Many articles talking about student loans in the UK usually focus on indigenous students. There are hundreds of foreign students coming into the UK from all parts of the world each year, and many of them, especially those from Third World countries need these student loans more than the domestic students. This post focuses on those international students and details how to access loans in the UK, and the processes involved.
European Union International Students
EU students are typically eligible to obtain loans to take care of their tuition fees. This applies to both the full time and the part time undergraduate students. In some cases and depending on some factors such as the location of the institution and the duration or kind of course being studied, the students may also be eligible to access maintenance grants and other loans to offset living costs and bills. EU international students to the UK may get grants added to their loan if it is proven that they are from low income homes, disabled or have children. More information can be found by following this link: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/UniversityAndHigherEducation/StudentFinance/StudentsFromOtherEUCountries/DG_065322
It is unclear at this time whether the exit of the UK from the EU will affect this arrangement in future.
Non-European Union Students
Students who come from other countries outside the European Union (especially Asia and Africa) have a more tricky issue with accessing student loans from banks in the UK. According to literature from the United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), the student needs to have spent up to 3 years in the UK prior to the admission in order to qualify for the loan, amongst other eligibility clauses. For more info, follow this link: http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/
While it may seem very difficult for non-EU students to apply for loans in the UK, it is not impossible however. Certain international bodies exist to facilitate this process and make it easier for international students to gain access to these loans. A typical example is IEFA which partners with various banks around the world and the UK to make loans easily accessible for international students. Non-EU students are advised to search for other such organizations and compare offers for the best.
Not qualifying for a student loan should not be the end of the world for an international student. The objective is to study hard and excel, there is always an opportunity to apply for a grant. Grants are more beneficial than loans in that they do not have to be repaid. A student who lost out on a loan application can gain by a grant. Also, managing to qualify for a loan should not be translated to an opportunity to laze about for the student. Banks in the UK are concerned about deriving profit for the investment (loan) in the student and often conduct reviews of their accounts. Performing unfavourably in such a review can mar the chances of such a student retaining their loan.