We are a stakeholder in the Education Sector Forum chaired by the Home Office. The Education Sector Policy Forum is the principle forum for discussions between Government and representatives of the UK education sector on the existing and future policy for international students within the immigration system

Our Student visas page on the Study UK website helps international students plan for their stay in the UK.

The latest policy guidance and visa application links are available from the UKVI website.  

You can find all the publications mentioned on this page in the download section below.

Visas and immigration

The British Council works closely with the UK Visas and Immigration, the Home Office, UKCISA, the National Union of Students and other sponsors and partners. We are a stakeholder in the Education Sector Policy Forum and also a member of the Home Office Operational Group.

Immigration, pre-departure & orientation 

We aim to help all international students have a positive experience in the UK. We do this by giving them guidance on preparing for a visa, preparing for coming to the UK and settling in safely once they arrive. For full details of our work in this area, please see the following web pages:

Study UK: Preparation for Study in the UK 

British Council: Preparation for Study in the UK

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange schemes

If international students are coming to the end of their studies in the UK, they might be considering the possibility of staying on in the UK to work.

In most cases, they cannot switch into this immigration category from within the UK. Instead, they need to leave the UK and apply for entry clearance. The only, very limited, exception is for those who apply under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) in order to undertake professional training or, since 1 October 2013, an internship.

As an exception to the usual rules for this category, they can make an application to stay in the UK under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) if they meet all the following requirements:

  • They have student leave (Tier 4 (General) leave or leave under one of the student-related categories that preceded the introduction of Tier 4).
  • They have obtained a UK recognised degree during their most recent grant of leave.
  • They are being sponsored under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) either to undertake a period of postgraduate professional training or work experience which is required to obtain a professional qualification or professional registration in the same field as their UK qualification or they are being sponsored for up to 12 months to undertake an internship which directly relates to their UK qualification.
  • Their employer does not intend to employ them in the UK once their training or work experience for which they are being sponsored has ended.

Student pre-departure briefings

The British Council hold pre-departure briefings in many countries. These provide students advice on getting a visa and settling in to life in the UK.

Safety in the UK

The British Council has information about crime trends, legislation and other safety issues to inform international students, their dependents and visitors to the UK. We carry out international student safety surveys and interviews with police and door supervisors (see below).

We have also created a collection of student safety guides, which you can download from pre-departure page on the Study You website. UK institutions are invited to download and share our StudyUK poster promoting these safety guides, listed below.

External links