A step by step guide for international students to study at South Tyneside College

South Tyneside College has a long established history for providing training and education to international students. We enrol over 100 nationalities each year as part of our cohort of over 2,000 students.

Whether you have studied with us before, or you are thinking about studying with us for the first time, it is important that we understand and follow our guidance on the current student visa applications to ensure your application is both prompt and successful.

Step 1

Please either use our website or contact us to get the details of the next enrolment dates and the duration of your course. This duration will determine whether you require a full Tier 4 visa (via the Confirmation of Study CAS process) or a Short term student visa for programme under 6 months.

Step 2

Once you have decided which programme of study and which start dates are best for you, then we will need the following information from you

  1. Confirmation of which programme and start date you would like to attend
  2. A copy of your passport, showing your photograph and details
  3. c i). Payment of the appropriate course fees will be required before an acceptance letter for Short-term Study Visa application or CAS for Tier 4 (General) visa is issued. 

    c ii). For courses exceeding six months duration, we will need evidence that you have enough money to support yourself whilst studying in the UK.  The amount depends on the length of your course and to obtain a visa to study with us, you must be able to show that you have £1015 per month for living costs for the majority of your study (up to a maximum of 9 months) and that you have held those funds for a minimum of 28 days prior to applying for your visa.   We require sight of the evidence to ensure you meet the requirement for a successful visa application.

  4. For courses exceeding six months’ duration, we will need a copy of your IELTS for UKVI Test Report Form, showing an overall level of 5.0, with not more than one grade below 4.5 for HNC/D programmes; an overall level of 6.0 for the FD and Degree programmes with no grades lower than 5.5 or 5.5 PLUS a minimum one year study programme in the UK. Trinity ISE I and ISE II certificates for tests taken inside the UK are also accepted. Other English language qualification evidence may be used if you are applying for a Short-Term Study Visa.

    Please contact the college for further advice.

  5. A copy of your most recent education certificate showing that you have met the entry requirements of the course
  6. For applicable countries a copy of your TB certificate See the tuberculosis screening programmes information

For the latest information on how to apply for a UK student visa, see the visa information on the UK government website.

Step 3

South Tyneside College will assess your application and contact you if further information is required. On receipt of the full tuition fees the College will issue the appropriate visa to you.

Should you decide to withdraw then the College will pay you the full tuition fees back to your bank, minus an administrative fee of £50. No refunds are given once a visa is issued.

Step 4

Submit your application at the nearest British Embassy, High Commission, or VFS-UK which issues visas or entry clearance. Complete a VAF9 application form plus Points Based System Appendix 8 if you are applying for the student Tier 4 (General) visa from outside the UK

Forms are available to download from the UKVI website     Apply for a visa online

The British Embassy or High Commission in your own country will ask you for the same documents that you presented to us in stage 2. It is vital that you do not omit any documents (which must be originals) otherwise your visa will be refused.

You are advised to make your visa application as soon as you receive your offer from South Tyneside College, remembering to factor in the time it will take to provide biometric data (photographs and fingerprints).

Applications for dependants/family members applying either alongside the main applicant or separately should also use the online version.

Step 5: 

You may be contacted to undertake a Credibility Interview. At this interview the Visa Clearance Officer will ask you a number of questions to ensure that you are a credible student.

There are two types of credibility interview. The first type will take place at the same time as your biometrics are taken at the Embassy or designated agency. This initial interview should only take five minutes and will be via video link with the Home Office in the UK. The focus of this interview will be your reasons for choosing the UK, South Tyneside College and your particular programme of study.

You may also be asked questions on the content of your course and how it fits into your career aspirations. The Home Office will record the interview and send a summary to the Entry Clearance Officer who will decide if a second, more detailed, interview is needed.

The Home Office expects most applicants to be able to prove they are genuine at the first stage and that this will in fact speed up the decision process because fewer documentation checks will be required.

Typical questions may include:

Q Why did you choose South Tyneside College?

Answer preparation : Think about why you chose the UK rather than your home country, other English-speaking country or country which other students of your nationality choose to study in. You should be able to explain how the programme you have applied to undertake will provide a direct assistance to your existing or chosen career in the Merchant Navy. You should also be aware where South Shields is and how you will travel there. Finally the interview will want to know why you have chosen South Tyneside College rather than one of the other maritime providers in the UK or even in your own country.

Answer honestly and say why you chose South Tyneside College. It is not a trick question and there is no right answer but the interviewer wants to hear evidence that you have thought about your choice and you know why you made it.

You may want to mention that you are aware where you will stay and if you are aware of other people who have previously studied with us.

Q: Why did you choose your programme?

