London – studying in London

London is a very dynamic city. Every year thousands of new students from all over the world come to study there.

Studying in London

London is one of the world’s most popular, highly rated and beloved capitals, so it is not surprising that over 450,000 students choose to study in one of  London’s 40 universities. And you could join them and enjoy all the benefits of a top-class education at a world-renowned institution, while living in an amazing, stunning and multicultural city!

Why choose to apply to study at a university in London?

If you are thinking of applying to study in London, then you will have noticed the enormous range of courses on offer, many of which you will be unable to find in your own country.

As a result, you will be able to track down precisely what you are interested in studying and combine subjects according to your personal interests and career objectives, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

London is home to many specialised universities which offer bachelor’s and master’s qualifications, for example:

  • The Royal Academy of Music
  • The Royal College of Nursing
  • The Royal Veterinary College
  • The University of Law
  • The British School of Osteopathy
  • Courtauld Institute of Art
  • The Royal Academy of Dance
  • Central School of Speech and drama
  • National Centre for Circus Arts, one of the rare institutions which offers a BA in this field
  • London Business School
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • The University of the Arts, London (UAL),ranked second in the world for art and design, etc, etc

If you know what you wish to study in London, you will be able to find it, and if you are tossing up between two or three options, then why not contact us here at Elab?

We can offer you information and guidance and put you in touch with students who have taken this path before you. They can share their experiences and views with you, and give you an inside track on what it is really like to study in London at the university you  are considering, and give you the lowdown on the course and what to expect.

The requirements

Language requirements

Remember, London is the first choice destination for students from all over the globe and many of the universities are highly competitive as a result. If you want to study in London, one of the first requirements is proving your language proficiency, both to the university admissions board and the British immigration officials who will issue your student visa.

IELTS is the most commonly requested certificate, and you need to ensure that you gain an overall score of 6-7.5, depending on the course and the university you apply to. Elab can provide you with up to date information on IELTS scores, the IELTS exam itself and the help we can offer to prepare you to sit this important language test.

Getting a visa

The UK has left the EU. As a result, unless you have already applied for pre-settlement status, you will need to get a student Tier 4 visa before you can start studying in London. The process is simple and can be done on your smartphone. You will need:

  • to provide a copy of your passport
  • to demonstrate you can support yourself financially
  • an unconditional offer from a university
  • to confirm that you can speak, write and understand English (for example, by uploading an IELTS certificate)
  • to pay an application fee of £348 (at the time of writing)
  • to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge ( IHS) a £1035 per year, which will cover the cost of using the National Health Service and allows you to use doctors, dentists and hospitals. The IHS forms part of your student visa application – even if you already have private health insurance. This surcharge fee is an annual one, so if you are intending to study for three years, you will need to pay £1035X3= £3105

Studying in London - which are the highest rated universities?

Rated five in the world, Imperial College is a prestigious university which specialises in science, technology and  engineering and has a large medical faculty and a well-respected business school. Imperial favours an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, and boast 29 Nobel  laureates.

UCL is ranked 9th in the QS rankings of world universities 2025,and offers a broad range of courses in many disciplines. Some 48 per cent of the student body is made up of international students.

The London School of Economics (LSE) has 200 research centres and , as a global leader in the social sciences, regularly hosts many international leaders and guest speakers. It is outstanding in anthropology, politics, law and accounting.

Queen Mary’s was founded in 1785, when four medical institutions merged to create what is now Queen Mary college. Located in fashionable Shoreditch, in the east of London, the university specialises in medicine and dentistry, which are taught at Bart’s Hospital  and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Royal Holloway is situated 50 minutes away from the centre of London, and would therefore appeal to people looking for a slightly calmer and more rural place to study in London. Ranked 14th in the world for performing arts, it is known for its research-intensive teaching and learning across the arts and humanities. The campus is rated as one of the most beautiful in the world, and was officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1886.

Birkbeck is the only university where you can take evening classes and study part- time, which provides students with great flexibility in organising their lives.

The School of African and Oriental Studies focusses on the language and culture of Africa, Asia and the Near and Middle East, across a range of 350 degree courses. 52 per cent of the student body are international students.

City University is home of the renowned Bayes (formerly Cass)Business School, City Law School and School of Sciences.

Brunel specialises in engineering and design.

Which institutions make up the Federal University of London?

All of the above, as well as Goldsmith’s and St George’s Universities.

Do any UK universities have branches in London?

