Postgraduate category

Did anyone see this article on the BBC website recently? Immigration is a hot topic in the UK at the moment, but there is definitely a negative climate around it. Many political parties are saying that the UK needs to reduce the number of people immigrating to the UK – and one way they are doing this is through UKVI being stricter on immigration and visa rules, which has already started having an impact on the number of overseas students coming to the UK to study.

The head of Cambridge University has complained about this situation, however, as he thinks it is short-term and short-sighted. He’s right, too. In the eyes of politicians, international students are an easy target to enforce cuts and reductions on: the UKVI interviews could get tougher, or they could suddenly change visa regulations to make it more difficult to apply. This will cause an obvious drop in the number of international students coming to the UK, and because those numbers decrease, the government can say that it is meeting its immigration targets, and that immigration is under control.

This strategy is not fair, as it is using international students as a means of avoiding the larger issue of immigration control. International students bring a great deal to the UK – both academically and monetarily, all of which should be of interest to political parties. International students contribute a great deal towards postgraduate research, for which the likes of Cambridge University, Oxford University, and Imperial College London are rightly world famous. These universities would not be consistently ranked as the best in the world without the contributions of their international students, and so to try to deny international students the opportunity to study in the UK for the sake of politicking will be very damaging.

Applying to a UK university is now definitely more difficult than it used to be, especially when it comes to visas. Regulations are tight and getting tighter, and knowing someone who can navigate the treacherous application seas is becoming more and more important. You shouldn’t let the current atmosphere put you off, though, as the UK still has so much to offer international students. What you need, however, is for someone to look at and help you with your university and visa applications. Making your application as perfect as possible is the best way to avoid these kind of issues – so get some help before you start.

If you have any questions about immigration or visas, let us know in the comment section, or send us an email.

How to apply for a student visa

May 26, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

 Applying for a UK student visa can be a tricky process, but here at ECA UK we want to help you make that process as easy as possible. So easy, in fact, that we’ve made a guide for you to follow – and we even have a sister company, ECA Legal, who are visa specialists. There is quite a lot to prepare for your application, so let’s get started, shall we?

Confirmation from your university or school

A student visa in the UK is called a Tier 4 Student Visa, and the most important thing you’ll need for your application is confirmation that you have been accepted to study on your course. This means that you’ll need to have received an ‘unconditional offer’. Once you’ve got this and accepted it, your university or school will send you a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is often a letter with your reference number, course details, and personal information, and you’ll need to keep it safe. Take a scanned copy when you receive it, just in case. You’ll need to enter the CAS reference number on your visa application, so make sure that you don’t lose it!

After you receive the CAS reference number, you will have 6 months to apply for your Tier 4 student visa – even though this seems like a long time, don’t sit on your hands and do nothing, as there are other documents you’ll require, and things you’ll need to do that could take a long time to prepare!

IELTS – special update

Before your university gives you a CAS, you will have to do an IELTS test to check your English. There is a new test especially for applying for a UK visa, so when you are looking for a test centre, make sure you choose one where you will do “IELTS for UKVI”, as this is the new name for the IELTS test for visa applications!

What is ‘maintenance’?

So you’ve done your IELTS and got your CAS – what’s next? The next step is all about money: tuition fees, and living costs – or ‘maintenance’. This can seem quite complicated, but as long as you work out everything you need, then you will be OK.

How much will you need? The answer to that question has two parts: you will need to have enough money to pay your course fees for the first year (minus any that you have already paid), and this amount will be stated on your CAS letter. You will also need to show that you have enough for living costs, or maintenance. This is more complicated to work out, as it depends where you are living. It’s best to ask for advice about this point, but in general if you are living inside London you need to show that you have £1,020 per month for up to 9 months (£9,180 in total). If you are living in Greater London or the rest of the UK, you need to show that you have £820 for up to 9 months (£7,390 in total). Again, as there are different factors and variables to consider, it is better if you check with a visa advisor to make sure.

So, how can you show it? In order to show that you have enough money for the course fees and maintenance, you will have to provide a bank statement that shows you have the required money in your account for at least 28 days before your application. For example, if you apply for your Tier 4 student visa on June 28th, you will need a bank statement that shows you have the correct amount of money in your account during the period of June 1st to June 28th. Ideally, you will show a bank statement from May to June 28th, as this will give you a stronger case, and the stronger your case is the better.

Where should I apply – and what else do I need?

