UK? Why not stay in your own country to study, if similar courses are available there?
- What is your plan after completing the course? Do you intend to stay in the UK (for additional studies) or are you returning home?
- If you are changing course or study pathway, why are you are making such a change of direction in your studies?
- How do you explain any gaps in your previous education/employment history?
- What is the course name and academic level? What qualification will you get after the course if you pass? This is all on your CAS and/or offer letter.
- When does the course start and finish? How many terms/semesters is it?
- What are the modules/subjects of the course? What will you study during the course? How are you going to be assessed on the course? You can find all this information on the centre website.
- Did you do any research before choosing the school/course? What other schools/courses did you consider, and why did you decide on this one?
- How is this course going to benefit you for your future career and/or academic plans?
- Who is going to pay your tuition fees and living costs? Where did they get the money? What is their salary?
- You might need to provide documents to prove your financial ability to study in the UK, such as additional bank statements and proof of income from your financial sponsors. Do you have all of these? Make sure you bring additional documentations required by the Visa Office.
- Do you know how much it costs to live in the UK and also what you might spend on day- to- day items such as food, travel and accommodation?
- Do you know the total cost of the course and have an idea on any future courses?
Living in UK
- Where is the school? Which city is it in and which part of the UK does it belong to?
- Have you arranged accommodation? If not, why not? How will you/did you find it?
- How much does accommodation cost in the city/town where you will be studying?
- How will you commute between your accommodation and the school (bus, train, underground etc.)?
English language entry requirements
Tier 4 General Student
Students applying for Tier 4 general must complete and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT).
All students requiring a SELT will need to take an IELTS for UKVI test at an approved SELT centre if their test was taken after 6 April, 2015. If you took a valid SELT test before 5 April, 2015 you can use your SELT certificate for visa applications made until 5 November, 2015.
View the current list of approved tests.
Please note that students progressing from a Tier 4 Child visa to a Tier 4 General visa are exempt from the SELT requirement.
They must complete and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) for English language and academic courses as follows:
- QCF/NQF Level 3-5: CEFR Level B1 (IELTS 4.0 minimum in all 4 components)
- QCF/NQF Level 6+: CEFR Level B2 (IELTS 5.5 minimum in all 4 components)
All Master's Foundation programmes offered by Cambridge Education Group are at QCF/NQF Level 45, requiring only a minimum of CEFR B1/IELTS 4.0 for entry onto the Extended Pre-Master's Programme. Many Pre Master's programmes available from some other providers are graded at QCF/NQF Level 6 and therefore require a CEFR B2/IELTS 5.5.
Students over 18 with English below B1/IELTS 4.0 will have to use the Short Term Student route.
Tier 4 Child Student
- there is no need for a Secure English Language Test (SELT) as Cambridge Education Group can self-assess entry level of English (with no minimum restriction) and recommend appropriate English training to each student's needs
- students can take pre-sessional English language modules before their main academic course under one single CAS
Only CATS and CSVPA students may use the Tier 4 Child visa route. ONCAMPUS and Stafford House School of English students will be close to university age, hence following the university visa route, i.e. Tier 4 General route.
- Further details about the Tier 4 General student visa can be found here.
- Further details about the Tier 4 Child student visa can be found here.
Secure English Language Tests (SELT)
Only the following types of students are not required to undertake a SELT in order to obtain a Tier 4 General visa:
- Tier 4 General applicants who are sponsored by a Higher Education Institute (HEI) courses at or above QCF/NQF Level 6.
- Tier 4 Child applicants
- students who have successfully completed a course as a Tier 4 (Child) student/Under Pre-PBS rules when granted permission as an under 18 year old, which was at least six months in length, and ended less than two years before the date their Tier 4 General CAS is assigned
- nationals from a Majority English-speaking country
- students who have completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree which was taught in English in a Majority English-speaking country (including UK).
Hints and tips on getting a SELT
- Book a SELT test as early as possible before your intended course start date - centres are limited and may get booked up quickly
- We are working closely with Pearson, who can offer rapid access to test locations in many countries. If you need assistance, please contact our Central Admissions team.
- Use the Child route where you can (CATS/CSVPA/SoE only)
- Use the SVV (or ESVV) route, especially where students risk failing the CEFR B1 (minimum IELTS 4.0 or equivalent in all of the four components)
UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also known as UKBA) majority English-speaking countries
Nationals from these countries are exempt from requiring a SELT:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and New Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United States of America
- United Kingdom - (not actually listed in the policy guidance but clearly ok!)
The Points-Based System
In order to qualify for Tier 4, students must pass a points-based assessment and score 40 points by satisfying the following:
|Number of Points
Presentation of a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a licensed Tier 4 sponsor.
Evidence to show they have the finances to study in the UK (known as maintenance) by demonstrating they can cover:
- Course fees for up to 9 months.
