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If you want to come to the UK as a 'student' it is very likely that you will need to apply for "entry clearance" or a "student visa" before you leave your home country, as the majority of international students need a student visa.
The only students who do not need a student visa, as those nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. If you are from a Commonwealth country, including USA and Canada, you will need to apply for a student visa BEFORE you leave home.
Even if you have 'home' fee status it is important to check whether you need a visa. Some students, particularly those from some British territories, may have home fee status but also require a visa.
The 'Do you need a visa?' UKBA webpages will help you determine whether you need to obtain a visa before you travel to the UK. It also contains guidance on the type of visa that you might need.
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Guide for International Students 2013
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