Application Process

Are you looking for information on application process for UK universities from India? This article will help you understand the entire process of application to the universities in the UK from India. Find all the information you need about the process, the documents you need, and the ideal timeline for you to prepare those documents.

People Standing on Stairs in a Queue
Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

Step 1: Deciding the Course and the University

The obvious first step of this process is to decide which course and university you want to apply for. If you are an undergraduate and applying through UCAS, then you can choose to apply to 5 universities through their platform.

Since we have already covered the major decision-making part previously, we will not dwell on this anymore. Do you need help in deciding which course and university are the best for you? I have researched and written an extensive guide on how to decide which course and university are the best for you. You can find that guide here.

Step 2: Taking the IELTS, and preparing the documents

Now, if you are applying from India to any UK university, you will have to take the IELTS to prove that you have the language capability to study at a UK university. I know it might sound unfair especially when you have done your entire schooling at a premium English-speaking school, but that’s just how it is. You need a minimum of 7 or 8 in all areas. But, this will differ according to the course that you are applying for and the university that you have chosen. You need to confirm this with the university that you are applying to.

Preparing Documents

There is a long list of documents that you need ready when you are applying to a UK university, which primarily includes your passport, proof of identification, and a personal statement. I have prepared a PDF list of documents that you would need to apply to a UK university from India. You can download that document here.

Step 3: Applying to the Universities

Your first major step is to make the application to the universities. Now, if you are an undergraduate, I would highly recommend to use the UCAS portal as it is specifically designed for undergraduate students. The portal helps you to submit your application to multiple universities at once. This is done by indicating your preferences. You can then review the offers that you receive from universities all at once.

For PG students, you can use that portal as well. I myself do not have an experience of using the portal as I did not know about it when I was applying. However, you can either use that portal to send your applications, or simply send your application directly to universities.

For PhD students, as far as I know UCAS itself does not offer you the platform to make the application. Hence, for you it would be best to send in the application straight to the university. I would say it would make more sense if you would follow the latter as you would need to get in touch with your academic supervisor about your thesis.

Application Deadlines

The application deadlines for most of the UK universities is around mid January (the UCAS website lists it as 15 January). Therefore, you need to send in your application anytime before that. If you wish to apply to Oxbridge, then you need to send in your application by 15 October (as listed on the UCAS website).

Step 4: Receive the Offer

Once you have submitted all your documents, the university can take anywhere between a week and a month to respond to your applications. Usually in the email that they send you to acknowledge the receipt of your documents they also mention a tentative timeline of when they will respond. For students applying through UCAS, you will find this information on the portal itself.

If you had submitted all of your documents (including the IELTS result s), and if the university has decided to offer you a place then they will give you an unconditional offer. If, however, you had not supplied your IELTS test results then they will only offer you a conditional offer.

Step 5: Reserve your Seat

Once you do receive the unconditional offer, then you have to confirm it and pay the deposit amount to reserve your place. You will receive an email about this from the university. Now, the deposit amount can be anywhere between INR 96,000 to INR 200,000. You will be given a time window to accept the offer and make the deposit payment. Once you do make the payment, you are formally offered a place for study at that university.

Step 6: Receive the CAS

This is a crucial step in the application process for UK universities from India. Once you have been offered an unconditional offer of place at your university, you will then need to wait for the university to procure what is known as the Confirm of Acceptance of Studies number (CAS). This is a unique number which the university will issue as your immigration sponsor. You will need the CAS number to make your application for the Tier-4 UK visa. This number is usually issued within 90 days of your course start date. That means, if your course is about to start on September 15, then you will be issued one after May 15. Although the CAS number is the sole responsibility of the university, you can get in touch with them to understand when they will issue you one.

Make sure that you are keeping a track of the issuance of the CAS as you will not be able to apply for the UK visa without it!

Step 7: Book your accommodation

This an important step in your application process for UK universities from India. While the university works to get your CAS, you will need to book your accommodation. When you apply for your Tier-4 visa to the UK, you will need to provide evidence of where you will be living in the UK. Therefore, this step must be completed before you apply for your student visa.

You can either book a university accommodation, or a student accommodation. It is advised that you start looking for accommodations when after you have made your deposit payment. You will get emails from university about finding various accommodations. I have prepared an extensive guide for students who are looking for accommodation in the UK, which you can access here.

Step 8: Applying for the Visa

Once you have received the CAS, and have also booked your accommodation, you can apply for the Tier-4 visa (what is a tier-4 visa?). Remember, however, that applying for the visa is a task in itself, and requires a lot of preparation. The visa application is made three months before the start date of your course, so make sure that you send your application in time.

It takes about three weeks for the UK government to make the decision, or if you have applied late for some reason, then you can even fast-track your visa application. Obviously, they might charge you more money for a fast-tracked application.

I have prepared a detailed list of the documents that you need to apply for the UK Tier-4 visa, which you can find here.

Step 9: Receiving the Visa

Once you have submitted your documents for the visa, you might need to give an interview. It will all depend on how the UK government deems fit. If they do ask you to come for the interview, your main target would be to clearly state in your application that you desire to study and work there for as long as you can and then come back to India. That is just one of the tips I received when I had applied for my visa. Why should you say that? We can talk about it later.

Once your visa is approved, which will normally happen within three to four weeks of your application, you can congratulate yourself, and buckle up for the journey!

Step 10: Packing and saying goodbyes

This is where you say goodbye to your friends and families. Oh, and yes, you also need to pack your stuff. I have prepared an extensive guide for packing specifically catered to students moving to the UK. You can find that guide here.

What next?

Now, it is important for you to understand that there is a timeline that you should follow when you are applying to the UK universities. If you do not give yourself enough time to prepare the documents, give the IELTS, and other important things, you might end up messing up at some crucial stage. I have written a detailed article on What is the ideal timeline to apply to UK universities? Read it to understand by what time you should be ready with your documents.