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Do I need to apply for a visa?

The Check if You Need a UK Visa page on the UK Visas and Immigration website will help you to identify whether you need a visa to study in the UK. It also provides information about how to apply for a UK visa in your home country and has a list of visa application centres and their contact details.

The UK immigration system changed on 1 January 2021 and EEA nationals coming to the UK for 6 months or longer now need to apply for a visa. The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System – An introduction for EU Students is a useful information guide. You should keep yourself informed by checking the UK Visas and Immigration and UKCISA websites regularly. If you have any questions about the above information please contact the International and Student Experience team at

If you intend to enter the UK to study from 1 January 2021 onwards please refer to the sections titled:

  • Visitor Visa (if you intend to study at RCS for 6 months or less) OR
  • The Student Route (if you intend to study for more than 6 months on a course at degree level or above)

Under the Student route, the Conservatoire is a sponsor with a track record of compliance.

You can find more information about visas and restrictions on working during and after your studies at RCS in the dropdowns below.

Visitor Visa

If you are studying on a course at RCS that is less than six months long then you will need to apply for permission to enter (i.e. a visa) as a Standard visitor. Whether you apply in advance of travelling to the UK or at the UK port of entry will depend on whether you are a visa or non-visa national. For further information please read the Visitor Visa section on the UKCISA website.

There are a number of restrictions under the Visitor route. If you are coming to study a full-time course that lasts for six months or longer, or your course is less than six months in duration but you are required to do a work placement as part of your course, then you will need to request a CAS from the Conservatoire to enable you to apply for the a visa under the Student route.

The Visitor route is relevant for those people on distance learning courses who only want to come to the UK for a limited period at any given time, and for those who need to re-sit an exam or re-take a module. Please refer to the guide: Studying in the UK – Visitor and EVW Guidance

More information on the Visitor route is available at The Home Office and on the UKCISA website.

Have any questions?

Contact our International and Student Experience team at

The Student Route

From 1 January 2021 if you intend to study a full-time course that is longer than six months in duration and you are not a UK/Irish national you will need to gain permission to enter to study in the UK. You must obtain a visa under the Student Route before you travel to the UK.

If you are already studying in the UK you may be able to apply to extend your current visa in the UK:

For information on the Student route, read RCS’s guide: Studying in the UK 

Further information about the Student route is also available on the Home Office website: UK Government – Student Route

Student Route Visa Requirements

When you apply for a Student route visa, you’ll require several documents, including your passport and evidence of qualifications and finances.

Items required by all applicants:

  • A valid passport
  • One passport-sized photograph which meets the UKVI requirements
  • A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS – 14-digit alpha-numeric code unique to you) – RCS will send this to you by email once you have accepted an unconditional offer, emailed RCS a copy of your passport, paid your deposit and submitted a Student
  • Route Evidence Request Form
  • Evidence of English language level
  • Financial requirements
  • Evidence of qualifications
  • Translations

Applicants from certain countries are required to submit:

Differential evidence requirement:

  • If you are a national of one of the exempt countries listed on the UK Government’s website, UKVI states that you can be considered under the differential evidence requirement (previously referred to as low-risk nationals). This means that you do not need to submit points-scoring evidence (financial and educational qualification documents) with your visa application. You will need to sign a declaration in the Student Route visa application form to confirm that you have the required evidence available to you, should UKVI staff request to see it. You will still have to send your original passport and all other relevant supporting documents.

Applying for a Student Route Visa

Please refer to the UK Home Office website for further details. You cannot start an application without having been issued with your CAS. The earliest point at which you can be issued a CAS is 6 months before the start of your course, provided you have met the requirements listed in the section Student Route Visa Requirements above:

However, RCS chooses to issue CASs at the end of April at the earliest.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Student route visa applicants are required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their visa application. It gives applicants access to the National Health Service in the UK and costs £776 per year for students. For more information go to:

Further queries can be directed to the International and Student Experience team via

What to do when you receive your Student route visa?

The student route will be open from 5 October 2020 for applications from EEA nationals which are made outside of the UK. The student route will extend to EEA nationals coming to the UK from 1 January 2021 to study a course which meets the requirements of the route. Immigration permission will be given in an electronic format.

For non-EEA nationals your visa will be issued as a vignette (sticker) in your passport and will only be valid for 30 days. You must enter the UK on, or after, the ‘valid from’ date printed on the vignette in your passport but within the 90 day period.

