Short term student visa

The short term student visa is for students who are studying for short periods of time at a Tier 4 institution.

Who can get a short term student visa?

You can come to the UK as a short term student if:

  • You are coming to study credit bearing courses which will contribute to a degree level programme in your home institution, and you will spend no more than six months in the UK
  • You are coming to do a period of research, or research training, lasting no more than six months, which will contribute to a research degree in your home institution
  • You need to return to the University to undergo a resit or viva exam, and will leave the UK within six months
  • You will undertake a medical or veterinary medical elective
  • You are studying an official distance learning programme and need to undertake study activity on-campus
    • Individual periods of study cannot last more than six months
    • Part-time degrees are not considered to be official distance learning programmes
  • You are studying an English language programme which is no more than 11 months in duration
  • You are studying a short course at the Centre for Open Learning

What are the conditions of a short term student visa?

If you enter UK as a short term student, you cannot:

  • Work – paid or unpaid
    • You can volunteer for a registered charity, but you must not do voluntary work (e.g. have a contract with your employer or receive payment in kind)
  • Undertake a paid or unpaid work placement (except medical and veterinary medical electives), even if this is part of your studies 
    • This includes the Edinburgh Parliamentary Programme
  • Extend your visa in the UK for more studies, or apply for other visas from within the UK
  • Bring dependants

If you might wish to be able to do any of these activities, then you must make an application for a Tier 4 General student visa.

You must:

  • Leave the UK within 30 days of the end of the period of studies, or before your permission expires (whichever is the earlier date).

How do I apply for a short term student visa?

How you apply depends on whether you are a visa national, or a non-visa national.

Visa nationals

This means that you are a national of a country which is required to apply for permission to come to the UK before you can travel. 

You can find a list of these countries on the UK Government website:

Visa nationals country list

You must apply for and receive a short term student visa before you travel to the UK.

You can find the application form on the Visa4UK website: 

Visa4UK - online form

You will also need to provide:

  • The visa fee payment;
  • Your original offer letter;
  • Information about your accommodation arrangements, and;
  • Original financial documentation which shows how you intend to fund your studies

You can find detailed information on the required documents in our Short-term Study Visa Checklist.

Non-visa nationals

This means that you are a citizen of a country which does not need to apply for a visa for a short visit (up to six months) before travelling to the UK.

You will need to show:

  • Your original offer letter
  • Financial evidence to show that you can support yourself and pay for your studies
  • Evidence that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your studies

More information about this can be found in our Short-term Study Visa Checklist.

You will get a stamp in your passport which will be valid for six months.

Travel through the Republic of Ireland

You must enter the UK via a UK port of entry, for example, Edinburgh or Heathrow airport. You cannot travel via the Republic of Ireland, as you will not meet with UK immigration control, and you will not get permission to study in the UK.

If you want to come to the UK for up to 11 months to study an English language course, you must apply for a visa before travelling to the UK.

More useful links

UK Visas & Immigration