Short-term study visa

What is a Short-term study visa?

Short-term study visas allow students to come and study in the UK for a short period of time.


Who is it for?

You could apply for a short-term study visa if you are:

  • a visiting or exchange students studying for less than six months
  • an International Summer School student
  • a distance learning student coming to Plymouth for less than six months
  • an English language student studying a course of less than 11 months (if you're doing a pre-sessional course, apply for a Tier 4 visa instead)
  • doing a re-sit exam or retaking a module less than six months at Plymouth
  • a PhD student returning to Plymouth for your viva (Please note: if you have a short-term study visa, you can't apply for the Doctoral Extension Scheme afterwards)
  • Doing a short period of research or research tuition.

Should I apply before travelling or can I get one on arrival at the UK Border?

If you are a visa national (you need a visa to travel to the UK) then you need to apply in advance from outside of the UK. 

If you are non-visa national (such as USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong), you can either: 

  • apply for a short-term six months study visa online from your home country before you arrive in the UK
  • apply to enter the UK as a short-term student when you arrive at the port of entry

However, as non-visa national studying an English language course which will last for more than six months but a maximum of 11 months, you must apply from outside of the UK (and if you are from certain countries you will have to pass a tuberculosis screening test before you apply). Additionally, if you have previously been refused a visa, you should apply in advance from outside of the UK.

The easiest way to find out what type of visa you need is to access this Gov.UK link: Check if you need a UK visa

What are the restrictions of a Short-term study visa?

You can’t:

  • study at a state school
  • work (including on a work placement or work experience) or carry out any business
  • extend this visa
  • switch from this visa to another whilst the UK
  • bring family members (‘dependants’) with you – they must apply separately
  • get public funds
  • study in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive periods as a short-term student.

This visa should not be used if you are an academic visitor. You will need a Standard Visitor visa instead.

Can I extend this visa in the UK if I decide to stay longer?

If you are granted a Short-term study visa and then decide to stay longer than the six months on your visa, you will not be allowed to extend this visa or switch into another visa category from within the UK. If you want to stay longer in the UK to study, you could apply for a Tier 4 visa instead which will give you more options but you need to decide this before you come to the UK. Please contact us if you are unsure.

If you wish to extend your visa from within the UK, you may wish to apply for Tier 4 (General) Visa instead.

Can I do any work, paid or unpaid?

You will not be permitted to do any work at all, even if it is part of your course and even if it is voluntary work. The visa is for short term study so must be used only for study.

If you wish to work part time during your study, you may wish to apply for Tier 4 (General) Visa instead.

Where can I find the application form?

You can find the application on the Gov.UK webpage

Do I have to apply from my home country?

Entry clearance as a short-term student can be applied for from within any country outside of the UK (it does not have to be the country where you normally live).

What supporting documents do I need to make an application?

You must provide documents to prove that you:

  • have been offered a place on a course in the UK at an accepted place of study. Plymouth University can, upon request, provide you with a Short-term study visa letter to support your visa application
  • have enough money to support yourself without working or help from public funds. If relatives and friends are supporting and housing you, they will need to show bank statements and written statements to prove this. If you are funding your own visit, you will need to show a bank statement with enough funds to cover living and housing costs during your whole stay in the UK. No amount is suggested by the Home Office but Tier 4 students are currently required to show £1015 for each month for living costs so you may wish to use this as a guide
  • can pay for your return or onward journey. If you have already booked the return flight then send a copy of the ticket in with your application, otherwise add the cost flight to your bank account balance.

If you’re under 18 you must also:

  • have made arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK
  • have permission from your parent or guardian to study in the UK.

What documents should I carry in my hand luggage to show at the UK Border Control when I arrive?

If you do not obtain entry clearance before you travel, you will need to produce all the documents stated above to support your application to enter the UK as a short-term student to the Border Force Officer when you arrive at the port of entry to the UK.

It is important you ask to be admitted as a short-term student (rather than as a standard visitor) and make sure they look at your short-term study visa letter from Plymouth University (which confirms your unconditional offer and acceptance on the course). Check that the stamp you get in your passport shows you are here as a short-term student.

Even if you obtain entry clearance as a short-term student before travelling to the UK, you should still carry all the documents that you submitted with your entry clearance application. The Border Force Officer may ask to see these documents when you arrive in the UK.

How much does it cost?              

This link will give you up to date costs: Short Term Study Fees

How long does it take to get one?

This depends on where you apply. You can apply for a visa up to three months before your date of travel to the UK and usually you would get a decision on your visa within three weeks.

Check the guide processing times 

Medical insurance

If you are coming to Plymouth for up to six months, you will not be entitled to free hospital or other medical treatment so you will need private medical insurance. This is a matter for you to sort out, and will not be of any relevance to your immigration application.

The situation is different if you are using the 11-month short-term student route for English Language. As part of your application, you will have to pay an 'immigration health surcharge' of £150. This is mandatory and will mean you will be exempt from paying UK National Health Service hospital fees.

Where can I get more information?

Please email international.advice@plymouth.ac.uk if you have any questions. We will offer you guidance on any aspect of student visa immigration.

You can also research the Short-term study visa on the Gov.UK webpage and the UK Council for International Student Affairs UKCISA webpage.