Answer preparation: There are many similar programmes in the same subject area as the one you plan to study at South Tyneside College. The interviewer wants to hear why you chose this course above all others. You should familiarise yourself with your course content so that you know all of the important details. Questions will probably include the name and content of modules, course duration, the assessment process, your career opportunities after completing the course and the benefits that this course will provide to you. This is not an exhaustive list and you should ensure you know as much as you can.

If you know previous students at South Tyneside College, you can say that this has influenced your choice of destination. It might be helpful to explain how the course has benefited their careers and you wish to replicate that success.  

For Collaborative Students: If you are applying to undertake the second year of your HND then you should submit a copy of the MCA approval for your course to show that you are following a UK Government approved course and that you are required to come to the UK to complete the second year of your HND and you do not have the option of enrolling at another centre. This may lead to a subsequent question about why did you choose South Tyneside College in the first place, so you will need to explain that you did this as the start of your year one.

Q: If the costs of pursuing your course of study are higher in the UK than in your home country, why have you decided to incur the extra costs involved with studying in the UK?

Answer preparation: Think about the advantages that a Certificate of Competency or academic qualification from the UK might give you and why you and/or your family are prepared to make this investment. Have you made a realistic assessment of all the costs involved and how you plan to pay for them? Remember that these costs include accommodation and costs of living.

Q: Can you tell me the location of the college?

Answer preparation: You should know the exact location of South Tyneside College and how you may get there. If you travel to London, you will need to catch either a bus or train and you should know how to do this. If you travel direct to the local airport (Newcastle) then be aware that you can travel by light railway to get to South Tyneside College

Also where will you stay – with friends already studying at South Tyneside College or at the College’s own Halls of Residence. This answer shows you know where you are going and how to get there!

Q: What will be the total cost of studies per year?

Answer preparation: You should be well aware of your tuition fees and other expenses and how they will be met. Mention the tuition fees and the living expenses and you may be asked how you will repay any loan that has been taken out.

Q: You have previously studied in the UK - why have you chosen to return?

Answer preparation: Think about how the new programme relates to previous studies and how it will enable you to progress in your maritime career.

Q: You have had a long break in your studies, why are you returning to study now?

Answer preparation:  Think about how you explain your decision in the context of your long-term career plans. What did you do during your break in studies? Do you have a job now? Does this new course complement previous studies or will it enable you to do your current job better?

Q Do you plan to work whilst you study in the UK?

Answer preparation: You cannot work whilst studying in the UK, so you must state that your existing funds will pay for your course fees and living costs.

Q What will you do once your course is finished?

Answer preparation: You intend to work in the maritime sector from your own country. Therefore once the course is completed, your new qualification will assist you is gaining new and better employment based in your home country, and you do not want to source or undertake work in the UK as you can live much more cheaply in your home whilst enjoying the benefits that the UK qualifications will provide for you.

You should be aware of the monthly salary you would receive in your new rank, If you are a collaborative student then you are still in training when you return home to join your first ship as trainee, so explain how this ship placement is part of your training scheme and once completed you will return to the UK to complete your studies.

Q : How will you fund your studies? (This is normally asked only at a second interview)

Answer preparation: The purpose of this question is to check that your funds are genuinely available to you for your studies. As part of your application you will have submitted proof of your finances - ensure that you are very clear about the source and availability of these funds.

For students that are receiving bank loans that recent questions have focussed on the ability to repay this loan. You will need a credible explanation of who is repaying the loan and that these loan repayments can be easily made from their existing and declared salary.

If you have official financial sponsorship make sure you are aware of the amounts and exactly what is covered.

The interviewer will also be checking your ability to converse well in English, if there is any issue with hearing them clearly e.g. via the video link, you should ensure that you raise this so that they are aware that it is a technical issue not one of comprehension.

Q: What is your father / guardian income source? How much he earns in a year?

Answer preparation: This is again another example of question to verify your financial documents. If you have taken a bank loan they often ask this question to assess how that loan can be re-paid.

Q: Who all are earning members in your Family?

Answer preparation: Visa officer wants to know if you have a strong financial background. Mention your Father, Mother, brother, etc who all are earning to assist the visa clearance officer understand how you will support yourself.

Q: What is the course commencement date?

Answer preparation: You should remember the exact dates of when the course starts and when the course finishes. Please read your offer letter and ensure you are aware of the final start date of the course before your visa interview.

Step 6

Check your visa carefully

When you get your visa, it is essential that you check it carefully to ensure that:

  • Your name and date of birth are correct
  • It says you are a Tier 4 student
  • It starts on or before the date you want to travel to the UK
  • It does not end sooner than you expect

If any of these details are incorrect, please ask to have your visa amended before you travel as it is very difficult to make changes afterwards and may affect your right to remain in the UK.

Step 7

Make you travel and accommodation arrangements. If you are delayed in attending your course for the course start date then you must inform South Tyneside College. If you are unable to attend before the final acceptance date, then again contact South Tyneside College who will give you your future options.