Getting here and getting started

You may still have questions about how you take up your place at Birmingham this year – from delayed qualifications or cancelled exams, through to how you arrive on campus if you’re travelling from outside the UK.  In this section we aim to answer all these questions, and let you know who you can speak to if you have further questions.

We realise that, as a student coming to the UK to study, there are a range of factors which mean you may not be able to join us at the start of the autumn term.

We are considering a number of options to ensure that you have every opportunity to study with us, whether that means a delayed start or a combination of campus and online teaching.

We have emailed our current offer-holders about our plans for September, and have informed of any potential delayed start dates for specific programmes, with an invitation to complete a short preference survey to help to inform our decision-making. We intend to inform our offer-holders of our final decision by 31 July.

Admissions to your programme 

Given the exceptional circumstances this year, we will accept scanned or photographed copies of documentation (certificate and transcripts) to confirm your academic results, rather than you having to provide original copies to confirm your place. You will need to provide original copies once you arrive on campus, but scanned or photographed versions will be accepted through the postgraduate admissions portal to allow you to take up your place.

If for any reason your University results and degree certification is delayed we will accept your final transcript and a letter from your institution confirming successful completion of your studies.

Meeting your English Language requirements

For 2020 our pre-sessional English programmes will run online. You can find out more information and apply for the programme on our Presessional English pages.

For those joining us for 2020 we will accept the following additional tests as evidence of English language proficiency:

  • TOEFL “At Home” Test
  • Duolingo English Test
  • Password English (more information on how to register for this test will be updated soon)
  • Chinese College English Test (CET-6) (please note that this must be accompanied by at least a 6 week Pre-sessional English programme)
  • IELTs Indicator (entry requirements match standard IELTs requirements listed on our English Language requirements pages)

You can find more information on English language requirements from our dedicated webpages.

Receiving your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and applying for your visa

Once you have met all the terms of your offer and your status changes to unconditional accept, we will issue your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) within five days. Once you have received your CAS you will have what you need from us to be able to apply for your visa. However, the situation in your home country may affect your ability to apply for your visa due to Visa Application Centre (VAC) closures. Please check the UK Government website for the status of VACs in your country.

As you begin to prepare your visa application to come and study in the UK, we have collated some useful information:

  • To study a course which is longer than six months in duration you must apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • The International Student Team (IST) have a dedicated visa page which explains in detail how to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa, the documents you need for your visa application, what you can and cannot do on this visa and what to do if your visa is refused.
  • The earliest you can submit your application is three months before your course starts, but you can start planning straightaway by ensuring you have the correct documents and enough funding in your bank account. 
  • To apply for your Tier 4 (General) visa please visit the UK Government website
  • If you are studying a course of less than six months you can apply for a short-term study visa.

As a student who requires a visa to be in the UK, you will need to carry out a Right to Study (RTS) check with us before you start your course. Completing an RTS check is very easy: simply visit the ‘My Right To Study’ webpage, where you will find all the information needed to upload your documents and complete your RTS check online. We recommend that you start the process of uploading these documents as soon as you receive your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). If you have any questions whilst completing the RTS check, please refer to the relevant online guide at ‘My Right To Study’ or contact us via Student Help.

If you need any support with your visa application, the International Student Team (IST) offer lots of advice and guidance.

Important information:

In order for you to arrive in the UK and self-isolate before the start of your course we are recommending that your travel plans allow for you to arrive at the University of Birmingham between 5-7 September 2020.

When you are making your online Tier 4 (General) visa application you will be asked the date you plan to travel to the UK. If you are required to self-isolate, you should enter a date that allows for your arrival here between 5-7 September 2020. By doing so, this means that you will arrive and have completed 14 days of self-isolation in time for Welcome Week starting Monday 21 September.

During this period you'll be able to access a range of support and services. From additional language courses to help you perfect your English, through to online wellbeing support and academic preparation skills, as well as some online socials, we're putting in place a programme of activity to make sure that even in self-isolation you're well prepared for your life and studies in the UK and you start to feel at home. We will also provide those who arrive early for self-isolation with a free welcome food hamper for that period.

Arriving for your programme start date

Our postgraduate students should arrive on time in September, according to the above dates, and must, at the very latest, arrive to campus by the deadline of 31 October 2020. If students cannot arrive in the UK before this deadline (for health reasons, travel restrictions, home Government restrictions for example) then the University will consider ad hoc requests for later arrival on a case by case basis but cannot guarantee that such requests will be approved.

Deferring your place

Postgraduate Taught Programmes

We will be able to consider deferral requests after 1 August 2020, at which point the national and international situation will be clearer. Please be aware that a non-refundable deposit of £1,500 will be payable to secure your place for September 2021.

Postgraduate Research Programmes

The majority of our PhD programmes offer flexible start dates, so this is not normally a problem. We would recommend that you discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance, to ensure that they can accommodate an alternative start date. Once you have agreed a new start date, please contact our Postgraduate Admissions Team with your request.

Pre-departure briefings

Our International Recruitment team will be inviting all offer holders due to start with us in September to pre-departure briefings from late July through to the end of August. These briefings will go through a range of topics, including;

  • What it is like living in the UK and in our home, the City of Birmingham
  • Advice on travelling to the UK
  • Visa information and guidance
  • The latest updates on what we have done to ensure your safety for your arrival onto campus

In addition, our team will also give you some tips on things to pack and things not to pack based on their experience of advising students over the years.

Look out for an invitation to one of these pre-departure briefings, which we will be sending out by email from mid-July onwards.

Can't find an answer? Try our detailed FAQs below:

Will my programme start in September? UPDATED - 29 July, 08:00

All of our programmes will begin in September. However, a number of our programmes have an additional 2021 start. You will have been informed if this applies to your programme.

