• A group of international students waving flags showing their nationalities.
    Make friends from all over the world
    AND get a first rate education
  • Beautiful Scottish landscape photograph
    blue background
    Scottish highland wilderness
    mountains, lochs, islands, sea
  • Image showing three pipers outside our campus preparing to pipe graduating students into the graduation marquee
    Scottish culture:
    ceilidhs, bag pipes, kilts , Burns' Night, Hogmanay
    Explore Scotland's history, heritage and living culture
  • Aerial image showing SAMS campus on the beach at sunset
    Study in a world-leading research institute
    hands-on, fieldwork, research opportunities
    Find out more about SAMS
  • Image showing two international postgraduate students on the SAMS campus
    International diversity
    ...more perspectives deepen understanding
    Studying abroad broadens the mind
  • Image of SAMS research vessel with rainbow behind
    Land of the rainbow
    ...yes it rains, making the land green and lush

Information for international students

What our international students say about SAMS

As a international student, the entire world is open to you. So, what can Scotland offer?

First of all we are part of the UK, which remains the most recommended English-speaking destination by overseas students, and UK higher education qualifications are highly regarded by employers. But there is so much more that recommends Scotland!

Scotland is a small country with 790 islands, the UK's largest mountains and a lot of water, from sea and freshwater lochs, to streams, waterfalls - and an abundance of rainbows. With a low population density outside the urban central belt, there is much of this beautiful natural space in the Highlands and Islands.

Scottish culture is very much alive: our parties are ceilidhs, for special occasions our men wear kilts, and we live on whisky, salmon, haggis and a lot worse... 

The Scottish people are open and hospitable - you are not likely to feel lonely here and will feel at home quickly. Life here still happens at a very human scale and pace.

The landscape offers the most stunning views and an extravaganza of possible outdoor activities. Here is where adventurers flourish!

For a small nation with a population of just over 5.2 million, there are many famous Scots who have been contributing to progress in the world: there are explorers like David Livingstone, political leaders like William Wallace ('Braveheart') and Robert the Bruce, poets like Rabbie Burns, thinkers like David Hume, scientists like James Clerk Maxwell (electro-magnetism), Alexander Fleming (penicillin) and Joseph Lister (antiseptic), inventors like John Logie Baird (TV) and Alexander Graham Bell (phone), economists like Adam Smith, sportspeople like Andy Murray and Sir Alex Ferguson, actors like Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy and Gerard Butler and writers like JK Rowling (Harry Potter) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes). And they all have left footprints that you will be able to explore as a foreign student in Scotland!

SAMS is among the oldest oceanographic organisations in the world. Our founding father, Sir John Murray, even coined the word 'oceanography'. We are an independent research institute interested in all aspects of marine science from physics, chemistry, geology and biology to resource management, policy and business. We work to understand how the marine system really works and how we can benefit from marine resources without compromising the health of the ocean realm.

There are around 150 staff at SAMS - themselves from 20 different nationalities - and another 160 or so students, studying both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The scale of SAMS is small enough to know everyone if you want to and for it to be an extended 'family' yet large enough for constantly new initiatives, adventures and connections.

Studying in a research laboratory gives students unprecedented access to expert staff, opportunities to gain research experience and to build up professional networks as well as access to outstanding research facilities. Around the world there are very few places offering such an outstanding learning experience.

Our location on the beach of one of the cleanest and most diverse marine environments in Europe allows all our clever and curious sea lovers to experience and appreciate the ocean realm we study in a holistic way.

All our courses are taught in English and to succeed students thus must comprehend, read and write English to a high standard. We therefore only accept students with sufficient command of the English language. No advanced language learning programmes are available at SAMS. Locally, personalised English lessons as well as editing services are available from Margaret Powell-Joss (07747 300 062).

Language requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate students vary slightly, and we accept a variety of language qualifications. Check out the university website for details...

SAMS and the University of the Highlands and Islands warmly welcome students from all over the world. We celebrate the diversity and depth of learning that are possible when people from different cultural backgrounds come together to learn about our global ocean and actively support an international culture at SAMS.

Unfortunately, however, international students may have to get through the immigration procedure of the United Kingdom before we can do so. We will offer you any help we can while you manouvre through this process.

Do I need a visa?

If you are an international student, you are likely to require a visa to enter the UK and study here.

EU, EAA and Switzerland nationals entering the UK after 1 January 2021 are required to apply for a study visa. Only those with settled or pre-settled status in the UK do not require a visa to study. 

Visa and immigration information for students

UK Visas and Immigration 

UK Council for International Student Affairs

Please check out the university website for the detailed process.

UK universities are international communities and are determined to remain so. EU and international staff and students are an integral part of life at SAMS. We will continue to welcome students from the EU.

The UK has voted in a referendum to leave the UK. Although the majority of Scottish voters voted to remain, Scotland is bound by the UK negotiations as part of the UK.

At this time there is no certainty about the changes for EU staff and students as a result of the Brexit vote. But until the exit negotiations have been completed, the UK remains a member of the EU with all the same rights and obligations as all other member states.

While the UK remains in the EU, EU students pay the same fees as home students and will be eligible for tuition fee loans and grants. Students starting their courses in 2019 will study in the UK like in any other European country with regard to funding. This applies to the full duration of their course, even if the UK may exit the EU during this period (read more...). It is likely but not guaranteed that this arrangement will continue for students wanting to start studying in Scotland in 2020.

Course fees payable by those starting their studies once the UK has left the EU will depend on the deal that the UK government agrees with the EU.

Uncertainty remains about potential future Visa requirement for EU students.

For latest developments please check out the UK Council for International Student Affairs and University of the Highlands and Islands website.