If you are applying to study in the United Kingdom (UK) from a high-risk country, you will have to participate in a UK credibility interview. The interview ensures that only genuine students likely to complete their course receive a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK. The credibility interview is an integral part of the university’s decision to issue a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) letter, which you will need to apply for a visa.
Studying overseas is a big commitment, and the university wants to know that you have done the right research before making such a big decision. Even if you don’t have to take the credibility interview, preparing for it can help with your visa interview.
While it can seem intimidating, here’s how you can prepare for the UK credibility interview and pass it with flying colours!
Why Do I Have to Complete a UK Credibility Interview?
In the past, UK universities have seen individuals posing as students come to the UK intending to work rather than study. Upon arrival in the UK, they either fail to register at the university or register and don’t attend class. The UK credibility interview helps a university determine whether your intentions to study in the UK are genuine.
When Will the Credibility Interview Take Place?
The university’s admissions office will reach out to schedule an interview:
- After issuing a conditional offer
- Six months before the course start date, based on the university’s availability
If for some reason you cannot attend the interview, be sure to let the university know as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for it to be rescheduled.
The UK credibility interview is a 20 to 30 minute one-on-one interview between you and a representative from the university admissions office. The questions will vary by university, but we’ve included some sample questions below. Depending on COVID-19 restrictions, it could be either:
The university will tell you in advance which method they will use.
The credibility interview also allows the university to gauge your communication skills. With that in mind, you should speak clearly and concisely, but not rush your responses. If you feel that the interviewer is speaking too quickly, you can ask them to slow down or repeat their question.
What Does the University Want to Know?
Generally, the university wants to know more about your:
- Immigration history in the UK and other countries
- Education history and plans for study and post-study
- Personal and financial circumstances
- Reasons for coming to the UK and choosing that particular university
How to Prepare
Below are a few tips that will help you ace the UK credibility interview:
- Avoid Generic Answers
Avoid vague responses. Make sure you speak specifically about the course and how it aligns with your goals.
- Know Your Responsibilities as a Tier 4 Visa Holder
You should review your responsibilities as a Tier 4 visa holder before the interview. This information can be found on the UK Council of International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.
- Understand the Program Content
Your answers should demonstrate your knowledge of the program’s content, especially the names of course modules. Review the course information in case the interviewer asks you about it.
- Avoid Discussing Dual Intentions
Although the UK plans to launch a post-study work visa in Summer 2021, avoid discussing any plans for living and working in the UK after you graduate. It may be a red flag to the university that your intentions are not genuine.
- Communicate Course Motivation
Demonstrate your motivation for enrolling in the course and how it will help set you up for future success. Think of it as a job interview, and establish a five-year career plan, which should include pursuing a career in your home country.
- Explain How You’ll Support Yourself Financially
It’s important to speak to how you will support yourself financially while studying in the UK. You will need to know the amount you will require each year and the cost of your accommodations and other living expenses. Although you can work a part-time job under a Tier 4 visa, you should not be relying on that income for your maintenance funds. If a family member intends to support you, know how they earn a living and their yearly income.
While questions vary by university, the following are some typical questions the university may ask during the credibility interview:
- Can you please provide a brief about yourself?
- Why do you want to study in the UK rather than your home country or another country?
- Why this specific university over other options?
- What is the location of the university?
- What are your course modules?
- How many credits are required to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree?
- What are the tuition fees for the course you have chosen?
- Who will fund your studies?
- Can you tell me how much your living expenses will be?
- What is the annual income of your parents?
- What have you been doing during your study gap?
- What will you do after completing your studies in the UK?
- Do you have any previous visa refusals?
- What are the facilities of the university, and what is the university’s ranking?
It’s time for some roleplaying! Let’s take a closer look at a few of the questions above, providing both “good” and “bad” responses for each.
Q. Why do you want to study in the UK rather than your home country or another country?
Bad answer: “I heard the UK is a nice place, and people are friendly. I can speak English there. I always wanted to see London, and I like Premier League football. Also, in my country, job opportunities for graduates are limited.”
Good answer: “I’m studying engineering, and the UK has a strong reputation for excellence in teaching engineering degrees. Once I graduate, I should be able to get a good job back in my home country and have a strong future because of my UK degree. I have a longstanding interest in British culture, and I’m really interested in seeing the galleries and museums in the UK.”
The difference: The first answer is far too generic. The final sentence contains a big red flag: “In my country, job opportunities are limited for graduates.” It implies that the student may want to remain in the UK after graduating. On the other hand, the second response focuses on the specific course and how it will help the student land a good job back in their home country.
Q. Why this specific university over other options?
Bad answer: “My cousin went to this university, and he said it was good.”
Good answer: “This university is well-known in my country, and its reputation will help me get a great job when I return. The degree subject has a good national ranking, and the university has a strong reputation for teaching. I looked at other universities [provide the names], but the course modules they offer aren’t as helpful for my future goals.”
The difference: It’s common for students to say that they know someone who studies at the university, which is why they want to study there. Instead, talk about the university’s reputation and how studying there will help set you up for future success. Also, be specific about why this university was more suitable than others you considered.
Q. What will you do after completing your studies in the UK?
Bad answer: “I will try and see if there is a job I can get in the UK as I don’t want to return to my home country.”
Good answer: “I am studying business, and I want to work for a large multinational such as [name(s)]. One of the units in my course is on Business Analytics. I want to get a job as a business analyst when I get back to my home country. The salary for this position is approximately £1,200 per month, whereas a regular graduate role pays about £700 per month.”
The difference: Again, the first answer implies that the student wants to remain and work in the UK after graduating. The second response specifically mentions a large multinational back in their home country where the student envisions themselves working, how their course will help them obtain a specific job, and how much it pays.
Q. What have you been doing during your study gap?
Bad answer: “I’ve been looking for a job, but I haven’t found one, so I’ve been staying at home. Now I’ve decided to study abroad.”
Good answer: “I have been working in an entry-level role in a bank since graduating. But, I feel that I will advance further in the industry if I get a degree from the UK, and that is why I want to study there. When I graduate, I hope to return to the same company and get a promotion.”
The difference: In the first answer, the student cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for how they spent their study gap, and the university may have reason to suspect that the student will remain in the UK after graduating. The second answer demonstrates the professional experience the student gained during their study gap. It also shows that they have done considerable research into the program and how studying in the UK aligns with their professional goals back in their home country.
Q. What are the facilities at the university, and what is the university’s ranking?
Bad answer: “The facilities are good, and the ranking is high. It’s much better than the university in my hometown. I’m looking forward to seeing the facilities when I arrive.”
Good answer: “The university is ranked at number 20 in The Guardian university league tables and in the top 50 in the Times Higher Education league tables. Also, the business school where I will study is accredited by the AACSB, EQUIS, and AAMBA, making it one of the best in the UK. They have recently invested £25 million in upgrading their facilities and have improved the library and sports halls. Now they have received five stars from QS ranking for their facilities.”
The difference: As you can see, the second response is much more detailed and specific about the university’s rankings and facilities. You can often find this information on the university’s website. Or, search Google News for recent articles on the university, upgrades to its facilities, inclusion in top university rankings, etc.
After the Credibility Interview
Once you pass the UK credibility interview, you will pay your deposit. The university will issue your Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) letter approximately three months before starting your course, which will allow you to apply for a Tier 4 student visa.
With a little practice and some preparation, you will pass the UK credibility interview and be one step closer to achieving your dream of studying in the UK!