You can apply for your Tier 4 student visa online, through the UK government website. If you prefer, you can ask a visa agent to do it for you; in the UK, visa agents need to be regulated by the government, so always check that they have an OISC license. Using a reputable agent will make things less complicated for you, as they will tell you which documents to prepare and how to prepare them. After you’ve applied, you will need to go to a British embassy, high commission, or consulate, which might be in your home country, or might be somewhere in the region, such as Abu Dhabi in the Middle East. When you go to the embassy, make sure you bring all the documents they request. You will also need to do a fingerprint scan, and have your photograph taken there, so you might have to wait for some time. However, once you have submitted all your documents, and you are confident that everything is ready, you shouldn’t have to wait too long.

How long does it take, and how much does it cost?

Different countries have different processing times, but it could take from a couple of weeks to a month to process your visa. Fees are always the same, as a Tier 4 student visa application costs £323.

What else is there?

There is also an interview stage that you will need to prepare for, called a ‘credibility interview’, which tests if you are a genuine student. Now, I’m sure that you are a genuine student, but the UK Home Office will still want to check themselves. The interview will usually be at the place you applied for your visa, so the UK embassy or consulate you went to originally. If that’s not possible, then you might be interviewed by phone, which isn’t always easy but you’ll need to be prepared.

There are a lot of different questions that you could be asked. In general, they will ask you about your study history, what you want to study in the UK, for how long, and also your finances – who will pay for your course, how much it is, and so on. They could even ask you for extra documents that aren’t mentioned in the visa application, so it would be a good idea if you speak to your agent first, so that you can get a better idea of what the interview will be about. You’ll also have the chance to practice with someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Not sure if you need a UK student visa? Click here to check on the UK government’s website!


When applying for university study in the UK, you need to be careful to get it right, but if you get a professional to help you, it could make quite a difference to your success, and your schedule. James Galloway explains.

With the application deadlines for many university courses fast approaching, it is time to act quickly to get your university applications out in time. For many courses you can apply online, but you can also find an agent or education consultant to help you by applying directly. Most universities will look at applications as they receive them, and not wait until after their deadlines, so applying soon will allow you to get a head-start in the application process.

There are many benefits to applying to universities soon, especially if you use an advisor or agent who can get the results and feedback for you quicker than using other methods by yourself. If you get accepted at your first choice universities, then you won’t have to spend the summer worrying about making other applications, and can think about other things such as accommodation, budgeting and, of course, applying for a visa. If you get a rejection, then you will be able to assess your application and perhaps reconsider a few things: are you aiming too high, for example, or do you need to change anything? Applying to your favoured universities soon will give you the chance to re-think, and perhaps tailor your personal statement again if you need to.

Of course, for international students coming to study in the UK, it is not just your university course that you need to think about, but also your visa. Applying for your university course soon will give you enough time to go through the visa application process, which can sometimes take a long time – especially if you’re not sure how to apply. You will need to supply original documents – such as bank statements – that have to be in the correct format. This can take longer than you expect to gather together, and even though your university will give you some help here, it will be much easier for you to get help from a visa and immigration adviser, who will tell you which documents to prepare and how to prepare them. Your visa advisor will manage the application process from the start to the finish, and all you will have to do is supply the documents – you won’t even have to fill in an application form. If you are applying in the UK, make sure that you choose a suitably qualified adviser who is regulated either by the OISC or as a solicitor. Using unregulated and unqualified people for legal advice can put you at risk, and without anyone to help you if it all goes wrong.

We all know that applications can be a confusing and troublesome business, but getting an early start before those deadlines get closer will help manage your stress levels over the summer, and give you time to relax and do far more exciting things. Asking an agent to help and advise you with your university applications is very convenient, and will turn what is sometimes a difficult process into a smooth and easy one. They will allow you to speed up these processes, and get the results you are looking for.

It’s essential for student life in the UK, but how easy is it for an international student to open an account? James Galloway ivestigates.









So you’ve got your offer from your dream university in the UK, you’ve checked in at your accommodation, and you’ve started making some friends. You know there’s something else you need to do, some kind of life administration work, but you can’t quite remember… But when the next time to go out comes around, and you need to run off to get some money to pay for dinner or pay for your round at the pub – that’s when you remember what you should have done: open a bank account.

The one thing which could stop you opening an account is the type and length of visa you have. With a student visitor visa, you may find it difficult, as banks require a ‘residence’ type visa of at least six months to open an account. This means that you need to be in the UK with a Tier 4 student visa if you will need a bank account.

