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International Students


If you have previously studied at degree level in the UK, there may be additional factors you need to consider before applying for a new student visa to study at Cambridge. The Home Office limits the amount of time a student can study on a student visa at undergraduate degree level, and also requires students to demonstrate they are progressing academically when they wish to apply for permission to stay on a student visa.

Academic Progression

If you have been studying in the UK, in order to apply for a new student visa inside the UK (apply for permission to stay) you need to fulfil the academic progression requirements:

  • You must have successfully completed the course for which your last Tier 4/student visa was granted. This can be demonstrated by having received the certificate or transcript confirming the award  or, where the award has not yet been issued and the student is studying at degree level at a university, by providing formal written confirmation from your institution that, based on the assessment and your performance throughout the course, you are highly likely to complete the course successfully. The letter should also confirm when the qualification will be awarded. Applicants will be asked to provide this evidence as part of their conditions of offer. 
  • If you have not successfully completed the course for which your last Tier 4/student visa was granted, including where you have been awarded a different qualification from that stated in your previous CAS, you will normally be required to apply for a new student visa from outside the UK to undertake the new course at Cambridge. Exceptions include where you made a permitted course change during your studies, and (from April 2021) where you exited an integrated master’s programme having successfully completed the course leading to the award of the lower level qualification which formed a part of that programme. Contact the International Student Office to check if this is applicable to your circumstances and you plan to make a student visa application for your new course inside the UK.  
  • The new course must demonstrate you are progressing academically in your studies in the UK. This means your new course must normally be above the level of the previous course studied on a Tier 4/student visa. If a new course is at the same level as the previous course, it can be considered to represent academic progression if the new course is related to the previous course OR the previous course and new course combined support the student's career aspirations. If the University makes you an offer of admission and you have previously studied in the UK at the same level, your CAS will need to include a justification of how this represents academic progression in order for you to fulfil the academic progression requirement.
  • A new course at a lower level is not considered to represent academic progression and students would be required to apply for new student visa from outside the UK.
Time limit on study

The Home Office limits the time you can spend studying in the UK on a student visa at undergraduate degree level. This includes leave granted under a Tier 4 visa, and/or a student visa.

In general, you are limited to a maximum of five years in the UK studying at undergraduate level. The Home Office allows you more time if you are studying Architecture, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine and Science, Music at a Conservatoire or Law (conversion course, Legal Practice course, or Bar course).

To calculate the time limit, the Home Office counts the proposed period of leave together with any current leave and any previous leave held on a student visa. This includes leave granted where the student has subsequently left the UK. Time spent studying in the UK under the age of 18 is not counted towards the time-limit.

There is no maximum study requirement for applicants who are studying a course above undergraduate degree level.

These rules apply to undergraduate and Advance Diploma applicants, offer holders and current students.

Before applying to the University, you must consider the time you have already spent in the UK on a student visa. Whilst the University may make you an academic offer, if the University knows that you cannot start or complete your studies within the maximum time limit set by the Home Office, it will not issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is required to make a valid student visa application.