Studying in the United Kingdom (UK) can be a great opportunity for Nigerian students to gain a world-class education and valuable experience in a first-world culture. The number of international student applications to universities in the UK originating from Nigeria has been on the rise in recent years. You too will soon discover that the process for pursuing your dream to study in the UK from Nigeria is not as complicated as you may have thought. All you need is to get familiar with the requirements and procedures. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know to successfully apply and study in the UK as an Nigerian student.
Decide on a Course to Study in the UK
The first step in applying to study in the UK is to choose a course and university that best suits your interests and career goals. There are two approaches you may adopt in this first step.
- You can use online resources such as UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service): The UCAS website is the official website for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in the United Kingdom. It is the central application portal for undergraduate degree courses at UK universities and colleges. Students can use the UCAS website to search for courses, apply to universities and colleges, track their applications, and receive offers of places. The website also provides information on entry requirements, fees, and scholarships, as well as advice on the application process and student life in the UK. The UCAS website is an essential resource for any student looking to apply for undergraduate study at a UK university or college.
- Individual university websites to research courses and admission requirements: On the website of universities, you can search for courses offered by the specific university and find detailed information on admission requirements. Guidelines on the application process are also provided for intending students.
As you research to find a fitting university for your goals, an important factor to bear in mind is the level of funding available to you to sponsor your studies. If your sponsor has a deep pocket, or you think your academic history gives you a fighting chance for a scholarship, I have curated here, ten UK universities that are popular destinations for Nigerian students of means:
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- University College London
- King’s College London
- University of WarwSick
- University of Manchester
- University of Bristol
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Glasgow
It’s important to note that admission into these universities is highly competitive, and that there are many other excellent universities in the UK that may also be a good fit for Nigerian students seeking more affordable tuition. Here are ten of such UK universities:
- Anglia Ruskin University
- University of Bedfordshire
- University of Bolton
- Coventry University
- Glyndwr University
- University of Hertfordshire
- Leeds Beckett University
- Middlesex University
- University of Northampton
- University of South Wales
While these universities may have lower tuition fees compared to some of the more prestigious universities in the UK, admission to these universities is still competitive, and admission requirements and processes may differ for different courses and faculties within these universities. You should thoroughly research each university and programme before applying.
Check the Entry Requirements to Ensure You Meetup
Before applying, it is important to check the entry requirements for the course and university you are interested in. Most UK universities require international students to have a minimum level of English proficiency, which can be demonstrated through tests such as IELTS or TOEFL.
While both the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are accepted by universities in the UK, the IELTS is more commonly requested. This is because the IELTS is the most widely recognized English language test in the UK and is accepted by all universities and colleges as evidence of English proficiency for admission purposes.
Additionally, the IELTS is the preferred test for immigration and visa purposes in the UK. This means that many international students who plan to study in the UK for an extended period of time will need to take the IELTS exam to meet visa requirements.
However, it’s always important to check the specific requirements of the university or program you are interested in, as some may accept both tests, or have additional language proficiency requirements.
You may also need to provide transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement as part of your application.
Apply to the Universities that Interest You
Once you have chosen a course and found suitable universities where you meet the entry requirements, you can begin the application process. As earlier stated, most universities in the UK use UCAS for undergraduate applications. Postgraduate applications, on the other hand, are typically made directly to the university. Once you’ve completed your application, you’ll need to submit it on or before the relevant deadline. It’s important to note that late applications may not be considered, so make sure to check the deadlines carefully and give yourself enough time to complete your application.
If you’re applying through UCAS, you’ll need to submit your application by the January deadline for most courses. Some courses and universities may have later deadlines, be careful to check the UCAS website for the latest information.
If you’re applying directly to a university, the deadline may vary depending on the course and university. Look through the university website for their application deadline or contact their admissions office to confirm the deadline.
After you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to wait for a response from the university. This can take several weeks or months, depending on the course and university.
If your application comes out successful, you’ll receive an offer from the university. This offer may be conditional or unconditional. A conditional offer means that you’ll need to meet certain conditions, such as achieving a certain grade in your exams, before the offer can be confirmed. An unconditional offer means that you’ve already met all the requirements and can begin the course without any further conditions.
If you receive multiple offers from different universities, you’ll need to decide which one to accept. You can only accept one offer through UCAS, so make sure to carefully consider your options before making a decision.
Search for Scholarships and Apply (optional)
If you don’t have the financial resources to fund your study in the UK, don’t worry too much! There are several scholarship opportunities available to Nigerian students who wish to study in the UK. Below are steps you may take to apply for a scholarship to study in the UK as a Nigerian student. Note that most organizations require you to already have an offer from a university before you can apply to them for scholarship.