Opening a bank account as an international student is not as difficult as you might think, as both the bank and your university want your life in the UK to be as easy and as convenient as possible. First of all, though, you need to choose which bank is right for you. There are a great many banks in the UK, and what we call ‘high street banks’, such as HSBC, NatWest, Santander, and Lloyds, will all have basic bank accounts that you can open. These will provide you with a debit card, which you can use to pay for things directly (it is different from a credit card, as the money will come out of your account automatically).

A basic account can be used to pay in and take out money, but you can’t use it to get credit – you’ll need a current account in order to get that. There are other types of account available which require you to have a minimum amount of money in the account when you open it, and these allow the bank to offer more services. Some banks offer student accounts, and might give you a free gift if you open one. You can speak with the bank staff about those accounts, but for an international student studying for a few years, a basic or current account is the easiest option.

Now comes the important part: actually opening the account. If you choose a basic account, you won’t have to deposit any money in your account to open it, but you will need to show your identity and some other documents when you go to the bank. You should check with your chosen bank before you go, but you will usually need to bring your passport with your student visa if you’re a non-EU student; if you’re from the EU, then you will need to bring you passport and your national photo ID card. You will need to show the bank some extra information, to confirm that you’re currently a student. Your university/college/school will provide you with a letter confirming your UK study details, or they will help you complete a “Letter of Introduction for UK Banking Facilities.” This will also be your proof of address, as the bank will send you a debit card, as well as bank statements, after you’ve completed the process.

That should be everything. Oh yes, remember to try to manage your money responsibly! The bank will actually help you do this, as you can check your account using an ATM (in the UK we sometimes call them ‘the hole in the wall’), as well as the regular bank statements you will receive. If you need assistance or advice with your bank account, you can speak to the bank, as they will be happy to help. Even the most basic bank account will let you do things like transfer money overseas, receive money from home, and also pay large amounts for your school fees or rent. Opening a bank account is definitely something you need to do when you arrive in the UK, and if you follow our advice, it should be a quick, easy, and convenient process.

Who can help with your academic English?

March 25, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Academic English and Proof Readers.

Academic English and essay writing can be difficult for many British students, so what chance does an international student have of doing well at university? James Galloway looks at the issue, and tells us how using a proofreading service can make all the difference to your grades.




We’ve all been there: it’s late at night, we’re staring at our computer, and we’re trying to work out just what those confusing academic guidelines mean for our essay. Should I indent those quotes? Should I even be quoting that part? Does this sentence make sense? Am I answering the question? All this goes through our minds, and as international students, trying to write essays in a foreign language is challenging enough, without having to think about writing it in academic English. Universities don’t always provide enough support for international students, either, so it’s difficult to find a solution that will help us improve our academic English, and keep our grades high.

There is one solution that is increasingly popular, and that is using a proof reader. A proof reader is someone who checks a document for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and can make sure that it reads smoothly. This can be really useful for international students worried about their academic English, and who are unsure if they are meeting their university’s guidelines. There are many companies out there who will help you with your essays, but if you’re not sure who to trust, or which company sounds reliable, then it’s best if you ask an academic counsellor, a consultant or agent, who knows where to find professional proofreaders and editors. You will pay by the hour, or by the number of words, and it is worth checking before you do agree to use their services, in case you have something like a long dissertation as that could become quite expensive!

Something that is really important for universities in the UK is the idea of ‘academic integrity’, or more simply, being honest about the work you’re submitting. The biggest issue is plagiarism, which in the UK is a form of cheating. Plagiarism is when you copy someone else’s work or ideas, and say they are your own. Quoting from someone is fine, but you always need to cite it, or say where it is from. Proof readers can help you with this, as university guidelines are quite strict about citation, and the format of your essay will usually need to be a certain way. The proof reader shouldn’t help you with the ideas themselves, however, as they need to be your own original ideas. Universities ultimately judge their students on the content of their work, so if you are an international student and you have strong, original ideas, but need some help expressing them in perfect English, then a proof reader is a great way to polish your essays.

A good proofreader will correct mistakes, but should also be able to advise you on your academic style of writing, on how to make your writing more powerful and effective, and highlight where your argument may not be supported well enough by facts or references. They should concentrate on taking your academic knowledge, and showing you how to express it better in academic English, without getting involved in the subject area.