I have submitted an application to the University for September 2020 start but have not received a response yet. Will the processing of my application be affected by the coronavirus epidemic? REVIEWED - 07 July, 15:00

A decision on your application can take up to 8-12 weeks of submitting your application, we select students with care and your application is likely to be considered by several members of the academic staff. This is provided all of the necessary documents have been submitted.

Please be assured that we are working hard to process every application within the regular timeframe. Admissions will notify you when a decision has been made. 

I cannot book an English language test because centres are currently closed. Will the University offer an alternative way for me to prove my English proficiency? REVIEWED - 07 July, 15:00

The deadlines for September 2020 vary by department but are normally set for the summer period. We are monitoring the situation closely and have developed additional English language testing options.

You can find out more on our English Language requirements pages.

I am unable to submit original documents, as required by the University’s admissions team, because my country is in lockdown and all international postage has been suspended. Have alternative arrangements been put in place? REVIEWED - 07 July, 15:00

Given the exceptional circumstances, we will accept scanned or photographed copies of documentation (certificate and transcripts) to confirm your academic results, rather than you having to provide original copies to confirm your place. You will need to provide original copies once you arrive on campus, but scanned or photographed versions will be accepted through the postgraduate admissions portal to allow you to take up your place.

If for any reason your University results and degree certification is delayed we will accept your final transcript and a letter from your institution confirming successful completion of your studies.

I am unable complete my undergraduate course and/or provide my final transcript because my education has been disrupted (e.g. due to self-isolation) or my university has closed. How will this affect my admission to the University?

The University is currently developing guidance and will keep applicants updated of developments.

How will the pandemic affect the University's relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company? REVIEWED - 07 July, 15:00

The Royal Shakespeare Company and University of Birmingham fully intend for their partnership to continue in the coming academic year (2020-21), but because of delays caused by COVID-19 we are still in the process of finalising these arrangements. Currently, all university activities are due to operate as normal in September 2020. Online provisions are being developed should the pandemic continue to affect campus activities, and activities based in the premises of our partners. We are monitoring the situation closely and will be following government advice.  

If you are a prospective postgraduate student who would like to discuss this further, please contact Sally Delbeke, Partnership Manager:

What if I feel that my research will be significantly impacted by the measures put in place on campus?UPDATED - 08 July, 11:00

We hope that your research and studies will not be impacted significantly by COVID-19. However, if, when you start at Birmingham, you are unable to complete essential research tasks as a result of COVID-19, you will be advised to log the extent of the problem with your supervisor and may be able to apply for either a Leave of Absence (LOA) or extension to your studies. 

I have further questions – how can I find out more information? REVIEWED - 08 July, 12:00

If you have specific questions which aren’t addressed in these FAQs, please join one of our regular live chat sessions where you will be able to connect with a member of our staff. You can find more details of these sessions on our Live Chats page.

Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes

Will ITE programmes still go ahead next year? What if placement schools are operating part time or do not open or cannot host students?

Our 2020 ITE programmes are all going ahead.  Please be assured that the University of Birmingham is planning our 20-21 ITE programmes with great care so that we can offer you an excellent preparation for a career in teaching.  We are ready to respond swiftly to national decisions about schools opening, and are preparing for our programmes to run in a range of scenarios. We are working closely with our partnership schools as we plan and our school based mentors are looking forward to meeting their students as soon as this is possible.

In recent weeks, we have seen some amazing work going on in schools across the country as our committed, talented, resilient and imaginative workforce rise to the enormous challenge of ensuring their pupils are safe, that their basic needs are met and that their education continues. Please do seriously consider a career in teaching - you are joining a wonderful profession.

How will the application and interview process work while the University campus is closed?

You should apply as usual via UCAS Teacher Training. Our tutors will review your application and invite you to interview if you are selected. Interviews are taking place over Skype, and we will send you plenty of advice beforehand about how to prepare. One or more University tutors, school based mentors and teachers from our School Direct lead schools will be involved in your virtual interview. ITE tutors and school partners are really enjoying meeting enthusiastic applicants – in their front rooms and kitchens! - and will put you at your ease in this unusual situation. 

What opportunities will there be to meet tutors and find out more about the programme before I start?

We are keen to get to know you all and to ensure you can also meet your peers. Once you accept an offer on one of our ITE programmes, we will invite you to join our dedicated Facebook group. You will find a number of short films where tutors introduce themselves and you are most welcome to post questions and comments for the whole team. In addition, there will be Welcome Day events online in late June and early July where we will introduce all the tutors, give you information about the programme, give you some pre-course reading and activities to engage in and ensure you have a chance to meet your subject or phase tutor group too. 

I am worried about being able to meet GCSE or degree conditions, what should I do?

We do not anticipate issues with degree awards at this stage. You do not need to have attended a graduation ceremony, but you will need the transcript or other formal communication from your university to say that you have been successful. If you need a GCSE in mathematics, English of science, please look out for further information from about their online exams this summer. 

I have been asked to complete School of Education tasks before I begin. I am concerned that if I fail these I will not be able to start (and I may have resigned my job).

Please do not worry. The only task that we are asking you to complete is to engage with our open access pre-course online learning programme. By undertaking some pre-course tasks and reviewing your learning you will help us to plan carefully for you all in the year ahead. It is not possible to fail this task in any way. 

What happens if I cannot attend the University to complete the DBS process? Will this delay my start?

Applicants who firmly accept an offer of a place will be contacted via email with further information about completing the DBS process.  Please do not send any documentation through the post or visit the campus to present your documentation, as our staff will not be available to receive these.