If you do not travel to the UK during this 90 day period then your vignette will expire and you will need to apply for another 90-day vignette if you still wish to travel to the UK. For more information on what to do in this situation please go to the UKCISA website. Your 90-day vignette will be accompanied by a letter. You must read this and keep it safe.

On arrival in the UK nationals of some countries are permitted to enter using the eGates. If you’re a Student route visa holder and you’re from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the USA and your passport has a ‘chip’ then you can use the eGates. However, if you’re a national of one of the countries listed above and you’re 16 or 17 years of age you must be accompanied by an adult in order to use the eGates. Please do not use the eGates if you’re a short-term student and need to apply for entry clearance – join the queue to see a Border Force Officer instead.

Guide to faster travel through the UK border

If you are not eligible to use the eGates you should join the queue to speak to a Border Force Officer and be able to demonstrate that you can speak English at the correct level. You should also have paper (not electronic) documents related to your studies, your finances and your accommodation in Glasgow. Check that they have put a date stamp on your entry clearance.

You must collect a biometric residence permit (BRP) from a post office within 90 days of arriving in the UK. When you complete your visa application the form will give you a choice of post offices from which to collect your BRP. The form will select these post offices based on the addresses you provide on your application, that is the address where you will be living and the address Student route sponsor. If neither of the suggested post offices are convenient for you then you have the option to enter a third postcode and select a different post office. Please ask the Conservatoire for further advice on BRP collection if required.

The letter that accompanies your 90-day vignette will contain the details of the post office that you selected. If you change your mind and would like to collect your BRP from a different post office then you will have to pay a fee. You do not have to make an appointment at the post office but you must take your 90-day vignette and your letter with you. If you do not collect your BRP within 90 days of arriving in the UK you may have to pay a fine and/or your visa may be cancelled.

The Conservatoire is permitted to allow its students to matriculate (register/enrol) using their 90-day vignette and letter. However, if you choose to do this you will need to show the Conservatoire your BRP before your vignette expires. Ideally, you should collect your BRP before matriculation if you are able to. Please do not break quarantine restrictions in order to collect your BRP.

For further, more detailed, guidance on BRPs please see the Home Office guidance

What to check when you receive your Student route Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?

It is essential that you check that that the details on your visa (or 90-day vignette and accompanying letter) are correct:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • That you are a Student route student
  • The Sponsor Licence Number (SLN) of the institution that you intend to study at that the start and end dates of the permission are correct
  • Work conditions (see our guidance about working during your studies below)

If any of this information is incorrect, ask for it to be changed immediately, before you travel to the UK. If there is no time for the error to be corrected before you travel, ask the entry clearance post for advice.

If your visa ends too soon, or if your work conditions are stricter than they should be, or if you have a condition to register with the police when you should not, you can ask for these errors to be corrected before you travel. Alternatively, you can travel to the UK and then request a correction of the visa error later. You can ask the staff in the International and Student Experience Team to submit a request for a correction on your behalf. See BRP and visa problems

What happens if your passport or BRP is lost or stolen

If your passport or BRP is lost or stolen you must make sure that you report it to the police and UKVI as soon as possible. You can do so via the Government’s website. You will need to apply for a replacement within three months of the loss or theft. In the first instance please go to the UKCISA website for further information. Please also see Pauline McCluskey for further support.

If you need any further advice after you have received your visa then please contact

Working During Your Studies

Employment restrictions under the Student route

When you are granted a Student route visa you are permitted to:

  • Work part-time during term time*
  • Work full-time during vacation or holiday periods**
  • Do a work placement as part of your course
  • Work as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer for up to two years

* The definition of part-time is 20 hours per week if you are studying a course at or above SCQF level 9 (i.e. degree level). Since 6 April 2017, ‘week’ has been defined in the Immigration Rules as “a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday”. If you work irregular hours and/or have more than one employer, you will need to keep detailed records of how many hours you work each day so that you can be sure that you are not in danger of breaching your work condition by exceeding 10 or 20 hours in any seven-day period, starting on a Monday.

** The term full-time is not defined but you should work on the assumption that it is around 35 hours in any seven-day period.

There are some restrictions to the type of work you can do which are:

  • You cannot fill a permanent full-time vacancy
  • You cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • You cannot be employed as a professional sportsperson or entertainer***

***Students on the BA Modern Ballet programme, BA/MA Musical Theatre programmes, and students on courses of study within the School of Music are permitted to be employed as entertainers only if the work is arranged via the Royal Conservatoire’s External Engagements department and the opportunity is an assessed and integral part of the student’s course. Students on any other programmes of study cannot be employed as entertainers.

