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The Ultimate Parent’s Guide to Studying in the UK

The Ultimate Parent’s Guide to Studying in the UK

For any young person, studying in the UK is an exciting opportunity. Going abroad, taking a risk and studying outside of their home country allows students to experience life in another culture and meet people from all over the world.

However, the reality of moving to a new country and enrolling in a foreign university or language school and embarking on an adventure in a completely new location can be intimidating, not only for the student but also for the parents.

Whether your child is going abroad for a short-term English Language course or pursuing higher education at a UK University or master’s program, we understand that parents are concerned about a variety of aspects. 

In this guide, we cover the benefits of studying in the UK, costs, visas, safety, healthcare and safety, and making the most of the experience.

The Ultimate Parent’s Guide to Studying in the UK was reviewed by expert Steve Scarll, Visa Advisor at Visto Inghilterra CAV, and aims to help parents and students put their minds at ease about going abroad to study in the UK.

How studying in the United Kingdom can benefit your child’s future

studying in the uk

A study program abroad not only looks good on a CV, but it is a valuable life lesson and cultural experience.

Having the U.K. so close to Italy is invaluable. Although sending your child to the USA or Canada is also beneficial, the costs and concerns are far fewer.  

Being immersed in the language and culture helps language skills but having to face daily tasks like going to the grocery store, getting the bus or explaining a dissertation in a new language are challenges that your child will not meet in a classroom back home.

The United Kingdom is renowned for its reputable institutions and universities. The quality level of education in Great Britain is regulated, with minimum required standards that are quite high when compared to the rest of the world.

British universities place a high value on preparing students for employment immediately after graduation. Many university programs offer students hands-on practice and work experience. A UK student visa allows university students to work part-time. Work is not permitted for students going to the UK for language studies. Language courses lasting less than 6 months do not require a visa (unless you are a non-EU citizen). However, an 11-month English language visa is available but excludes any form of work.

Because the United Kingdom is an international business and cultural hub, it provides excellent opportunities for international networking. Your child will have the opportunity to meet other students creating friendships and connections that will last a lifetime. Their classmates today are the CEOs of tomorrow.

There is no doubt that international education, exposure, and work experience all help to develop a wide range of personal and interpersonal skills, such as independence, critical thinking, adaptation, better communication, and cultural awareness. These qualities make a candidate attractive to employers in any field.

Choosing a language school or university for study in the UK

Today, all schools have websites with details of their services and many offer testimonials, but nothing beats word of mouth and hearing about the school from a graduate.  When possible, contact someone who has been to the school. A firsthand account of the study experience is invaluable.

“How to choose a language school or university in the UK” would be an entire guide on its own, so we would like you to consider the following before applying.

  • Does the school/university provide you with the appropriate course options and flexibility?
  • What is student satisfaction and feedback?
  • How are the teaching standards?
  • What is its place in the UK and International ranking charts by independent ranking organisations?
  • What is their success rate? What percentage of students find employment?
  • Is there an on-campus counselor for foreign students?
  • What amenities are available? Are there libraries, lecture halls, and study areas?
  • Are extracurricular activities available, such as excursions and cultural experiences, student unions, societies, and sports teams?
  • Is the location suitable for your child? Would they feel more comfortable in a small town or big city?
  • Is the university located on campus, or is it spread out across a city?
  • Will the campus be easy to reach from their accommodation?
  • What are the course fees? Are the lodging costs included?
  • Will the school/university help you find accommodation or a host family?

Getting a Student Visa

student visa for UK

Steve Scarll, Visa Advisor at Visto Inghilterra CAV

To study in the UK, your child will need to apply for a student visa unless, of course, he or she has a valid British passport.

Students must have a passport to apply for a visa to the UK.

If your child does not yet have a passport be sure to apply and have the new passport ready at least three months before applying for the UK visa.

Be sure that your child’s passport does not expire while he or she is in the UK. It is possible to renew their passport at their local embassy or consulate, but it is inconvenient and can take longer than expected, creating unexpected problems and expenses.

Visa applications for studying in the UK are available on the British Government website and can take hours to complete. A small error can be the difference between having a visa approved or being denied. Fill out each section of the form correctly. Read the instructions carefully, there is a lot of legal jargon to wade through, and the rules change year to year.

Visto Inghilterra CAV (Centro Assistenza Visa) assists and facilitates students in completing the complicated applications and forms for visas to England. They offer personalized advice on a case-by-case basis and save you the time and frustration that comes along with the visa application process.

Visto Inghilterra CAV also has an easy-to-use app and desktop application to help with the complicated electronic identification process of scanning your passport and facial features required by the UK Student Visa application.

Read more about Visto Inghilterra CAV Visa application assistance here.

Costs of Studying in the UK

Most students studying in the UK go for two reasons: language studies or higher education. Both are immensely valuable experiences but, for obvious reasons, incur different costs.

