Hi there! How is everyone? This week is still an exam week, and I have three more exams coming up in these two weeks. As you might have known, this time, we are having online final exams due to the COVID-19 situation. Hence there are slight changes in the exam format and time for the sake of international students who are currently in different time zones. For example, for modules that require essay writing in the final exam, the exam questions will be posted at 11am on that day and we will have to complete it within 24 hours and upload the pdf/word files in the assignment folder on Surreylearn. For MCQ exam, the test will be available for 24 hours, but we have to finish it within the allocated time (e.g. 2hrs 20min for 100 MCQs). By the way, we got an email from the chief student officer saying that a hybrid teaching model will be used for 2020/2021 academic year, which means that we will have a mixture of online lectures and assessments, and some face-to-face seminars or practicals. I believe that the density of classrooms will be reduced as well (e.g. there will be fewer students in a classroom/lecture hall).
Alright, back to the topic. Once you have submitted all the required documents via UCAS, what do you need to do before the departure to the UK? Generally, you have to wait for the admission department to reply on your application status, some universities send you a reply in a few weeks’ time, some may spend about one or two months to reply. The admission department will give you either a conditional or unconditional offer if you meet their academic requirement. A conditional offer generally means that the university will offer you a place in your chosen course if you submit further evidence they require (e.g. your IELTS result, high school result slip etc.). On the other hand, an unconditional offer means that you have fulfilled their requirement and you can now proceed to the next stage: deciding whether you would like to accept the offer. If you have accepted the offer, you may need to pay a certain percent of the tuition fee, as a deposit to secure the place. Then, the university will confirm your admission and issue a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for studies) letter to you.
Then, you may start to apply for a UK Tier 4 Student Visa. My advice, please apply for the visa as soon as you got the CAS letter, it’s a lengthy application process, and many of my friends spend much money for express application just because that their flights to the UK are in a few days but they haven’t got their passport and visas back from the immigration department. All the application processes are done in Kuala Lumpur, so you may consider spending a night in KL if you’re from other states (e.g. Johor). First, you will have to undergo a Tuberculosis (TB) test in the approved centres/hospitals by the UK Visa and Immigration Departments. From my knowledge, there are two approved centres in Kuala Lumpur: Life Care Diagnostic Medical Centre (I went to this centre), and Health Screening Centre Gleneagles. There are some more approved centres in Sabah and Sarawak as well. However, the medical centres are always busy because there are hundreds or thousands of students require the TB test to apply for student visas. Therefore, book an appointment in advance and don’t miss the appointment or you may not be able to get your visa before your departure.
After you have got the TB test result, you can now start applying for your visa. Firstly, you have to book an appointment at VFS Global Malaysia, which is the official partner of UK Visa and Immigration department in Malaysia and the only visa processing centre in Malaysia. I remember that VFS Global Malaysia is located in the MCA building in KL. You will have to bring original and printed forms of documents to be checked by the officer. The documents include your CAS letter, your TB test result, passport, a passport-sized photo and a bank statement of your parents (proving that you are able to pay your tuition fees). The officer may ask you some questions and they will take you a photo of you and take our thumbprint. After that, they will keep all the documents you submitted (including your passport) and send the whole application pack to the UK Visa and Immigration department in Manila of the Philippines to be processed and then send back to VFS Global Malaysia. Then, if you are living far away from KL (just like me), you can opt to pay for a courier service so that the whole application pack will be posted to your address by courier. (The officer will ask you whether to post by courier and you may need to fill a form). The normal process may take 15 working days. However if you opt to do express application (paying for a much higher price), you may get your visa in 5-7 working days.
Well, and the visa application process is done! At the meantime, you can also start looking for student accommodation. You may have to pay for student insurance during the visa application process too. Haha, start saving your money now, since you will have to spend a lot (at least RM1000) in the application to the university in the UK 😊
Alright, see you next week！Have a nice day!