If a Student route visa-holder wishes to take part in entertainment as an amateur then this permitted. ‘Amateur’ is defined as “a person who engages in creative activity solely for personal enjoyment and who is not seeking to derive a living from the activity”. A Student route visa-holder taking part in entertainment as an amateur cannot be in receipt of payment of any kind, including expenses.

More information can be found at UKCISA – What kind of work can you do? and How many hours can you work?

If you need any further clarification on your work restrictions please contact

As long as you abide by the above conditions you do not need to notify UK Visas and Immigration or the Conservatoire of your employment. You can also work full-time once your course has finished and you still have valid leave to remain, however, you must not break the conditions laid out above as this will be dealt with severely by UK Visas and Immigration and could affect the success of any future UK immigration application you may wish to submit.

It is important to stress that although those on the Student route are permitted to work (within the regulations noted above) the Conservatoire’s programmes of study are very intensive and you may not have time to work. You shouldn’t solely rely on securing employment to top-up your living expenses.

Employment restrictions under the Visitor route

If you come to the UK as a Visitor for the purpose of short-term study then your passport will have a stamp that says ‘No Work’ or ‘Work Prohibited’. This means that you are not allowed to:

  • take paid employment
  • take unpaid employment
  • do a work placement – even if it is part of your course
  • do voluntary work (but you can volunteer****)

If you are planning on working when you study with us you will need to check that you meet the requirements for the Student route visa. If you do meet those requirements you will have to make an application for a Student route visa in your home country. You cannot switch from being a Visitor to the Student route whilst in the UK.

****Voluntary workers often have a contract of employment and are also usually remunerated in kind whereas volunteers don’t have a contract of employment, don’t take the place of an employee, do not receive payment in kind and usually help a charity or voluntary organisation.

If you need any further information about working in the UK then please contact

EEA and Swiss Nationals

All EEA and Swiss national students can work in the UK without restriction if they have entered the UK on or before 31 December 2020 and applied for the Settlement/Pre-Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. For information about Brexit please go to–Advice/EEA–Swiss-Students/Brexit-what-we-know-for-EEA-students-and-their-family

Finding work

You can find advertisements for jobs in local newspapers, in shops, on notice boards around the Conservatoire and online on sites such as:

You can also approach recruitment agencies who specialise in areas of work such as hospitality, retail and administration.

The Conservatoire often advertises for ushers and for other part-time vacancies which would be suitable for students, with details being sent around by email or on the vacancies page at

Income Tax and National Insurance

You will have to pay income tax if you earn more than a specified personal allowance in any tax year as well as National Insurance. The Low Income Tax Reform Group has produced a special information guide on income tax for international students.

To work in the UK you will need a National Insurance Number (NINO). Further information can be found at UKCISA – Employers, Tax and National Insurance

Employer obligations

UK employers have a number of legal duties towards their employees. These include:

  • anti-discrimination measures
  • health and safety requirements
  • the obligation to pay the minimum wage
  • the obligation to comply with laws relating to maximum working hours and breaks
  • the duty to pay National Insurance contributions and to provide wage slips

Working After Your Studies

Working in the UK after your studies

Many students would like to secure employment in the UK after graduation. There are currently a number of immigration routes that may be applicable now or in the future, to some of our graduates who do not automatically have the right to work in the UK after the end of their studies.  The UK launched a new immigration system on 1 January 2021.

Existing options are:

Graduate Route – The Graduate Route is a new UK post-study work visa for international students graduating in summer 2021 or later. It will allow students to live and work in the UK for up to two years after an undergraduate or masters degree, or three years after a PhD.  Applicants must apply in the UK.  When you apply, you must have already successfully completed a relevant course in the summer of 2021 or later, and the course must be either

  • an undergraduate degree
  • a Masters degree
  • a PhD degree or other doctoral qualification
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)

A key requirement is that when you apply you have a UK degree or other relevant qualification that you received during your current period of Tier 4 or Student permission.  There are a number of concessions in place so that students who undertook some distance learning overseas due to Covid 19 are not prevented from being eligible for the route.  For details see page 15 of Covid-19: Guidance for Student sponsors, migrants and Short-term students

For further details of the Graduate route please visit the Graduate route section on the UKCISA website.

Other routes and their details can be found at the links below:

Any updates to the details of the above routes are given at:–Advice/Working/Working-after-studies

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