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Short term (Study Abroad) students

Short term students

If you are a non-European Economic Area (EEA) national and will be studying at St Mary's for less than six months you can come to the UK as a Short Term Student.

The St Mary's courses where this applies:

  • If you are a study abroad student and are attending for one semester
  • If you are on a distance-learning Postgraduate Course that only requires attendance a few days a year
  • If you are an audit, associate, or short course student and your course participation is six months or less
  • If you are on a pre-sessional English course for no longer than six months and will not be going straight on to a full degree programme (as it is not possible to extend or change Short Term Study Visas whilst in the UK)

For additional information please see UKVI’s Short Term Study Visa page and the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

If you have any queries, please contact us: 

The information provided is up to date as of July 2015 but may be subject to policy changes. Please see the UKVI website for the latest updates and for additional information please see UKVI's Tier 4 policy guidance document and the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply?

Please see appendix two of this link to check if you are a citizen of one of the countries that requires a visa (this is known as a visa-national). If you do need a visa to enter the UK you will need to apply online for a Short Term Study Visa. You can apply for entry clearance as a Short Term Student from within any country outside the UK; you do not have to be in the country you normally live in order to make the application.

If you are a non-visa national you can either apply via the UKVI website before you get here, or at the airport when you arrive in the UK.

Prior to your departure, St Mary’s will issue a Short Term Student letter which you will need to bring with you in your hand luggage. You will need to present this letter to the Immigration Officer when you arrive.

Please note: if you are planning to go on any trips during the semester you will need to take this letter with you for re-entry into the UK.

I’m a non-visa national, what’s the difference between applying for a visa before I leave my country to applying for it at the airport?

The countries that many of our Study Abroad students come from where it is not necessary to apply for Short Term Study Visas beforehand include:

  • USA
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • South Korea
  • Canada

Advantages of applying for the Short Term Study Visa in advance are as follows:

The Entry Clearance sticker allows for multiple entry. This means you can leave and re-enter the UK using the same Short Term Study Visa. If you apply at the airport, you will be granted permission for one entry only (this will be an ink stamp) and when you leave the UK, the visa 'cancels' and you need to present documents again the next time you enter the UK.

When you arrive at the UK with 'entry clearance' you already have permission to enter the UK. This means if you are refused entry you have a right to appeal against the decision. It also ensures that you enter the UK in the correct immigration category.

If you apply for your Short Term Study Visa at the border you must present your St Mary’s offer letter to the immigration officer who will stamp your visa into your passport.

It is very important that you are stamped in as a Short Term Student, rather than a General Visitor. If you leave the UK to travel during the semester you must keep your offer letter with you so that you can re-enter as a Short Term Student.

Can I travel to the UK via Ireland

The UK has a Common Travel Area agreement with Ireland which means there are no immigration controls between the two countries. This means if you enter the UK via Ireland you cannot get a Short Term Student Stamp.

Your length of stay in the UK will only be three months (rather than six) and you will not be able to extend your stay in the UK. If you will be studying at St Mary’s for longer than three months, during your time here you will need to leave the UK and be stamped in on your return as a Short Term Student.

It is advised that if you will be coming to the UK via Ireland you apply for Entry Clearance (visa sticker in passport) in your home country before coming to the UK. Details on how to do this are listed above.

I’m trying to make my Short Term Study Visa application online, which visa type do I select?

After you have registered on the visa application site it will ask you to select a visa type. Please select the following options:

  • Reason for visit: Visit
  • Visa Type: Special Visitor
  • Visa Sub Type: Short Term Student, up to six months

What documents do I need to submit with my student visa application?

You will normally need:

  • An offer letter from St Mary’s that confirms you hold an unconditional offer with us
  • Proof that you have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK e.g. bank statements
  • A document that confirms you will leave the UK once you have finished studying, such as a return ticket
  • Your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you're applying from a country where you have to take the test
  • Additional information can be found on the UKVI website 

How much does a Short Term Study Visa cost?

The visa application fee is £89, there is no charge if you apply at the airport.

What does a Short Term Study Visa look like?

If you apply for a Short Term Study Visa overseas, you should receive a Short Term Study Visa vignette (sticker) in your passport.

If you apply for a Short Term Study Visa at the port of entry to the UK, the Immigration Officer will stamp your passport with a visitor visa stamp and should then handwrite 'VST' for Visiting Student, 'STS' for Short Term Student or ‘Six Months Short Term Student' on the stamp.

It is very important that the Immigration Officer indicates on your stamp that you are a student visitor. If they do not do this, you must ask them to write this on for you.

Will I need to show proof of my English ability?

No. Unlike the Tier 4 visa, there is no minimum English language ability requirement. However, you must meet the University's academic English language requirements.

I’m a Study Abroad student who will be attending for the whole year. Can I come to the UK as a Short Term Student?

No, if you are on the Study Abroad Programme for the full year you must apply for a Tier 4 visa. More information can be found on our Tier 4 webpages.

Can I work?

No. Work is not permitted if you are in the UK on a Short Term Study Visa; this includes work placements, service learning and paid or unpaid work.

Can I travel in and out of the UK?

If you have a Short Term Student vignette (sticker in your passport) you will be given multiple entry clearance which allows you to enter and leave the UK using the same visa during that six month period.

If you apply at the airport you will instead get an immigration stamp in your passport which will be valid for one entry. If you leave the UK you will need to present the documents listed above again to get a new stamp when you re-enter.

Can I extend my stay in the UK?

Short-term students are not allowed to apply to switch into any other immigration category while still in the UK. If you wish to continue studying in the UK after your immigration permission as a short-term student has come to an end, you will need to return home and apply for entry clearance as a Tier 4 student, or in another appropriate immigration category.