- Monthly living costs for up to 9 months.
See table below for specific amounts depending on length of course.
A bank statement must be provided to confirm the student (or parent/legal guardian) has held the money for a minimum of 28 days.
Total points required to be granted a visa.
Certification of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
The Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) will include information about the student, their sponsor (education provider), their course and their finances.
Cambridge Education Group's admissions team will send out CAS statements to those who need to apply under the Tier 4 route. This is conditional upon the student fulfilling the terms set out in their offer letter and having confirmed their place(s) by returning the required deposit or sponsorship letter. The CAS statement should then be included with their visa application.
The CAS statement from our admissions team will include:
- The student's name, nationality and passport/travel document number.
- The sponsor's licence number, address and contact details; any details of partner institutions or overseas institution (if the course is jointly taught).
- Course details such as title, level, qualifications to be awarded, start and expected end date, hours per week, address of student's main place of study.
- Course fees for the first year and any payments already made. If relevant, any accommodation fees for the first year and any payments already made.
- Documents used to obtain the offer: this will give a brief description of our assessment of the student's academic level and English proficiency, including details such as student's previous courses/qualifications and Secure English Language Test results. If a student has previously studied in the UK under Tier 4 route, an Academic Progression statement on how the new course of studies represents academic progression is also included here.
For a list of UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also known as UKBA) approved Secure English Language Tests, visit this webpage.
Most student visa refusals under Tier 4 are due to errors in financial documentations. Please read this section carefully and use the link provided for up to date advice.
Depending on the length of the course, the amount of finance required to satisfy the points-based assessment will vary as follows:
Tier 4 General
|Length of course
||Where you will study
||Maintenance (finance) needed
|9 months or less
||Full course fees + £1,265 for each calendar month of the course
|9 months or less
||Full course fees + £1,015 for each calendar month of the course
|More than 9 months
||First year of fees + £9,180 to cover the first 9 months
|More than 9 months
||First year of fees + £7,380 to cover the first 9 months
For more information on Tier 4 General maintenance requirements, visit this webpage.
Tier 4 Child
The financial evidence required will depend on whether you are boarding at the independent school or living independently. Please refer to the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also known as UKBA) website for full details.
The Financing (or maintenance) criteria can be funded either by:
- The student (or parent or guardian) or
- A financial sponsor.
If it is through a financial sponsor, this means a student is given money to cover their course fees and living costs. If their financial sponsor is only covering some of the student's course fees or living costs, then he/she must show evidence that they have the rest of the money needed (as above).
The student must provide a letter of confirmation from their official financial sponsor, which may be Her Majesty's government, the student's home government, the British Council or any international organisation, company or university. It should not be a relative (except parents) or non-international company.
The letter of confirmation must be on official letter-headed paper or stationery of the organisation of the official financial sponsor, feature the official stamp of that organisation and show the:
- name and contact details of the official financial sponsor
- date of the letter
- full name of the student (that appears in their passport)
- length of their sponsorship
- amount of money that the official financial sponsor is giving to the student or a statement that they will cover all (or part) of the student's fees and living costs.
Evidence of Funds
For bank statements, they must:
- Be dated no more than one month before the visa application submission date;
- Show that the entire amount required (as per above) has been in the account for 28 consecutive days (and has not fallen below the required amount throughout the 28 days)
- Be for a cash account
Fees Paid to Institutions
Fees already paid to institutions towards student's tuition fees can be deducted when calculating how much money a student needs to meet the maintenance funds requirements for a Tier 4 visa application. Please note for fees paid towards accommodation, a maximum of £1,000 can be offset against the required funds for Tier 4 General students and Tier 4 Child students who live independently. If in any doubt, please contact our admissions team for advice before making a payment towards the balance of your fees.
Applying using your parent's documents
If parent's bank statements are used in the visa application, submission of the following to prove the relationship between parents and the applicant is also required:
- Original legal documentations (or notarised copy) from parent/guardian who are financially supporting the applicant. The documentation should confirm the relationship between the parent/guardian and the applicant. This could include the following:
- Birth certificate showing the applicant and the parents' names;
- Certificate of adoption showing applicant and the parents' names;
- Court document showing the applicant and the legal guardian's names;
- A letter from parent/guardian confirming the relationship between the applicant and the parent/guardian and that parent/guardian's consent to using their funds to pay for the tuition and maintenance during the applicant's studies in the UK.
Download and read our quick reference guide to evidencing your finances to ensure you satisfy the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also known as UKBA) requirements.
Types of sponsor
There are currently three levels of Tier 4 sponsor ratings:
- Tier 4 Sponsor status
- Probationary Sponsor status
All Cambridge Education Group Colleges and Centres have Tier 4 sponsor status.
