Are you Eligible?
Different countries apply different yardsticks to assess the eligibility criteria for an international student to visit or remain in their country.
Find out here on your eligibility to apply to go to or remain in the United Kingdom as an adult student. Find out what you need to apply, what to do if you currently have a visa and want to switch in to the adult student category, how long you can stay for and what type of course or work placement you can do.
What you need to apply
To be able to apply as an adult student you must have:
- a place on a course with an approved education provider - 30 points; and
- enough money at the time you submit your application to cover your course fees and monthly living costs - 10 points.
Type of study or work placement you can do
You must study a course at an acceptable level, and you must ensure that you fulfill the requirements for each type of course.
You can do a work placement only if its length is not more than 50% of the total length of the course in the United Kingdom, and you can do a Student Union sabbatical officer job for up to two years.
Postgraduate doctors and dentists can do a recognised Foundation programme for up to three years.
- approved at level 3 or above on the National Qualifications framework (NQF);
- approved at the same level in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF);
- approved at the same level by the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (ACCAC);
- approved at the same level by the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland;
- are short-term study abroad programmes in the United Kingdom as part of your qualification at an overseas higher education institution, as long as the qualification is confirmed as the same as a United Kingdom degree level by UK NARIC. You can find contact details for UK NARIC on the right side of this page; or
- an English language course at a level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. If you want to do another English language course after your first course, you will need to show a formal assessment of the English language level you got.
As an adult student, you must be doing full-time study in the United Kingdom on either:
- a full-time course of study that leads to a United Kingdom recognised bachelor or postgraduate degree; or
- an overseas higher education course which is recognised as being equivalent to a United Kingdom higher education qualification at an overseas higher education institution (this can include a work placement); or
- a course of study below United Kingdom degree level that involves a minimum of 15 hours per week organised daytime study (daytime study is 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday).
You can go to the United Kingdom to study an English language course. The minimum level of study is set at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) Level A2.
If you are enrolled on a higher education course at overseas higher education institution, you can do a short-term study abroad programme in the United Kingdom as part of your qualification. This is as long as the qualification is validated as the same level or above as a United Kingdom degree by UK NARIC. You can find contact details for UK NARIC on their website at http://www.naric.org.uk.
You are allowed to do a recognised Foundation Programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in the United Kingdom in the adult student category as long as you meet all the requirements for the category.
There are also some additional requirements you must meet. These are as follows.
You must have successfully completed a recognised United Kingdom degree in medicine or dentistry from:
- an approved education provider who has a license to bring in students; or
- a United Kingdom publicly funded institution of further or higher education; or
- an institution on the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) list of recognised bodies or listed bodies, which keeps satisfactory records of enrolment and attendance. These lists can be found at the DIUS website.
You must have been given permission to stay in the United Kingdom as a student under the rules in place before 31 March 2009 or as an adult student. This permission must have covered your final academic year and at least one other academic year of your studies leading to the above degree.
You can get a maximum period of three years' permission to stay as an adult student to do a recognised Foundation Programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist.
As an adult student, you will be allowed to do a work placement as part of your course of study, as long as the work placement is an assessed part of the course. In most cases, the work placement must be no more than 50% of the length of the course in the United Kingdom. An example is if a course is two years long and the first year of the course involves full-time study, with the last year in a work placement.
The work placement can only be more than 50% of the length of the course if there is a legal (statutory) requirement for the course to contain a specific period of work placement.
If you are enrolled on a higher education course at an overseas higher education institution and you are coming to the United Kingdom to do part of your course, you may also do a work placement as part of your course as long as it is no more than 50% of your study in the United Kingdom.
If you have a visa letter for a course which involves a work placement, your approved education provider will remain responsible for you throughout the work placement.
A course to prepare you for study is an intensive English language course or any other course you take to prepare you for your main course of study in the United Kingdom.
The course must be at the correct level for adult students or child students, whichever applies to you.
