top of page

Applying to a UK University: A Beginner's Guide to Getting Started

The UK has always been a popular destination for international university students. Despite travel restrictions and uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the number of international students choosing to study in the UK has continued to rise. According to UCAS, the organisation that manages all applications for UK universities, 88% of international applicants still consider the UK as a positive place to study.

However, applying to a university in a new country can feel like an intimidating process. Carfax Education has the expertise to guide you along the way to ensure success!

At Carfax Education, we have a dedicated international team of University Consultants, that can support and guide you through the selection and application process.

Our Education Consultant, Nikita Khodkov, shares an overview of the application process for International students. The application process can have a more complex application with visa’s, language tests, and pre-arrival requirements.

1. Decide on a course

The most important step is finding the course that is right for you! As well as thinking about your future career choices, you might also want to consider combining your interests and doing a joint honours degree. Other important points that might influence your decision are opportunities like spending a year in another country or a course that provides a year of work experience.

2. Find the right university

Once you’ve decided which subject area you’re most interested in, this will help you decide on which university is right for you. As well as finding a university with the best course available, other things to consider are where do you want to live? Do you prefer a big city experience? Or a smaller campus style university? There’s lots to think about and it’s a big decision as you will be there for at least three years.

If possible, it’s a great idea to visit a university open days which will give you a chance to see the university and accommodation, meet lecturers and speak to current students who can help answer any questions you might have.

3. Register with UCAS

If you want to apply to study for a degree in the UK then you need to register with UCAS. There is plenty of advice and support on the website to guide you through the logistics of the application process.

4. Apply

Applications for most courses will be looking at your current and predicted grades, as well as your personal statement. Your personal statement is your opportunity to make your application stand out. You will need to cover your passion for your chosen subject area, what extra-curricular interests you have and any other assets like work experience or volunteering.

Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge will require you to do an interview for all courses and specialist courses such as medicine will also require an interview.

5. Accept your offer

If you are successful, you may receive an unconditional offer from your university which means your place is secure, regardless of your exam results. More commonly, you will receive a conditional offer, dependent on securing specific grades.

You will arrange these offers into a first and second choice before you get your results.

Should you not make the grades for your conditional offer, you can always check what other courses are available through a process called ‘Clearing’, which happends on exam results day.

6. Arrange funding

Once your place is secured, you will need to work out how you will fund your place. Not only are there tuition fees to consider, but money for books and other study materials, as well as living expenses. There are scholarships available to international students which may help.

7. Apply for a visa

Most international students will need a visa in order to study in the UK. You can find out more details on your eligibility here. Most visas will allow you to live and study in the UK, and you may be able to take a part-time job or internship, depending on the type of visa and which university is sponsoring you.

8. Prepare for your stay

Once you have your visa, you’re all set! Now you can look at things like accommodation, what you will need to pack, healthcare and more to ensure you’re as prepared as possible when you arrive in the UK.

Our dedicated university team at Carfax Consultants support prospective undergraduates through the University application process - We normally start with an initial consultation and our Higher Education student profiling service, which helps to identify the best fit degrees and universities for you. We have also arranged trips for prospective students to visit universities they are considering applying to and helped with personal statements and interview preparation.

For more information about our University Consultancy services, please contact


bottom of page