How to Get a UK Study Visa as a Nigerian

The UK’s reputation for maintaining a high standard of education across all levels makes it a top global study destination for international students, particularly Nigerians.

Currently, there are over 3000 Nigerian students pursuing education in the UK at various levels. In fact, enrolling in a UK university for your studies can be one of the best decisions you can make for your academic and professional growth.

However, you might be wondering about the process of acquiring a study visa in the UK as a Nigerian and you have probably heard how challenging it can be. But you shouldn’t worry as this article is here to guide you through the steps of applying for your study visa in the UK and provide other relevant information.

Studying in the UK

There are several reasons why the UK may be the best option for advancing your education. Here are some of the common reasons why it is a popular destination for international students, especially Nigerians:

1. Quality of Education

The UK is home to many prestigious and renowned universities with a long history of academic excellence. As of 2021, around 90 UK universities were ranked in the QS World University Rankings, owing to their outstanding educational quality and impressive facilities.

These institutions are at the forefront of global research and development, offering students an immersive experience in top-notch academia that spans decades.

They also offer a wide variety of courses and programs across different disciplines, providing students with numerous options to pursue their academic interests.

2. Multicultural Environment

The UK is a diverse and multicultural country, with students from all over the world studying together. This creates a rich and dynamic learning environment, promoting cross-cultural interactions and broadening students’ perspectives.

Asides from this, there are also lots of Nigerians in the UK so you cannot feel like you are totally in a foreign land. This is because the UK holds a special place for Nigerians, given the historical ties stemming from past colonization, creating a sense of familiarity and comfort for Nigerian students.

The presence of a sizable Nigerian community fosters a welcoming environment where like-minded individuals can connect and support each other.

3. English is Widely Spoken

English is the primary language of instruction in most UK universities, making it an attractive option for students who want to improve their English language skills and enhance their employability.

In fact, there’s no better place to gain mastery of the English language than the country of origin itself.

Studying in the UK also allows students to enhance their speaking and writing skills which are highly sought by employers worldwide.

4. Employment Opportunities and Network

UK degrees are globally recognized and respected, which can enhance a graduate’s career prospects and open up employment opportunities worldwide.

Also, studying in the UK provides access to extensive alumni networks and industry connections, which can be beneficial when seeking internships and job opportunities after graduation.

5. Scholarships and Funding

Many universities and organizations in the UK offer scholarships, grants, and financial aid to international students, making it more affordable and accessible for some individuals.

These universities offer various scholarship opportunities specifically designed to support and attract international students.

These scholarships are often merit-based, need-based, or are awarded for specific fields of study. In addition to university-specific scholarships, there are also government-sponsored scholarships and grants available for international students.

The most well-known scholarship program for international students in the UK is the Chevening Scholarship, which is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

About UK Study Visa

The UK Study Visa is a type of visa that allows individuals from outside the UK to enter the country to study at a recognized educational institution.

There are various types of student visas and they include the student visa also known as Tier 4 (General) student visa, Child student visa and Short term study visa. However, our focus is the student visa which enables students to pursue various levels of education, including undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctorate degrees in the UK. To be eligible for a UK Study Visa, the applicant typically needs to have an offer of acceptance from a licensed UK educational institution that holds a valid Tier 4 sponsor license.

You may be allowed to work while studying, but the amount of work allowed depends on your course and whether it’s within or outside term time.

The duration of your stay in the UK is determined by the length of your course and your previous study history in the country. If you are 18 years or older and pursuing a degree-level course, you can typically remain in the UK for up to 5 years.

For courses below degree level, the usual duration of stay is up to 2 years. Note that you are not allowed to do the following:

You are not entitled to claim public funds or pensions.

Certain occupations such as professional sportspersons or sports coaches are not open for employment.

Being self-employed is not allowed under this visa category.

Enrolling in an academy or a local authority-funded school (maintained school) for studies is not permitted.

UK Study Visa Requirements

If you want to apply for a UK student visa, then you need to meet the following requirements:

1. Valid Passport

You must have a passport and it must have a validity of at least three months beyond your intended stay in the UK. Your passport must have an empty page where your visa stamps would be placed. If you see that your passport’s expiry date is close, then renew it as soon as possible.

2. Visa Application Form

You need to complete the appropriate visa application form online, which can be found on the UK government’s official website. You must carefully and honestly fill out this form as any mistakes could cause your visa application to be rejected.

3. Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies

A crucial requirement for studying in the UK is obtaining a unique reference number known as the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies). This is similar to an acceptance letter from your school. This number is issued by a UKVI-licensed (UK Visas and Immigration) educational institution.

To acquire a CAS, you must first secure an unconditional offer of admission from a UK educational institution authorized to sponsor international students. Once you fulfil all the necessary conditions, the educational institution will provide you with the CAS, enabling you to proceed with your study plans in the UK.

4. Proof of Financial Ability

You must provide bank statements or financial evidence to demonstrate sufficient funds to cover your school fees and other living expenses during the stay.