If you have an unconditional offer of a place on your main course, we will give permission for both courses at the same time if you are doing the course to prepare you for study:
- with the same approved education provider as your main course; or
- with a partner institution named on the approved education provider's licence.
If you only have a conditional offer to do your main course, you will need to apply to do the course to prepare you for study first. If you successfully finish that course, you should apply for a new visa while inside the United Kingdom.
to continue your studies on your full-time course. We will send you a letter to let you know we have received your application. As long as you make your application before your permission to stay runs out, you can start the full-time course in the meantime. You do so at your own risk as we could refuse your application.
If the course to prepare you for study is below the acceptable level, you may want to apply under a different immigration route. But it is not possible to switch into the adult or child student category if you are in the United Kingdom as a child visitor or student visitor. You must leave at the end of your course and apply from outside the United Kingdom.
A student union sabbatical job is a full-time, salaried, elected executive union position. You may take this job during your studies or in the academic year immediately after you graduate, and you must apply as an adult student.
If you take the job while you still have time left in your permission to stay as an adult student, your approved education provider must let us know as they are responsible for you until your permission to stay (known as leave to remain) runs out.
If you want to do the job at the end of your course, and you have no more time left in your permission to stay as a student, you must apply again and meet the requirements of the category.
A sabbatical job is normally for one academic year and you may be given permission to stay as an adult student to cover this time. If you are re-elected after one year, you will have to apply again. You can only have the job for a maximum of two years.
The requirement that a work placement be no more than 50% of your overall course in the United Kingdom does not include any period that you are in post as a student union sabbatical officer.
While your education provider is not exempt (free) from their reporting duties, your contact with them is likely to be different because of the nature of your work.
You can do additional work but it is restricted to part-time work during term-time (no more than 20 hours a week) and full-time work during vacations, if you are not working full-time for the Students' Union in the vacations.
As a child or adult student, you are allowed to do extra courses, for example, evening courses, as well as your main studies. The course can be on any subject, and does not have to relate to your main course of study.
You do not need permission to do extra studies, and you do not need to tell your approved education provider. But you must make sure that the extra course does not get in the way of the course that you have permission to stay for.
If you have a visa in a different category
You may be in the United Kingdom currently in an immigration category that allows you to switch into the adult student category.
Choose a heading below to show more information.
You can switch in to the adult student category if you have, or were last given, permission to stay in the following categories:
- post?study worker (tier 1);
- skilled worker (tier 2 General);
- intra-company transfer (tier 2);
- minister of religion (tier 2);
- child student (tier 4);
- prospective student;
- student re-sitting an examination;
- student nurses;
- students writing up a thesis;
- Student Union sabbatical officer;
- work permit holder;
- a postgraduate doctor or dentist;
- participant in the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme;
- participant in the International Graduates Scheme;
- participant in the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme.
Some nationalities do not have to apply as an adult student to be able to study in the United Kingdom, and certain nationalities must meet some requirements to be able to work while studying.
You do not need to apply for a student visa if:
- you are an EEA or Swiss national;
- you are a British overseas territories citizen, unless you are from one of the sovereign base areas in Cyprus;
- you are a Commonwealth citizen with permission to enter or stay in the United Kingdom because at least one of your grandparents was born here;
- you have no conditions or time limit attached to your stay.
How long can you stay?
The time you are allowed to stay for is the same if you are applying for a new student visa or if you are applying to extend your student visa.
You are allowed to stay for the full length of your course, and for some time after your course, before you leave the United Kingdom. The time you are allowed to stay for after your course depends on the type of course you study.
If you are 18 years old or over and studying below degree level, you will only be allowed to study for a total of three years in the United Kingdom. (This does not include any time that you have spent studying below degree level under the student rules that were in place before 31 March 2009.)
If you have financial sponsorship, and your sponsor limits the time you can study in the United Kingdom, we will limit your stay to the same time as your sponsorship.