Information for International Students

Allows international students who require a visa to come and study in the UK for a course of up to 6 months. If you are a visa national, you must apply for this type of visa online before you travel to the UK and attend an appointment at a visa application centre.

Click here to check if you will require a visa to come to the UK to study for up to 6 months.

A Standard Visitor visa costs £115 for up to 6 months.  The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

Once you have completed and submitted your course application form and this has been approved by us, you may contact Gem-A Education ( to request a letter to support your visa application process.

Further information on how to apply for a standard visitor visa and eligibility requirements can be found here.

Non-visa nationals are not required to apply for a visa to visit the UK but will still need to meet the eligibility criteria here. You may be asked questions at the UK border about your eligibility and the activities you plan to do whilst in the UK.

Gem-A’s London and Online Distance Learning courses are taught in English unless otherwise indicated. Most students, where English is their second language, will need to submit proof of their language ability. Due to the theoretical and scientific nature of the courses, Gem-A requires students to have at least a Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level C1 or equivalent to be accepted onto the Gemmology Foundation, Gemmology Diploma and Diamond Diploma courses (this does not apply to Diamond practical certificate courses). Please see individual entry requirements for each course. 

Below, you will find the main English language tests and the accepted qualification levels. All qualifications submitted must be no older than 5 years. 


   Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) Accepted Levels at Gem-A 
Qualification Summary Further information C1 – Proficient User  C2 – Proficient User 

IELTS Qualification:  

IELTS Academic  


The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English speaking environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training. Level 6.5 - 8  Level 8.0-9.0  
IELTS General The IELTS General Training test is for those who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training programs. The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts.  Level 6.5 - 8 in reading and writing Level 8.0-9.0 in reading and writing 

Cambridge Qualifications: 

C1 Advanced 


The C1 Advanced (formerly known as Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)) is a qualification to help students prepare for employment and university. 

Scored on a scall of 180-199.  

185-190 = IELTS 7.0 

191-199 = IELTS 7.5 



C2 Proficiency  The C2 Proficiency (formally known as Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE)) demonstrates the skills to communicate with the fluency and sophistication of a highly competent English speaker, suitable for study or work in a professional or academic environment. - 

Scored on a scale of 200-230 


200-204 = IELTS 8.0 

205-208 = IELTS 8.5 

209-230 =IELSTS 9.0 



TOEFL iBT  The TOEFL iBT test measures a test taker's ability to combine listening, reading, speaking and writing skills for use in an English-speaking academic environment.  Resources for the TOEFL iBT Test ( 95 or over (total)
24+ (reading)
22+ (listening)
25+ (speaking)
24+ (writing) 
114 or over (total)
29+ (reading)
28+ (listening)
28+ (speaking)
29+ (writing) 

ISE: Evidence of English language skills for study (Trinity) 


Trinity's ISE is a contemporary multi-skills qualification that evidences English language communication skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) required by universities and promotes the development of other transferable skills for study. ISE III Merit or Distinction  ISE IV Pass 

PTE Academic* 


PTE Academic is a computer-based English test that assesses academic-level speaking, writing, reading and listening skills for students wishing to study at university.  

PTE Academic English test | Pearson PTE 

*Gem-A only accepts PTE Academic taken at a test centre. We do not accept PTE Academic Online, PTE Core or PTE Home. 

Score of 66 or above Score of 83 or above 
TOEIC The TOEIC Listening and Reading test and the Speaking and Writing test assesses English-language skills for the workplace.  

About the TOEIC Listening and Reading Test ( 

About the TOEIC Speaking and Writing Test ( 

490+ (listening)  

455+ (reading) 

180+ (speaking and writing) 

+ reference letter* 




For students who hold a qualification equivalent to a UK degree or higher in one of the majority English-speaking countries, we can accept a certificate or letter of completion on the University’s headed paper signed and dated by the head/admissions officer. If the degree is a non-scientific subject, then we may require a reference from your course tutor. 

Gem-A does not offer English as a second language (ESL) instruction. 

*Gem-A may request a reference letter to accompany the language qualification. The referee must be a previous tutor/teacher or employer who is not related and can comment on the student’s level of English and their suitability to study on the level of their chosen course.   

Majority English speaking countries include:

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada (if instruction was in English), Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Ireland and the UK.  


Students who do not have their qualification listed above can contact the education office at to discuss their application or for further information. 

Take special care of your passport, travel documents and tickets and keep them with you in a safe place. Before you travel, take a photocopy of all the pages of your passport (including the front and back covers) showing your details (name, photograph, passport number and its date and place of issue) and all the pages that have any entry clearances or immigration stamps on them, and pack this separately from your passport.

