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Information for international students wishing to study at a university in the UK

The English language requirements for international students wishing to study in the UK vary depending on the level of course you're applying for and where in the world you're applying from. See the table below to find out more, or see the summary of what's required underneath. 

Where are you applying from?Visa required? Exams accepted
The EU, EEA or Switzerland No

You must meet the English language requirements of the institution you apply to. Most UK universities accept Cambridge English: Advanced and Cambridge English: Proficiency for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. 

Cambridge English: First is also accepted for many foundation and pathway courses. 

Outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, studying at below degree level Yes

You must take a recognised B1 level Secure English Language Test (SELT). We recommend IELTS for UKVI. You will need to obtain a band score of 4.0 overall and in all four skills.

Outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, studying at degree level or higher Yes

You do not need to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT), but you must achieve a minimum B2 level of English and meet the English language requirements of the institution you apply to*. 

Most UK universities accept Cambridge English: Advanced and Cambridge English: Proficiency.

A country where English is spoken as an official language. Maybe - contact UKVI to confirm

You do not need to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT), but the institution you apply to may still ask you to meet its English language requirements - check with them to confirm. 

Most UK universities accept Cambridge English: Advanced and Cambridge English: Proficiency.

* This applies to institutions on the Tier 4 Register of Sponsors. Nearly all UK universities are on this list – check if yours is here. If it isn't, you will need to take a SELT 


Summary

If you require a visa in order to study in the UK, the English language requirements will depend on the level of course you are looking to study. 

  • If you are applying for a course at below degree level (e.g. foundation and pathway courses), you will be required to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT), such as IELTS for UKVI as part of your visa application.  

  • If you are applying for degree-level study or higher (e.g. undergraduate and postgraduate courses) at an institution that is on a Tier 4 register of sponsors you may not need to take a SELT. This is because these institutions set their own English language requirements.

    Nearly all UK universities are on this list and most of them (including the Russell group institutions) accept Cambridge English: Advanced and Cambridge English: Proficiency for entrance purposes.

    If your institution is not on the register of sponsors list, you will need to take a SELT. 

If you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland you will not need a visa to study and you won’t need to take a SELT. You will need to meet the English language requirements of the institution you are applying to. Most universities accept Cambridge English: Advanced and Cambridge English: Proficiency for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Cambridge English: First is also accepted for many foundation and pathway programmes.


Find out more

You can find more information on the UK university applications section of our website.

Check the UK Visas and Immigration website for the latest information and requirements. 

See which Cambridge English exams your chosen UK university accepts on our global recognition page

If you are at all unsure about which exam to take, please check directly with your chosen institution and/or the UKVI to confirm which exam/s they will accept as part of your application.

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