International Applicants Applying To Study Medicine In The UK

This guide is for international students applying to study Medicine in the UK. Like our other application guides, it is entirely free as part of our commitment to making high-quality information about a career in Medicine free and easily accessible.

Who are international medical students/ international medical school applicants?

Broadly speaking, medical students from countries outside the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA) are classified as international students. This is not a case of citizenship; rather it is dependent on several criteria which can include where the applicant or their guardian is “normally resident”. This means that for example, you could be a non-UK citizen but still be classified as a home student as you meet the ordinarily resident criteria and the other conditions.]

What are some of the differences between international medical students and home (UK/EU) medical students?

The distinction between home and international medical students is important. The UK government limit the number of international places medical schools can offer. This means that international applications to UK medical schools are very competitive. Additionally, there are differences between home and international students with regards to the fees they are charged to study Medicine and their access to funding/loans.

What is the application process for international students applying to UK medical schools?

For the most part, the process for international students applying to study Medicine in the UK is the same as it is for home students. However, there are several extra steps and considerations for international applicants to Medicine, which we highlight in this guide.

Both UK and international students applying to UK medical schools do so via a straightforward online system called UCAS. The annual submission deadline is October 15th. In one UCAS application, candidates can apply up to a maximum of four UK medical schools and an additional non-Medicine course. Increasingly in the UK, private medical schools are emerging which accept applications outside of UCAS. The UCAS form includes basic personal details, academic qualifications, a short personal statement written by you and a brief reference usually written by a teacher. Most medical schools also require both home and international students to sit an admissions test. The test used by the most medical schools is the UKCAT. Other medical schools use either the BMAT or the GAMSAT (only for graduate students). Medical schools will then interview successful applicants and from there decide to give them an offer or not.

The process described so far is the same for home and international students. International students may need to take the additional step of proving their English proficiency if English is not their first language. If applicants are successful, they will be called for interview. Sometimes international students can take interviews via webcam or in their own countries. If an international student gains an offer to study Medicine, they must apply for a visa if they require one.

Learning about the application process for international students applying to UK medical schools is essential for you to make an informed decision and to maximise your chances of success. We have many free guides on all aspects of the Medicine application process to help you do this. These are entirely free as part of our commitment to making high-quality information about a career in Medicine free and easily accessible. These include:

• Applying to Medicine Guides – including comprehensive guides on how to pick which medical school to apply to; how to write a Medicine personal statement; a guide to admissions tests for Medicine; A guide to applying to Medicine as a graduate and more.
• Medicine Interview Guides – including how to prepare for a Medicine interview; common interview mistakes and how to avoid them; our free database of Medicine interview questions and answers; a guide to medical ethics and more. Read More

If you prefer a face to face approach, we also offer excellent doctor delivered courses and one to one tutoring either online or in person. Both the courses and the tutoring are delivered only by doctors who received all four offers to study Medicine. See our services section for more information.

Fees for international medical students

For tuition fees, publicly funded medical schools (which make up the clear majority of UK medical schools) categorise students into either “home” or “overseas”. Home students (which includes EEA students) pay up to approximately £9,250 per year for tuition fees. The Government caps the maximum fee. International students’ fees vary much more as they are not regulated by the government and are around £20,000 to £40,000 per academic year. Private medical schools sometimes charge one price for both home and overseas students, which is usually around £20,000-£40,000 per academic year.

Funding for international medical students

Most UK and EEA students are eligible for a full tuition fee loan for the duration of their studies. Most UK students are also eligible for a maintenance loan to cover their day to day living expenses. EEA students do not usually qualify for maintenance loans unless they have lived in the UK for several years. International students do not qualify for either tuition fee loans or maintenance loans. Tuition fee and maintenance loans have several advantages over standard loans, e.g. they only need to be paid back at times when a graduate is earning over a certain threshold, they are cancelled if not paid back after a certain number of decades, etc.

Scholarships and bursaries for international medical students

Individual medical schools offer various bursaries and scholarships to students including international medical students. Individual medical schools will have details of these on their websites. You can also visit the British Council website for more information on scholarships which are available to international students.

Visas and immigration

You can easily check if you need a visa to study Medicine in the UK on the government website here. Generally, international medical students will require a Tier 4 (General) student visa. This enables international students to study and usually to work part-time alongside their medical degree if they wish. Applicants will need to wait until they have an offer from a medical school before applying for a Tier 4 (General) student visa. The medical school will be able to provide a document called a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) which can be used to apply for the visa.

Choosing which medical schools to apply to for international students

We have a free guide on how to decide which medical schools to apply to. The guide is very comprehensive and covers 19 points that you can systematically run through to determine if a medical school is an excellent choice to apply to. It also dispels many myths and clears up many common queries about medical schools and medical careers. We also have a free guide on how to make a 5th non-Medicine UCAS choice.

Academic Entry Requirements to UK medical schools for international students

You will need to check with the medical schools you are applying to whether or not they accept the qualifications from your country. You will find this information on each medical schools’ website, and it is usually very easily accessible.