1. Research scholarship opportunities for their requirements
The first step is to research the available scholarship opportunities for Nigerian students who wish to study in the UK. There are several scholarship providers for both undergraduate and graduate programmes. I have curated a list of some of them for your convenience:
- Chevening Scholarships
- Commonwealth Scholarships
- Gates Cambridge Scholarships
- Rhodes Scholarships
- Erasmus Mundus Scholarships
- Marshall Scholarships
- Fulbright Scholarships
- Clarendon Fund Scholarships
- Beit Trust Scholarships
- Felix Scholarships
- Royal Society Grants
- Wellcome Trust Fellowships
- Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Programme
- Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships
- Oxford Pershing Square Scholarship
- Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship
- Queen Mary Global Excellence Scholarship
- University of Bristol Think Big Scholarships
- University of Warwick Chancellor’s International Scholarships
- University of Sussex Chancellor’s International Scholarships
2. Prepare the documents for your application.
Once you have identified the scholarship opportunities that you are eligible for, it is time to prepare your application. The application requirements may vary depending on the scholarship provider. However, in general, you will need to provide the following documents:
An academic transcript:
This should detail your academic performance to date, including your grades and any relevant qualifications.
This should outline your motivations for wanting to study in the UK and why you are a suitable candidate for the scholarship.
You may need to provide references from teachers, lecturers, or employers, depending on the scholarship provider’s requirements.
English language proficiency:
You will need to demonstrate your proficiency in the English language, either through the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
3. Apply for all scholarships you meet the entry requirements for.
You can then proceed to apply for all the scholarships whose requirements you meet. You should carefully follow the scholarship provider’s application guidelines and submit all the required documents before the deadline.
4. Attend interviews or write assessment tests.
Some scholarship providers may require you to attend an interview or write a test at an assessment centre. It is essential to prepare for these interviews and tests by researching the scholarship provider and the university you have applied to.
5. Wait for the scholarship outcome.
After submitting your scholarship application, you have done all you can do from your end. You will then need to wait for the scholarship application outcome. If successful, you will receive a scholarship award letter outlining the scholarship’s terms and conditions.
Apply for a Student Visa to Study in the UK
Once you’ve accepted an offer from a university, you’ll need to apply for a student visa to study in the UK before you can travel. Following are the steps for the UK Visa application process:
Check the visa requirements
Before you apply for a student visa, check the UK visa requirements and ensure you meet all of them. The requirements usually include proof of acceptance into a UK institution, proof of sufficient funds to cover your living expenses or proof of scholarship/grant, and proof of English language proficiency.
Once you have confirmed that you meet the requirements, you can begin your visa application online on the UK government’s visa application website.
Create an account.
To apply for a student visa, you will need to create an account on the UK visa application website. This will allow you to fill out the application form, pay the application fee, and book an appointment at a visa application center.
Fill out the application form.
The application form will require you to provide personal information, details about your study plans in the UK, and information about your financial situation. Make sure you provide accurate information and answer all questions truthfully.
Pay the application fee.
The application fee for a UK student visa is currently £363, but this can change, so make sure to check the current fee before you apply. You can pay the fee online using a debit or credit card.
Book an appointment.
Once you have completed the application form and paid the fee, you will need to book an appointment at a visa application center. You will need to bring your application documents with you to this appointment.
Attend your appointment.
At your appointment, you will need to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo), as well as any supporting documents required for your application. These documents may include your passport, proof of acceptance into a UK institution, financial documents or scholarship, and evidence of English language proficiency.
Wait for a decision.
After your appointment, your application will be processed, and you will be notified of the decision. Processing times can vary, so it’s important to apply well in advance of your planned travel date.
If your application is successful, you will receive a visa vignette in your passport, which will allow you to travel to the UK. Once you arrive in the UK, you will need to collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) within 10 days of arrival. This will allow you to study and live in the UK for the duration of your visa.
The application process can take several weeks or months, so make sure to apply well in advance of your intended start date.
Prepare for Your Arrival in the United Kingdom
Before you leave Nigeria, there are several things you’ll need to do to prepare for your arrival in the UK. This includes arranging accommodation, buying travel insurance, and planning your travel to the university.
You’ll also need to prepare for the academic and social aspects of studying in the UK. This may involve familiarizing yourself with the university’s policies and procedures, attending orientation events, and joining student clubs and societies.
Finally, you need to research the current climatic conditions in the UK. This will guide your selection of clothing to travel in.
Consider Work and Post-Study Options While You Study in the UK
Nigerian students who study in the UK have a range of work and post-study options available to them. These options are often influenced by the type of visa that the student holds and their academic qualifications.
Here are some of the work and post-study options for you as a Nigerian students studying in the UK:
Tier 4 student visa
If you are studying in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa, you can work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during holidays. However, you cannot work as a professional, sports person or coach, and you cannot be self-employed or work as a doctor or dentist in training.
Tier 2 (General) visa
After completing your studies, you may be eligible to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa, which allows you to work in the UK for up to five years in a skilled job. To be eligible, they must have an offer of employment from a UK employer and meet the relevant criteria.
Post-study work visa
From 2021, Nigerian students who graduate from a UK university with a valid Tier 4 student visa may be eligible for the new post-study work visa. This visa allows graduates to work in the UK for up to two years after their studies are completed, without needing a job offer.
In addition to these options, you may also choose to pursue further study in the UK or return to Nigeria to apply you newly acquired skills and knowledge in the local job market. It is important for you to research and understand the options available to you before making any decisions about your future.
Studying in the UK as a Nigerian student can be a great opportunity for personal and professional growth. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully apply and study in the UK, and make the most of your time there.
Aside the UK, the United States (US) is another popular destination for Nigerians seeking to study abroad. You can find a detailed discussion on the process here.