This means that students already in the UK holding a Tier 4 visa, wishing to transfer to any Cambridge Education Group College/Centre from another institution, can start their course with us as soon as they have sent their visa extension application, before having received a decision from the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also formerly known as UKBA).
The Tier 4 sponsor licence register can be found here.
Tier 4 Sponsor Licence Details (as at April 2015)
|CEG Centre / Colleges
||Tier 4 Sponsor Licence Name
||Tier 4 License Number
||Tier 4 Rating
||Type of Tier 4 CAS
||CEG College/Centre Address
CATS College Cambridge
Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts
CATS College London
|Cambridge Arts and Sciences
||Tier 4 Sponsor
||CATS College Cambridge & CSVPA: 14 Round Church Street, Cambridge, CB5 8AD
CATS College London: 43-45 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2RA
|CATS College Canterbury
||Tier 4 Sponsor
||68 New Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3LQ
|ONCAMPUS London (Birkbeck)
||Tier 4 Sponsor
||ONCAMPUS London: Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX
||Tier 4 Sponsor
||ONCAMPUS Coventry: Priory Building
Coventry CV1 5FB
||University of Central Lancashire
||Tier 4 Sponsor
||ONCAMPUS UCLan: Vernon Building, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE
|ONCAMPUS London South Bank
||London South Bank University
||Tier 4 Sponsor
||ONCAMPUS London South Bank: 90 London Road, London SE1 6LN
||University of Sunderland
||Tier 4 Sponsor
||ONCAMPUS Sunderland: The Johnson Building
Sunderland University, City Campus
Sunderland SR1 3SD
|Stafford House School of English (Canterbury & London)
||Stafford House School of English
||Tier 4 Sponsor
Stafford House School of English Canterbury: 19 New Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent CT1 3AH
Stafford House School of English London: 2 Southampton Place, London, WC1A 2DA
Note: International students can only study with a licensed sponsor. As a condition of being a licensed sponsor, the education provider is responsible for the student while they are in the UK. All Cambridge Education Group colleges and centres will liaise with the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration, also formerly known as UKBA) and are obliged to report students to the UKVI if they 1) do not arrive for the start of their course 2) withdraw from their course 3) defer or suspend their studies 4) are absent for significant periods of time.
The visa checklist
Students will need to:
- Complete the appropriate visa application form
- Pay the visa application fee
- Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Please click here for full details.
- Students will need to provide the following:
- passport or travel document
- a CAS statement from a licensed sponsor
- documents to show they meet the maintenance requirements (such as a bank statement featuring the student's name (or parent or guardian, with evidence of relationship) or a loan in their name or government sponsorship
- Documents listed by their sponsors in the CAS statement assigned by their Tier 4 sponsor, such as academic transcripts and IELTS certificate.
- Biometric details
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Card (if applicable)
- Signed declaration of genuine funds (since 4 July 2011)
- TB certificate (click here to see if you are required to possess a TB certificate before submitting your application for your UK student visa)
Read more about visa interviews.
Working whilst studying
International students are able to work in the UK as per the conditions imposed in their visa during their studies with opportunities available including:
- part-time work
- vacation work
- course-related work placements.
The post-study work category of Tier 1.
Working whilst studying brings many benefits including extra money and it can also help to improve their English language. However, they should be careful not to let their job interfere with their studies as this is, after all, the reason why they are here in the UK. Do not under-estimate the hours needed to focus on studies in order to successfully achieve the desired academic result.
Students may work part-time for a number of hours during term time depending on their course, age and type of visa.
Tier 4 General Students:
Only those studying at a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) or a publicly funded further education college will be entitled to work under a Tier 4 General Student visa.
For those at a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI, i.e. publicly funded universities):
For courses at or above QCF/NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9, or a short-term study abroad degree programme, students are allowed to:
- work for up to 20 hours per week during term time;
- work full-time during vacations
For courses below QCF/NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9,(applicable to all the modern ONCAMPUSCentres Coventry, LSBU, UCLan, Sunderland) students are allowed to:
- work for up to 10 hours per week during term time;
- work full-time during vacations
At a publicly funded institute for courses at any level, students are allowed to:
- work for up to 10 hours per week during term time;
- work full-time during vacations
Tier 4 Child Students:
The student's ability to work is determined by their age.
- Under 16yrs: cannot work at all during their time in the UK;
- 16yrs and above are allowed to:
- Work for up to 10 hours per week during term time;
- Work full-time during vacations;
- Do a work placement as part of their course;
- Volunteer and non-paid work is permitted.
Students do not have to seek approval from the UK Border Agency for such employment.
If you require any assistance or clarification on any of the above, please contact our admissions team and we will be happy to assist.
The only students who are eligible to bring dependants will be either:
- Post-graduate students on courses at QCF/NQF level 7 or above of more than 12 months' duration or;
- Government-sponsored students
- Dependants of both of these categories of students will be able to work