Cost of Learning English in the UK

Learning English at a specialized language center in the UK costs around €650 per week, including daily English lessons, host family accommodation, and a meal plan. Costs for an intensive language course, a business English course, or an IELTS preparation course are closer to €700 or €750 per week.
In addition to the course fee, you should budget for transportation to the UK, visa application fees, as well as spending money for bus fares, snacks, activities and excursions.

Cost of University and Master Programs in the UK

As a result of Brexit, students from the European Union who wish to study in the UK will no longer be eligible for home fee status or undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England. Source

Tuition fees in the United Kingdom are frequently a source of debate. The Times Higher Education International and Postgraduate Fee Survey reports that undergraduate tuition fees for non-Uk citizens range widely. Humanities and social sciences degrees are the least expensive. Laboratory and clinical degree programs are significantly more costly, beginning around £10,000 (€12,000) and up to £38,000 (€45,600) or more for medical degrees.

The cost of living for one year in the UK

Tuition is not the only concern for students as accommodation, entertainment and daily transport need to be factored in. The cost of living for one year in the UK is estimated at around £12,200 (€15,000) per year.

The UK Government website states:

You’ll need to show you have enough money to support yourself – unless you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months on the date of your application.

How much money you need depends on where you will be studying. You’ll need either:

  • £1,334 per month plus the cost of the first year’s tuition for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month plus the cost of the first year’s tuition for courses outside London

If you’re boarding at an independent residential school, you’ll need to pay boarding fees instead. The amount you need to pay will be on your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies).

London means the City of London and the 32 London boroughs.Source

Once added up, these costs may appear daunting, but in comparison to sending your child to the United States, where the annual list price to attend an American university on a full-time program is about $67,694 (€48,730) for tuition only, not including accommodation, books entertainment and other living expenses, the UK University fees are very affordable.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that most UK universities offer, on average three-year programs for undergraduate degrees (rather than four) and one year for a master’s degree (rather than two).  

Health Care & Safety in the UK

Young people studying

NHS Health Care

The National Healthcare System (NHS) in the United Kingdom provides free access to complete healthcare and subsidized dental and prescription coverage to UK residents.

During the UK Student Visa application process, you may need to pay a charge for healthcare services, called the ‘immigration health surcharge (IHS).’ This is the NHS surcharge to cover healthcare costs while in the UK. This is non-negotiable and must be completed prior to relocating abroad.

Students staying less than 6 months from the European Union should have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles them to free NHS treatment. Non-EU students studying on courses of less than 6 months are not eligible for free NHS treatment and must have private health insurance.


The main concern for many parents is their child’s safety. Of course, as in any country, some areas are safer than others, but the UK is generally regarded as a safe place to live and study.

Teaching your children to use public transportation, being aware of their surroundings and knowing when to ask for help are lessons that all young adults should learn before going to a new country.

It is important to remind your child

  • Stay with others when going out in the evenings.
  • Always have your phone charged before going out.
  • Keep handy the number of a friend or taxi you can call if needed.
  • Care for personal belongings and essential items like keys and phones.
  • Save copies of id, student cards, passport, and other important documents on a cloud server in case of loss.
  • Memorize emergency numbers; 999 (for police, fire, or ambulance) and 101 (to report an accident or non-emergency).

Making the most of a UK study experience

Stonehenge tourism UK

Every parent hopes that studying in the UK will be an enriching, cultural experience that will transform their child’s life. Naturally, you will want to encourage them to see the sights, museums and submerse themselves in British culture and history, but the best thing a parent can do is take a step back and let them flap their proverbial wings.

Some things your child might want to try to do and see while in the UK

Use the weekends to explore while you study in the UK

  • Visit London – all of it!
  • Take a black taxi in London
  • Learn about the British Monarchy its unique heritage; its history is everywhere, from buildings to sport to everyday colloquial expressions.
  • Visit the British countryside and drink a lager at a local pub
  • Visit a castle – there are so many!
  • Celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge
  • Delve into Shakespeare; after all, you are in the heartland
  • Try to learn the regional accents and idioms
  • Go to Glastonbury or one of the UK’s many other music festivals
  • Participate in a sports event; climb the 4 Peaks, run a half marathon, row in a race or join a football club

You can’t live the UK experience without trying these dishes

  • Afternoon tea.
  • Fish and Chips.
  • Bangers and Mash.
  • Full English Breakfast.
  • Sunday Roast.
  • Toad in the Hole.
  • Shepherd’s Pie/Cottage Pie.
  • Steak and Kidney Pie.

There is no doubt that the experience of studying in the UK will be an enriching opportunity and a life-changing event for your child. The best advice we can offer parents is to help your child be prepared by getting documents, visas and expenditures ready, preparing them for independent living and encouraging them to enjoy it.

Article by Celia Abernethy, Easy Milano

Expert review by Steve Scarll, Visa Advisor, Visto Inghilterra CAV
OISC and British Council qualified

Easy Milano

Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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