Bring a copy of the letter that Gem-A sent to you to support your visa application (if applicable), as you may be required to show this to immigration staff at the airport.

Bring enough cash to cover your immediate needs (about £250). If possible, your cash should include some small denomination bank notes (£5 and £10). Alternatively, bring a credit or debit card, if you have one, to pay for things such as train tickets and hotel bills. Most UK businesses now accept the major card providers, Visa and Mastercard.

If you are using a taxi to travel from the airport, always make sure that you use a licensed one. Before you get in, you can check whether the taxi is licensed by looking at the back of it to ensure an official licence plate is attached. You should never agree to travel in an unlicensed taxi with an unlicensed driver.  From airports, you can travel safely in one of the UK’s famous ‘black cabs’. Never agree to travel with someone who approaches you inside the airport terminal unless you have made a specific arrangement to be met by a taxi company.

Alternatively, if you are flying into Gatwick, Heathrow, Stanstead or Luton, you can get the express train directly from the airport into Central London.

Some visitors travelling to the UK will be required to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). It will permit you to travel to the UK, and it will be electronically linked to your passport. Please click on the link below to check if this applies to you. If you have obtained a visa to travel to the UK, you will not require an ETA.

If you have travelled to the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa and want to travel to European countries whilst you are temporarily living here, then you will normally be required to apply for a Schengen visa at the appropriate Schengen embassy in your home country.

When you travel to England, you:

  • Do not need to complete a UK passenger locator form before you travel
  • Do not need to take any COVID-19 tests before you travel or after you arrive
  • Do not need to quarantine when you arrive

This applies whether you are vaccinated or not.  It also includes people who are transiting through England.

Other countries may have rules about what you need to do to leave the country to travel to England. You should check travel advice for the country you are travelling from.

These rules are subject to change which could be at short notice, so please check the UK government website Travel to England rules

If you’re a visitor from an EU country and you fall ill or have a medical emergency during your stay in London, you can still use a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Your EHIC will cover you for treatment that becomes medically necessary during a visit to the UK until you return to your home country.  It also covers you for the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions.

If you are from outside of the EU and UK, you are advised to take out medical insurance as you will be liable for NHS charges for the treatment you receive in the UK except in a medical emergency and this is limited. Some countries have a reciprocal agreement with the UK which may entitle you to some free healthcare on the NHS even if your course is less than six months, but you should seek advice from the health authorities in your home country about what treatment will be covered.

If you're in England as a visitor and need to see a General Practitioner (GP), you can temporarily register with a GP. You need to be in the area for more than 24 hours but less than 3 months. If you are unable to register with a GP, but require support/advice for a medical situation, you should call 111

For more information about registering with a GP whilst you are in the UK, Click here

If you receive ongoing medical treatment and/or medication, obtain a letter from the doctor in your home country (in English) with the details as it may be useful for your new doctor. Check whether you can take your medication on your flight and through customs.

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 999 and ask for an Ambulance or go directly to your local hospital emergency department.  You can find your local hospital or emergency department by clicking this link Accident and Emergency services and inputting your postcode. If you need one of the other emergency services, call 999 and ask for the Fire Department or Police.

Urgent Care:

If your medical emergency is urgent but not life-threatening, you can:

  • Dial 111 and request medical advice from the NHS
  • Request an urgent appointment at your GP (doctor) surgery
  • Attend an NHS Walk-in Centre
  • To report a non-urgent crime call 101

You can contact one of the helplines or organisations listed below if you experience mental health issues whilst staying in the UK.  If you are feeling depressed, we also strongly advise that you make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible.  If you do not have a GP, you can call 111 (available 24 hours per day).


The Samaritans is a UK national telephone, email and visitor service for anyone experiencing emotional distress:  

Emails will be replied to within 24 hours, email

The Central London Branch of the Samaritans is based at 46 Marshall Street, London W1F 9BF (Visitors are welcome from 9 am to 9 pm daily). Tel: 020 7734 2800

SANEline is a national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by poor mental health.  They are open every day of the year from 4.30 pm to 10.30 pmTelephone: 0300 304 7000

Shout – Crisis Text Line offers free text support 24/7 across the UK.  If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, text HOME to 741741.  The first two responses you will receive will be automated and will tell you that you are being connected with a Crisis Counsellor, who will then invite you to share a bit more of what is troubling you.

The Crisis Counsellor is a trained volunteer not a professional and can provide support but not medical advice.

Rethink Advice & Information Service - Call: 0300 5000 927 charged at local rate

The line is normally open from 9:30am - 4pm Monday to Friday.

The Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service offers practical help on issues such as the Mental Health Act, community care, welfare benefits, criminal justice and carers’ rights. They also offer general help on living with mental illness, medication, care and treatment.

Whilst the UK is a safe place to live, work and study, there is no harm in being safety conscious and making sure that you behave in a responsible manner to reduce any risk of harm being done to you or your belongings

No matter where you are living or for how long, these simple safety tips will help keep you safe during your stay.


Travel documents

Take special care of your passport, travel documents and tickets and keep them with you in a safe place. Before you travel, take a photocopy of all the pages of your passport (including the front and back covers) showing your details (name, photograph, passport number and its date and place of issue) and all the pages that have any entry clearances or immigration stamps on them, and pack this separately from your passport.


Be careful when using ATM’s (Automated Teller Machine).

Stay attentive when you’re about to use an ATM and observe your surroundings in case you see any unusual behaviour.  If you do, do not use the ATM or ensure you have friends that can stay close to you whilst withdrawing your money.


Avoiding online scams and fraud

Report misleading websites, emails, phone numbers, phone calls or text messages you think may be suspicious to


Do not give out private information (such as bank details or passwords), reply to text messages, download attachments, or click on any links in emails if you’re not sure they’re genuine.


To protect yourself from the activities of online fraudsters, read further information here:


Avoid dark streets during the night. Make sure you do not walk alone during the night in darkly lit and empty streets.  Call a licensed cab or use public transport.


Keep your belongings in separate places.  This is especially important when it comes to money or credit cards.  Keep your money in your wallet but make sure to leave some aside in another place as well.  Or you might consider placing cash in the wallet and credit cards elsewhere. Having at least one of them with you in case your wallet gets stolen is invaluable.


Traffic safety in London

Remember that in the UK cars drive on the left side of the road. This is different to many other countries in the world and visitors and students new to London and the UK need to take care when crossing the road. The roads are marked with 'look left' or 'look right' to help you cross safely. Many crossings also operate with traffic lights, so be sure to wait for the green pedestrian light before crossing.

As an international student coming to the UK, you can expect to pay living costs (accommodation, food, household bills, mobile phone, public transport costs, etc) of at least £1350 - £1600 per month in London.


Costs will vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose to live in and the location.  The nearer central London you are, the more expensive the accommodation is likely to be.


If you are struggling to find accommodation whilst you are living in London, listed below are a few online student accommodation and housing providers. These websites offer shared accommodation, single rooms and studio options with flexibility of length of stay.


When you first arrive in London, you may decide to stay in a hotel until you have secured more longer-term accommodation. Hotel rooms in London can be expensive, but some of the more affordable ones like Hatton Garden HotelPremier Inn and Travelodge offer comfortable basic rooms for short stays and have several locations both in central London and outer London.


Mobile Phones


You may wish to purchase a mobile phone in the UK.  There are two main options: ‘pay as you go’ where you buy the phone and separately purchase ‘top-up’ credit when you need it. Or a contract where the phone is often free or considerably discounted and you pay a monthly fee for an allocated amount of calls, texts and mobile data usage.  There are many network providers to choose from so it is advisable to undertake some research online or visit a mobile phone shop to discuss your options. You may be able to use your current mobile phone in the UK.  Check with your current mobile phone provider before travelling to check that the phone will work in the UK and whether there are any additional costs.  Alternatively, if your phone is ‘unlocked’ and compatible, you could buy an international or UK SIM card to use your existing phone.



Public Holidays


There are normally eight public holidays in the UK known as ‘bank holidays’ when offices, banks, and many shops close. Public transport may also be more limited. Gem-A London is closed during all bank holidays and staff will be unavailable. Please note that your Assessment deadlines may still fall on these dates. Click on the link to confirm the dates of UK Bank Holidays

There are various ways of travelling around London depending on where you live and what mode of transport you prefer.  You can either use your Contactless bank payment card or an Oyster card to pay for your travel.

Oyster cards are electronic smartcards that are used to pay for public transport in London.  Visitor Oyster cards, Oyster cards and contactless bank payment cards are the cheapest way to travel around London.  You can buy a Visitor Oyster card online before you arrive in London, or an Oyster card at TfL Visitor Centres, stations and Oyster ticket shops.

To use an Oyster card, touch the card on the yellow reader at the gates as you enter and end your journey on tubes or trains.  You only need to touch in as you enter your journey on buses.

For more information on Oyster and Contactless cards, click here

London Underground/The Tube

The London Underground rail network, also called "the Tube," is a great way to travel to, from and around central London. The nearest tube stations to Gem-A London are Farringdon and Chancery Lane. View the Underground map here.