Getting help with writing essays is great, but there are other companies online who will write your essays for you, and buying an essay online is a really bad idea in the UK. This is called academic misconduct, and you could fail a module or even a course if you get caught. Having something proofread is fine, as this will mean that only your mistakes get corrected, or the flow of the essay is changed so it is smoother. So try to remember, when you’re looking for help with your academic English, avoid paying someone to change your ideas, or to write your essays for you. Your course tutor and you agent will be able to give you advice, and will be able to help you improve your academic English in a way that is honest.

How to prepare for arrival in the UK – an international student’s guide.

By James Galloway

Coming to the UK as an international student is an exciting time: you’ll be making new friends, having new experiences, and learning new things every day. You’ll be starting a new life in the UK, and whether you’re coming to university or another place of study, that means there will be a lot to prepare. Let’s start with some basics.

It might seem obvious, but as an international student, you’ll need a valid passport, and you will need to have applied for and obtained a visa. You can apply for a visa yourself, but it’s often easier to ask an immigration advisor to help you with that, as they will know which documents you will need, and have a good understanding of the application process. If you do hire anyone to help with your visa, in the UK they must be registered with the OISC, which is part of the Home Office.

Students in the UK have their own halls of residence, but for international students at your place of study it might be different. Have you booked a place in a hall of residence? Have you arranged other accommodation? When can you check in? These are important questions you need to ask yourself. You will need to apply in advance, so make sure you take care of your accommodation as soon as possible.

As an international student, you will of course want to go out, go shopping, and buy things for your course. To do this you’ll need some cash – and making sure you have enough to cover your expenses for when you first arrive is an important thing to prepare. You can exchange currency at the airport, but the exchange rates there aren’t always favourable. The best idea is to either exchange it in your home country, or, if you think you can survive a few days, to research some good exchange rates at banks in the UK, which you can do online.

It’s one thing having money, and another thing being able to spend it: a budget, or at least setting limits on what you want to spend on living expenses, is also important. You don’t want to spend too much when you first arrive, but nor do you want to save everything and not go out and enjoy your new surroundings. So a balance needs to be reached, and having a limit on how much money you want to spend is a good idea.

You’ll also need to be ready for when you land in the UK. Whether you’re arriving at Heathrow or Gatwick, the first people that you’ll be talking to are Border Force, the officials at Passport Control. There usually won’t be a problem with them if your visa and passport are in order, but it will be a good idea to keep certain documents with you in your hand luggage, because a digital copy on your tablet or phone won’t be enough if you get asked!

Just in case you get asked, it will be a good idea to have copies of information on your course, for example your enrolment letter, and in certain cases you might need to show recent bank statements. This will be in only rare cases, as the bank statements show you will be able to pay for your course, or that you have a job in your home country that you plan on returning to. If you have been asked to show bank statements in your visa application, then you should have copies of those bank statements with you in your hand luggage.

Of course, you will also need to be ready to answer questions from Border Force when you arrive, such as why you’re coming to the UK, how long you plan to stay, and where you’ll be staying. These won’t be difficult questions, but you will need to answer them clearly – so try to be awake when you land! And definitely don’t forget that if you are coming with over €10,000 – or the equivalent – in cash, you will need to declare it when you arrive.

Investment in study

November 30, 2010 | Posted by ECA UK | Comments Off

Reasons for selecting a good university are as much as motives.  Some people used to say that the education is not everything and talent do not need diploma. Nowadays, increasingly numbers of people claim that a good education leads to success. Choosing and studying at a good university is usually a ”severe”, but now there are many good reasons why not only look easy way.

When I talk with students who speak English (or other language) and are making decisions about where to go to study, they usually considering between universities geographically located in Europe, United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. But far the most popular country to go and study these days is United Kingdom. Indeed, according to many newspaper articles there is a rise in European or International students at UK universities.

But why are the British Universities so popular? There are several reasons for selecting a UK university.  One is related to fields of study the ambition to learn more and better; because let’s face it UK universities has very good ranking among the Universities worldwide. The second is a desire to travel, to experience something new. It does not just mean dissatisfaction with domestic conditions, but to try a different system. Those who studied or are currently studying in UK probably experienced a little bit of  cultural shock.  For this situations is good to have somebody who can guide you through it.

I have decided to invest in my future and I did not regret it. I finished my masters in UK and I can only suggest this wonderful experience to everybody. If you are considering to invest in your future, do not hesitate to contact us and would be pleased to help with the first steps.

by Jozef Simon