Yes. The following universities have branches in the capital:

  • Anglia Ruskin
  • Coventry
  • Loughborough
  • Northumbria
  • Warwick Business School
  • York, St John’s

Can I work on a student visa when I am studying in London?

Yes, if you get a Tier 4 student visa, you are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week during term time, and full-time during holidays. It is important to remember that your potential earnings can’t be taken into account when you are applying for a visa and showing that you will be able to cover the cost of studying in London.

There are a number of work restrictions you have to bear in mind on  a student visa:

  • you must not be self-employed
  • you can’t work as an entertainer or a sportsperson ( a trainer etc.)
  • you can’t take a permanent, full-time job
  • you must not engage in any form of business activity
  • there is a difference between doing volunteer work (for which you do not get paid and where you do not have regular hours or tasks) and doing paid voluntary work. If you do voluntary work, you can only work for 20 hours a week, and full-time during the holidays.

What is the difference between the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage? Which can I expect to be paid when I am studying and working in London?

The National Minimum Wage rises every April and is currently £8.60 (2023) per hour. It is paid to people aged between 18 and 20.

If you are 25 or older, you will receive the National Living Wage, which is £11.44 per hour at the moment, and normally goes up in April.

Will I have to pay tax on my wages?

You will not have to pay tax on your earnings as long as you do not exceed your personal tax allowance, which is  currently £12,500 a year.

Given the fact that you can’t work full-time  for the majority of the time you are studying in London, and that you are most probably going to be paid the minimum wage when you do take a part-time job, it is not very likely that you will earn above the tax threshold.

Studying in London - how can I find a job?

Your student union noticeboard, word of mouth, employment agencies and the small ads are all excellent sources of jobs. Before you start studying in London, make sure you create a CV which you can pass around to the local retailers and leisure centres, and post online. It does not have to be long or complex, so aim for one A4 page.

Is studying in London expensive?

This is a difficult question to answer, since so much depends on your preferences and lifestyle.

If you want to live slap bang in the middle of central London, a stone’s throw from your campus, dine out regularly, move around in Ubers and black cabs,  buy all your booklist , dress in exclusive boutiques and have a lively social life then yes, studying in London can be pricey.

Most people who come to study in London are cost-conscious and decide to live in shared accommodation or in halls, cook the majority of their meals, buy second-hand books or borrow them from the university library, and dress in high street shops.

According to the LSE, students need between £1100 and £1500 a month to study   in London. Here is breakdown of average prices:

  • accommodation -studio: £120-£1000 a week; halls of residence £150-£375 a week, depending on whether you want a single room and breakfast and dinner provided; room in shared house:£780 a month.
  • utilities: water, gas, electricity:£80 a month.
  • mobile phone contract:£10-60 a month
  • books: £40 a month
  • travel: approximately £110 a month for using the entire London transport network, including the underground, trains, buses and trams. Remember that London is divided into 6 zones, with zone 1 being the centre, and zone 6 the periphery, so the cost of travel depends on where you decide to live. Everyone who has enrolled in higher education is entitled to buy a student Oyster card, which will give you a 30 per cent discount on normal fares.
  • pub meal: £10-£12
  • restaurant meal: £16-£35
  • food: £90 a month
  • miscellaneous expenses, for example dry cleaning, clothes , shoes etc £70 a month
  • cinema ticket: £10-15
  • gym membership: £25-£80 a month

Once you have been accepted onto your course, you are automatically entitled to apply for your NUS (National Union of Students) card, which will be very useful for getting discounts at restaurants, galleries, on  buying tech products, travel, museums, media etc. Always check that the retailer offers student discounts before you pay!

Studying in London - the adventure of a lifetime!

Many of you reading this blog will already have visited London and decided to study in London because you fell in love with this city. Even if you have never been to the UK, you will have seen pictures of iconic landmarks such as Big Ben, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, the Tower of London, Camden Market, Trafalgar Square and our famous red buses and black taxis, cruising up the shopping mecca which is Oxford Street.

London is the home of cutting edge fashion, the largest concentration of museums and galleries in the western world, historical buildings, traditions and a sense of fun, as well as gravitas. And this is why it acts as a magnet to students from all over the globe, creating a multicultural, diverse cosmopolitan atmosphere which welcomes everybody.

Studying in London will be exciting, demanding and unforgettable. In the process you will benefit from excellent teaching, rich resources and state of the art materials. 

Study in London!

Leave your details and an Elab Education Consultant will contact you within 48 hours to turn your academic aspirations into reality.