Overseas & International Law Students; A Guide

Overseas & International Law Students; A Guide

Law students from around the world

The United Kingdom is a fantastic place to study law. It has a very rich legal history which has influenced the legal systems of countless other countries and has some of the best law schools in the world.

Unfortunately getting accepted into an overseas university from a foreign country can be a time consuming process.

However in this guide we aim to tell you everything you need to know in order to make the process much easier and take a step towards qualifying as a solicitor or barrister.

Are you from the EU?

If you’re a citizen of the European Union the process won’t be as complicated, and it will be cheaper too (compared to a non EU student). The course fees should be the same as a student from the UK.  Citizens of the EU have the right to study or work in another EU country. Essentially EU law dictates that you have the same rights as citizens from the UK and can’t be discriminated against. You don’t need to seek any sort of special student visa. If you are a Commonwealth citizen and at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK then you will not need a student visa either.

Are you from a non EU country?

If you want to study law in a UK university and you’re not from the EU then you need a student visa. You will need a (General) Tier 4 Visa. You should consult the UK Border Agency for detailed information but to get the Tier 4 visa this is essentially what you will need:

  • A confirmation of acceptance for studies. This is a virtual document issued by the course provider when you receive an unconditional offer of a place on the course. The institution must be recognised by the Border Agency. To get the certificate you obviously need to meet the criteria set by the university (explained below).
  • You will need to show that you have sufficient funds to pay for your studies & life in the UK. You will need £7,200 per year on top of the course fees. This will need to be shown by relevant bank documents.

Unfortunately some universities will charge higher course fees for international students compared to domestic students.

Acceptance onto the course

As you can see above you may actually be required to be accepted onto the course before you can obtain a student visa. Each university will differ in relation to entry requirements, so you should visit the website of the university you want to study the degree at. Also because different countries have different educational systems it’s hard to list exact requirements here. In general universities will expect the following:

  • Good grasp of the English language. You must be able to understand and communicate well in written and oral forms of English. You will usually need to obtain a certain score in the IELTS. The score will depend on the exact course and institution you’re studying at. Postgraduate law courses may require a higher score than undergrad courses.
  • Meet the minimum requirements set by the university for your countries local qualifications.
  • You may be required to sit an entrance exam.

Meeting the above criteria does not guarantee a place on the course. There will be limited places available on the course. Your application will usually be considered holistically – so although relevant work experience may not be required, it could help your application.

The British legal system

The British legal system is a common law system. This could be different than the system in your home country which may be a civil law system. The following countries also use common law:

  • Australia
  • Bangladesh
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Ireland (read about a law degree in Northern Ireland)
  • Jamaica
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • The United States
Therefore students coming from these countries will be more familiar with the structure of the British legal system than those coming from a civil jurisdiction. This video illustrates the key differences between civil and common law systems:

Whether you’re seeking to complete a LLM, do the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test or just complete the LL.B, studying overseas requires a ton of planning and commitment. For those reasons we strongly encourage you to research every part of your application. Get in touch with the university you want to study at and they should be able to offer lots of assistance and specific advice.

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