English requirements for international students applying to Medicine

If English is not your first language, then you will have to demonstrate your language proficiency. This applies both to international students and to EEA students. Medical schools will have different requirements for how to do this. Many will expect international students (who do not speak English as a first language) to take the IELTS test even if they have an English GCSE. You need to take the academic version of this test. The IELTS can be taken in over 100 countries worldwide.

Admissions tests for international students applying to Medicine

Most medical schools require home and international students to take admissions tests such as the UKCAT or BMAT. They can be taken in sites all over the world. Far more people with the right qualifications and attributes apply to medical schools then there are places to offer them. For this reason, admissions tests are very important as it gives medical schools another tool to distinguish between candidates.

Admissions tests are very different from the type of exams that you will be used to taking in high schools and colleges. They assess a candidate’s skills in problem-solving and their ability to apply knowledge rather than merely recall memorised knowledge. Candidates must learn how to answer many questions quickly rather than a few done well. It is common not to be able to complete all the questions in the UKCAT or BMAT. Candidates must learn the skill of prioritisation and knowing what questions to skip and come back to later and which ones to guess.

It is therefore essential that international applicants to Medicine learn the right strategies and techniques to succeed in these exams. It is also imperative that international students know how different medical schools use admissions tests results so that they can make tactical decisions about which medical schools are best for them to apply to. You can do this by using our free UKCAT guides which include how to prepare for these tests. Our overview of admissions tests for medical school (updated for this year’s entry) is an excellent place to start. It highlights all the key information including dates, costs, which medical schools use them and has an FAQ section answering common queries. We also have entirely free guides on how to prepare for the UKCAT and BMAT which will be very useful for international applicants to Medicine.

Work experience

Generally, medical schools will not require or expect international students to have work experience in UK healthcare settings. However, work experience in a country somewhere and knowledge of the UK healthcare system is essential.

Work experience for Medicine takes two forms:

1. Direct observation of healthcare in clinical settings. For example, GP practices, hospitals, community-based healthcare services etc.

2. Working with others in caring or service roles. Particularly with individuals who are unwell, vulnerable, disabled or disadvantaged. This can include hospices, nursing homes, charities, schools, community centres, part-time jobs, e.g. customer services, volunteering and more.

Medical schools recognise that it may be difficult to obtain the first type of work experience especially for those under the age of 18. For this reason, both types of experience are valued. Some medical schools even prefer the second type of work experience as it is usually more hands on.

There are three main reasons admissions tutors require candidates to have completed work experience:

• To ensure that a candidate has a realistic understating of Medicine based on real experiences and research rather than just a burning desire to study Medicine.
• To show a candidate’s commitment to studying Medicine. Actions speak louder than words and organising and attending work experience shows commitment to studying Medicine.
• As a platform/medium to demonstrate that a candidate has specific traits and skills, e.g. teamwork, reliability, personal insight etc. “Showing” admissions tutors a candidate has these skills as evidenced by their work experience is far better than merely claiming to have these skills without any evidence. Work experience also provides a platform to develop these skills further.

The most important thing that medical schools are looking for from home or international applicant’s work experience is the meaning and insight that they gained from the experience, not just an account of what they did.

The personal statement for international applicants to Medicine

The personal statement is an integral part of your international application to study Medicine. We have a range of entirely free guides to help you including:

• How to write a medical school personal statement in 10 steps
• A full analysis of a successful Medicine personal statement which received all four offers for an interview (and subsequently four offers for a place). Read More
• Seven things that every Medicine personal statement must include. Read More
• Excellent grammar, spelling and punctuation are essential for any Medicine personal statement. Anything less than this is not acceptable. We have many free articles on these topics which may be of particular use to international applicants. See our free blogs section for these.

We also offer an excellent Medicine personal statement review service. A professional editor and then a doctor (who received all four offers to study Medicine) will review the personal statement line by line and make the appropriate corrections. After making sure the grammar and writing is flawless, they will also comment on the overall strength of the application and make suggestions of things which may be asked at interview based on your personal statement.

The Medicine Interview for international students

International students will sometimes be able to do their Medicine interviews via webcam or in their host country. The Medicine interview is one of the final hurdles for both home and international students in gaining a place at their chosen medical school. Success in Medicine interviews is not random. It involves a clear set of steps:

• An intelligent plan on how to prepare – This is covered in our free guide on how to prepare for your Medicine interview in seven steps. Read More
• Learning key strategies – We have plenty of free articles covering these as well as a free database of real Medicine interview questions with examples of full competent answers, analysis, and advice on how to approach these questions. Read More We also have a free guide to Medical Ethics and blog articles such as how to deal with hostile interviewers, how to answer opinion questions and more. Read More
• Avoiding common pitfalls – See our free guide on common Medicine Interview mistakes and how to avoid them. Read More
• Intelligent, reflective practice – Use our free exclusive database of Medicine interview questions and answers. Read More
• Execution on the day – Preparation and practice are one component of success. The other element is peak performance and execution on the day. Read our free article about dealing with nerves. Read More

If you prefer a face to face approach, Medicine Answered also provide excellent doctor delivered one day interview courses as well as one to one private tutoring online or in person. All of our courses and tutoring is delivered only by doctors who passed all four of their Medicine interviews. For more information see our services section.