I'm about to finish my BSc in Computer Science, and in September I'll start an MSc in UK.

What if I don't want to waste my time during the August and September months? Would it be feasible to ask a university for a short period as a visiting student in their department?

What are the steps to follow?

  • 1
    It depends on the university. At UCL for instance you cannot apply for a visiting student status unless you're doing a PhD elsewhere (ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/international/affiliate/…) but you can apply for voluntary work (ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/internships.php). In practice, if students volunteered to work on my projects they would need an excellent track record for me to bear with the extra supervision effort. – Steve Dodier-Lazaro May 22 '15 at 16:48
  • Answer for Steve DL Thanks for your answer, I understand the extra effort an additional student/volunteer can cause, but I wouldn't manage to say if, for instance, a student like me can be considered to have an excellent track record. I wasted six years in Med school, without achieving the title, then I turned for Computer Science where I'm getting my bachelor degree in two lovely years (instead of three). I'm happy to study, I'm inclined to academical life, I enjoyed what I've studied so far, I'd like to continue my career in some theoretical field, currently I hold an internship here in my F – user34884 May 22 '15 at 19:52
  • See below. You might want to talk to your MSc supervisors and see if you can do a summer project, for instance. – Steve Dodier-Lazaro May 26 '15 at 10:33

There's no simple formula, and each university will have its own visiting student schemes. This being said, there are usually classic methods for visiting a UK university:

Enrolling in a degree

Obviously you can apply to be enrolled in a degree, pay your tuition fees and study for the degree in the UK. You can usually get a Visa via this mechanism (except for London Metropolitan University which is no longer allowed to issue visas by the UK Border Agency).

  • Duration: 1 to 4 years.
  • Cost: a lot. ~£4,000 to £10,000 for EU students, ~£20,000 for non-EU students.
  • Requirements: apply to target uni. Proof of academic competence required, usually good grades and a BSc/BA for a MSc/MA position.

Applying for an semester abroad as an Erasmus student

You can use the Erasmus Programme to visit a EU university as a EU student. Some non-EU universities located in Europe may also be eligible.

  • Duration: usually 3 to 6 months.
  • Cost: free, paid by your university and the EU's Erasmus mobility budget.
  • Limited scholarships available, usually ~€400 / month
  • Requirements: must apply to your uni of choice, selection process varies. Your uni often must have a prior agreement with the target uni.

Applying as an exchange student

You can apply outside the Erasmus scheme if you uni has an exchange agreement with the target UK uni.

  • Duration: usually 3 to 6 months.
  • Cost: depends on agreement, can be free or can requirement payment of tuition fees.
  • Requirements: depends on agreement.

Applying as a visiting research student.

You can get opportunities to visit foreign unis as part of your PhD, a bit like an internship. This is fairly common across the world.

  • Duration: 3 to 12 months.
  • Cost: free.
  • Requirements: must be enrolled in a PhD-level course, must have found a supervisor to welcome you in target uni.

Applying for an internship.

You can also join a uni as part of an internship programme, if a position is available in a research group. This normally does not involve any teaching, or in marginal amounts.

  • Duration: 2 to 6 months.
  • Cost: free.
  • Remuneration: depends on uni, not guaranteed... ~£330 per week in some London universities.
  • Requirements: there must be an internship position available, and you must be the best available candidate. You must work.

Applying for a volunteering position.

You can also join a uni as part of an internship programme, if a position is available in a research group. This normally does not involve any teaching, or in marginal amounts.

  • Duration: depends.
  • Cost: free.
  • Remuneration: none.
  • Requirements: there must be a volunteer position available, and the supervisor must agree to take you in. No deliverables required.
| improve this answer | |
  • There's another approach: just hang around. At many universities, a surprising number of events including lectures are open to the public free of charge. Turn up, make friends, get them to take you as a guest to places that are open to students and guests. Probably easier in my day when no-one asked you for ID to go into a library, but still quite possible I would think. – Michael Kay Sep 10 '19 at 15:03

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