General information about UK colleges for international students and partners

What’s it like studying at a college in Britain?

Our colleges are regularly inspected to ensure they provide high-quality education and are financially stable. They are held to the same high standards as secondary schools and universities – unlike private colleges which do not go through the same rigorous inspection.

AoC colleges offer a broad range of courses. You can learn English, get a degree or develop your professional skills.

An AoC college is a safe place to study where you will enjoy an authentic British experience and learn alongside British students.

The benefits of studying in Britain

  • You can study English as a foreign language here. As well as beginner level courses, there are many advanced courses so you can improve your fluency or develop your business English.
  • Your English will improve quickly because you’ll be surrounded by it all the time. There’s simply nowhere better to learn English than Britain.
  • You can do your High School Diploma (known as A Levels in England) or a foundation degree. You’ll have many subjects to choose from – including maths, science, art, design, humanities, business and languages.
  • Or you can do a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc).
  • The quality of the education is excellent. The British government funds, regulates and inspects AoC colleges so you can be sure that your course will be good.
  • AoC colleges have a proven track record of supporting students to succeed. Some 85% of our students complete their course and earn a qualification.
  • You can begin or continue your higher education. Your foundation degree could give you access to a degree course. Then your degree could give you access to a Masters.
  • The cultural opportunities are extraordinary. Whatever your interests – art, music, theatre, dance, design, sport, history or archaeology – you’ll find opportunities to pursue them here.

What’s student life like in British colleges?

Student life in Britain is fantastic. These are some of the things our international students say: 

  • You’ll have so much fun. Britain has loads of cool clubs, bars, gigs and places to go. You will always have something amazing to do.
  • You’ll live with a local family and study and socialise with British students. You get an authentic British experience when you are studying at an AoC college – unlike the students at private language schools who are only with other students from abroad.
  • You’ll meet people from all over the world. Britain is very international. You’ll make friends from many countries while you are studying here.
  • You’ll have a choice of incredibly different places to study. These include lively cities, beautiful market towns and peaceful country campuses.
  • You’ll feel safe. By international standards, Britain is a safe country with low rates of street crime and violence.*
  • You’ll be supported by the international student liaison officer at your college. They will advise you about suitable courses, arrange your accommodation and help you to settle into college life.
  • You’ll get good value for your money. The quality of the education is high and the fees are reasonable.
  • British students like studying with international students. You’ll find them friendly and welcoming.

* Information supplied by Visit Britain, the UK's national tourism agency. Read the full Visit Britain safety and security tips.

How to find the right course and college for you

You can find information about college courses in Britain by speaking to a local college agent or by contacting the British Council office in your country. Your school or university should be able to recommend an agent if you need to find one.

What course would you like to study at college?

You’ll find a huge variety of courses at British colleges. They offer many more options than private language schools or private colleges.

Before you begin looking at courses, ask yourself what goal you want to achieve.

If you want to:

  • improve your English – then look at English language courses;
  • improve your English and learn vocational skills – take a look at English Plus courses;
  • gain access to university – focus on A Level or foundation courses that will meet the entry requirements of the university you want to attend;
  • work in a particular job or career – look at vocational courses that will prepare you for that job or career.

Once you know what course or courses you need to achieve your goals, you can research them more easily. You’ll find detailed information on college websites and in their prospectuses.

Most colleges have international student liaison officers who can advise you about the courses that are suitable for you. You can ask them detailed questions about the entry requirements and course curriculum.

Which college will suit you best?

The UK has a large number of colleges. Have a look at this list of all AoC colleges in Britain. Every college also has its own website so you can easily find out more about its courses, facilities and location.

When you are considering colleges, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where would I like to spend my time in Britain?
  • What sort of accommodation would suit me – on campus or with a home-stay* family?
  • What sort of support and social activities would I like to have at college?

*Home-stay is the most widely available accommodation. This means living with a host family. It is the best way of improving your English and learning about British culture.

Where should I live?

Research different places to live in Britain by searching online – almost every place, town and city has a website for visitors. You can also find general information for visitors to the UK from the UK's national tourism agency.

How good is the college?

Read the UK Government inspection report for a college. The reports come from the Government's inspectorate of education, Ofsted. Its report will contain an assessment of the college’s education and student support.

How to apply to a British college: an overview

  • The international liaison officer at your college will help you with your application. They can advise you on entry requirements, the application process, fees, living costs and visa requirements.
  • Before you arrive in Britain, the international office at your college will arrange your accommodation. They may even be able to organise a taxi to collect you from the airport.
  • Colleges closely manage and monitor home-stay families. They will help you settle into your accommodation and help if there are any problems.
  • While you are at college, you will always have support from the college's international office. They will welcome you when you arrive, invite you to social events and answer your questions about college life.

For more information, see the website of the college where you want to study. This list of all AoC colleges in England is a good starting point.

How to apply for a visa to Britain

You will need a visa to study in Britain.

Your college will advise you on the type of visa that you need for your course. They can also advise you about the documentation that you’ll need for your visa application.

Britain has four different student visas:

  • Child Visa – for young people under 18 who want to study on a short course
  • Student Visitor Visa – for adults who want to study on a short course
  • Tier 4 Visa – for adults who want to study on a course that lasts for 11 months or longer
  • Tier 5 Visa – for young people from participating countries and territories who want to study in Britain.

Download more information and online visa applications.