How to apply for universities worldwide

Universities around the world may be similar in terms of teaching style or even campus design, but that doesn’t mean that the process of getting accepted into – or even applying to – a university is the same. Here is your quick cheat sheet into how to apply for overseas universities, just in case you’re interested.

United Kingdom

Most universities in the UK will only accept your application through the UCAS system online for a Bachelor degree – the system contains all the courses available from which you can pick five. The application fee is £18 for a single choice, or £24 for more than one. The application procedure will be different for some art and design courses, as well as postgraduate courses which are applied via UKPASS.

Application Deadline: 15 January for most courses (flexible for international students)
Visa: Apply online for the Tier 4 visa (£348); approval in about 3 weeks
Insurance: A health surcharge of £150 per year, applicable when applying for a visa


Universities in China don’t accept students over 30 for a Bachelor’s degree and over 40 for a Master’s degree and PhD. Would-be students must have no criminal record and be in good health. You can apply directly to universities – which charge an average of 1,128 yuan for application – or use education agencies. For English-instructed courses, you’ll need TOEFL or IELTS; for Chinese-taught programmes, you need the HSK.

Application Deadline: April (autumn semester), January (spring semester)
Visa: Apply for student X-Visa at the Chinese Embassy; apply one month in advance
Insurance: Students must be covered by a private medical insurance plan


You can apply to a university of your choice directly, or you can apply via education agents since most institutions partner with a number of agents. If you’re interested in studying in NSW and ACT states, the UAC website provides detailed information for international students. Most institutions charge an application fee of AUD$50-$100; some institutions waive this fee for online applications.

Application Deadline: Varies, but most around November
Visa: Apply online via ImmiAccount (AU$575); approval within 4-8 weeks
Insurance: Students must have an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


It’s recommended to start planning at least 18 months before you wish to study in the USA because you probably need to take SAT tests (A Levels not recognised) and you’ll need to write a personal statement. The US doesn’t have an application system for all universities, so apply directly through their websites (application fees are usually between US$75-$100). You will also be required to supply your TOEFL or IELTS certificates.

Application Deadline: March
Visa: Apply for an F1 student visa via the US Embassy (US$160), including interview; approval between a week to a few months
Insurance: Health insurance requirements vary by institution; even if not mandatory, it’s highly advisable to get one due to the high costs of medical care


Japan is aiming to attract more foreign students to study in the country. Depending on the university, you will need a JLPT (minimum N2) and TOEFL (for English programmes), but all universities require you to take the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) – offered twice a year in Singapore – to assess your Japanese language skill and academic ability.

Deadline: October (spring semester)
Visa: Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility via the university, then exchange it for a student visa at the Japanese embassy; apply at least 6 months in advance
Insurance: Students need to register with the National Health Insurance (premium about ¥20,000/year), which covers 70% of medical costs