Touch your Oyster/contactless card in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end on yellow card readers to pay the right fare.

London Overground

The nearest train station to Gem-A London is Farringdon (a Thameslink station with tube connections).  We are also only a short walk or bus ride from other mainline stations like Blackfriars. View the London overground map here

You can also view the Thameslink stations map here

Touch your Oyster/contactless card in at the start of the journey and touch out at the end on yellow card readers to pay the right fare.


London Buses are also great for travel around London, especially if you want to see some of the sights on the way! All bus stops have a sign showing the stop name, the route numbers which serve the stop, and information about which destinations the bus is heading towards. Some bus stops have digital information boards advising of the next scheduled bus. Press the bell before your stop to give the driver plenty of notice that you want to get off the bus.

The buses that travel nearest to Gem-A London are 341, 40, 46, 521, 63, 8.

To plan your journey or for more information on bus travel around London, view here.

Touch your Oyster/contactless card at the start of the journey on the yellow card reader on the bus.  Do not touch out at the end of the journey.


Cycling around London can be fun, as long as you follow the cycling safety rules. You can use your own bicycle or hire one of the Santander bicycles for just £1.65 for 30 minutes of cycling.  


When cycling through London's busy traffic, it is essential to wear a helmet and to wear reflective clothing and make sure your lights are working when cycling after dark.


When attending for classes, lab classes or workshops, you will be able to leave your bicycle in the cycle-racks outside the Gem-A London building.  Remember to bring a lock to secure it whilst you are in the building.


View more information about cycling and Santander bicycle hire here


Transport for London (TfL) has developed some fun leisure routes. They are a great way to see London at your own pace and have been designed to be done in short, easy stages.



There are two types of taxis in England, the black taxis with meters that can be hailed in the street as well as minicabs, a cheaper alternative which you must call by phone (however, you must make sure you are calling licensed minicabs, since those from unlicensed providers are potentially unsafe). Taxis are an efficient way to travel from one point to the other if you have a lot of luggage or want to get somewhere faster, however, they can be expensive. Click this link to find out more about taxis and minicabs.


Uber is just one of the licensed minicab services available in London. You can download the Uber app from the App store or Google Play, then create an account with your email address and mobile phone number.  A payment method is also needed before you can request a trip.

When you are not attending your on-site classes, lab classes or workshops, there are plenty of places to visit in London, which are all a short walk or bus or tube ride from Gem-A London. Below are just a few suggestions:


Discover London's Historic Diamond District at Hatton Garden. A short walk from Gem-A London and Farringdon and Chancery Lane stations, London's renowned district of Hatton Garden is bustling with fine jewellery stores, coffee shops, Leather Lane Market and some of London's most revered food stalls.


Goldsmiths Centre a 3-minute walk from Farringdon station is the UK's leading charity for the professional training of goldsmiths and a community for design, creativity and craftsmanship.


London Silver Vaults is located in the heart of London, in Chancery Lane, a short walk from Gem-A London, Farringdon and Chancery Lane stations. Providing the largest retail selection of antique and contemporary silver, jewellery and luxury watches in the world.


The Natural History Museum is one of three major museums located on Exhibition Road, London, the others being the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.


The Natural History Museum is a museum that exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. For gemmology students, the museum holds a vast collection of rocks, minerals, meteorites and ores.  You can explore 500,000 rocks, gems and minerals.  The Victoria and Albert Museum has one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of jewellery in the world.


The nearest station for these museums is South Kensington tube station. General admission to all three museums is free, although you may be required to book an advance ticket online to guarantee entry at the time you want. There may also be charges to enter special exhibitions, so check the museum websites in advance of your visit.


Tower of London is a World heritage site. Explore London’s iconic castle and get up close to the Crown Jewels.  The nearest tube station is Tower Hill.


Buckingham Palace is recognised around the world as the home of the monarch, the focus of national and royal celebrations, as well as the backdrop to the regular Changing of the Guard ceremony. You can explore the magnificent State Rooms which are open to visitors for 10 weeks each summer.

You may be interested in visiting the Houses of Parliament where they offer various tours and a programme of talks and events, and where you will be able to see Big Ben the iconic silhouette that is instantly recognisable and one of the most instagrammed landmarks on the planet.


Or perhaps you will try and take in as many of the London historic landmarks by taking a River Cruise down the Thames. If you’re not afraid of heights, take in the sights on the London Eye the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel overlooking the River Thames.


You can access these landmarks via a short walk from Green Park and Westminster underground and Victoria overground/underground stations.


For other top attractions for visitors to see and do whilst in London, Visit london