The required amount of money depends on your specific situation and the purpose of your application. For course fees, you will need to have sufficient funds to cover the expenses for one academic year (up to 9 months) of your chosen course.

The exact amount you need to pay will be specified in your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). However, if you have held a valid visa for at least 12 months in the UK, you are exempt from proving this financial capacity during your visa application.

For other expenses, the required amount of money for supporting yourself varies depending on where you will be studying. If your course is in London, you will need £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months). If your course is outside London, the required amount is £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months). In the case of boarding at a residential independent school, boarding fees will apply, and the exact amount will be specified in your CAS.

If you plan to bring any family members with you, you will need to demonstrate additional funds to support them as well. Keep in mind that you must have the required funds in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days, and the end date of this period must be within 31 days of your visa application date. For example, if you apply for your visa on 1 January 2023, the funds in your bank account should have been available for a continuous period of 28 days, ending no earlier than 1 December.

5. Language Proficiency

You may need to demonstrate your English language proficiency to be given a student visa. To demonstrate your English language proficiency, you must pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider. Regarding the required level of English, you must prove your ability to read, write, speak, and understand English at a certain proficiency level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

If you are studying at the degree level or above, you must demonstrate a proficiency level equivalent to CEFR level B2. If you are studying below the degree level, you must show a proficiency level of CEFR level B1. One popular approved language provider among Nigerians is the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The proficiency level of CEFR B2 as required for the student visa corresponds to an overall IELTS score of 5.5 or above.

6. Proof of Intent to Leave

You must show that you have strong ties to your home country or the country of residence and that you have the intention to leave the UK after your authorized stay.

7. Tuberculosis Test

You need to do a tuberculosis test and provide the result to be eligible for the student visa. This applies to Nigerian students among other nationalities who intend to study in the UK for more than six months. You would need to take the TB test at a clinic approved by the UK Home Office. The approved clinic would provide you with a certificate after the test, which you would include in your visa application as evidence of compliance with this requirement.

8. ATAS Certificate

The ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate is a requirement for certain international students who wish to study in the United Kingdom. It is a security clearance certificate issued by the UK government for specific courses of study that involve sensitive subjects or advanced technologies.

The purpose of the ATAS certificate is to ensure that individuals studying in certain scientific, engineering, and technology-related fields do not use their studies as a means to acquire knowledge and skills that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction or contribute to activities that could pose a security risk to the UK.

If your chosen course falls under one of the subject areas listed by the UK government, you will be required to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can apply for a student visa to study in the UK.

9. Proof of Accommodation

You must provide evidence of your accommodation arrangements for your trip to the country. This could include hotel reservation receipts or receipts from your university’s hall of residence if you have secured a space there.

Other Requirements if you are under 18

If you are under 18 years old, you must obtain written consent from both parents or legal guardians (or sole responsibility from one parent) for the following:

1. Your visa application.

2. Your living and care arrangements in the UK.

3. Your travel to the UK.

Additionally, you will need to provide a copy of your birth certificate or another government-issued document that displays the names of your parents.

UK Study Visa Application Guide

1. Check Eligibility

Ensure you meet all the eligibility requirements for a Tier 4 student visa. This includes having an unconditional offer of admission from a UK educational institution, demonstrating sufficient funds to cover your course fees and living expenses, and meeting the English language proficiency requirements.

2. Choose a Course and Institution

Select a course of study and an educational institution in the UK that is a licensed Tier 4 sponsor. You can find a list of licensed institutions on the UK government’s official website. Conduct thorough research on the different universities in the UK to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences. It is essential to identify the right university and course that aligns with your study goals. Visit the university websites to gather specific information about the courses they offer, including details about duration, tuition fees, qualifications required, faculty, and other relevant aspects.

 

3. Apply Online

Register for an account on the UK government’s Visa and Immigration website to start the application process. Fill out the Tier 4 student visa application form online. You will need to provide information about your course, educational institution, personal details, and other relevant information.

Ensure you apply honestly to avoid any consequences in the long run. Also, gather the supporting documents listed above as you would need them here.

5. Pay the Application Fee

Pay the required visa application fee online using your debit card. The UK student visa costs about $485 but it is advisable to have extra money because of extra charges as they may apply.

6. Biometric Appointment

You need to schedule a biometric appointment at the visa application centre closest to you to provide your fingerprints and photograph. If you applied for a visa for more than six months, you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) after arriving in the UK. This will serve as your official visa during your stay in the country.

7. Wait for a Decision

After submitting your application, you will need to wait for a decision. Visa processing times may vary depending on your country of application. Usually, the UK student visa takes about three weeks to process but this would depend on certain factors.

8. Receive Visa Decision

Once your visa application is processed, you will be informed of the decision. If your visa is approved, you will receive a visa sticker in your passport, which allows you to enter the UK.

Conclusion

The UK is among the top study choices worldwide due to its renowned education system. While some may believe that applying for education in the UK is complicated, that is not the case. We recommend following the guidelines outlined in this article for a hassle-free application process, making it an ideal destination for your further studies.

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