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Understand the Credibility Interview to Study in UK Universities

As part of the application process to study in UK universities, you may need to sit for some interviews. These include both the Pre-CAS Interview and the Credibility Interview. Prospective UK student applicants may confuse the two. While both interviews may be necessary for you to successfully get a UK student visa, there are some important differences between the two.

In this blog, Gradstar Global experts break down these differences, as well as necessary tips to ace your interviews to study in the UK.

What is the Difference Between the Pre-CAS and Credibility Interviews?

The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is an electronic record you need when applying for the UK Student Visa. Before issuing the CAS, universities may require students to sit for a Pre-CAS credibility-style interview.

These interviews may be mandatory, as part of your university’s obligation as a licensed student sponsor to ensure that they only endorse ‘genuine students’. The interview will examine:

  • the authenticity of students’ motivations to study in UK universities
  • their immigration history
  • personal and family background
  • finances
  • future plans
  • ability in the English language, etc.

All of this is to ensure that only students with the genuine intention to study in the UK, who aim to lawfully abide by the terms and conditions of their UK student visa, receive the right authorizations.

While the university conducts the Pre-CAS Interview, the UK Home Office is responsible for the Credibility Interview. Typically, you will sit for this interview on the same day you visit a visa application center to provide your biometrics. This happens after you apply for a UK Student Visa, once you receive the CAS from your university.

What is the Pre-CAS Interview?

Once you accept an offer to study at a UK university, the next step is to apply for your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is an electronic record the university generates for the UK Home Office confirming that they enrolled you into one of their programs. The record contains:

  • Your CAS Number – a unique 14-digit reference number
  • The beginning and end dates of your program
  • License number of your Student Sponsor (the university)
  • Address of your Student Sponsor
  • Address where you will be studying
  • Confirmation of your English proficiency
  • How much your program costs
  • The fees you paid
  • Eligibility requirements you met to qualify for your program
  • Personal details – including your name and passport number

Your university will link you up to CAS Shield, an online self-service portal where you will upload and cross-check all relevant information and documents. The university will verify all your details and supporting documents before issuing you the CAS. Part of the verification process, to validate all the information you included in your application, is the Pre-CAS Interview.

Not all universities require you to sit for the Pre-CAS interview. If you do receive an invitation, clearing the Pre-CAS Interview is a must to secure the CAS. Without this, you can’t apply for the UK Student Visa.

What to Expect at the Pre-CAS Interview

The Pre-CAS Interview, an online session, will typically take around 30 to 40 minutes. The questions the university representative conducting this interview will ask can cover:

  • Personal details like your date of birth and passport number
  • The university, including why you chose it, its address, the campus you will be studying in
  • Your program, for example, why you chose it, how long it is, specific modules and assessment methods, etc.
  • Your plans for the future e.g., what you plan to do once you complete your program
  • Accommodation, including where you plan to live while you study in the UK
  • Finances, including how much your program costs, how you are funding your studies, etc.

How students answer these questions gives interviewers a clearer idea of their genuine intentions to study in UK universities. For example, if you can clearly answer questions about your program and how you are funding your studies, it is a sign of thorough research and preparation to complete it. On the other hand, if you are unsure about what you are studying, how much it costs, or where your university is, this can raise some doubt about your intentions.

Alongside making sure that your answers and your supporting documents validate each other, your interviewer will also gauge your English capability. A certain level of proficiency in English is mandatory for both your university and visa applications to study in the UK.

What is the Credibility Interview?

The Credibility Interview is part of the visa application process covering some of the same grounds as the Pre-CAS Interview. Both aim to verify the details of students’ applications and intentions to study in UK universities. Where your university conducts the Pre-CAS Interview, the UK Home Office conducts the Credibility Interview.

These online interviews take place at Visa Application Centers (VACs), generally on the same day as your biometrics appointment. The visa officials conducting the 30-minute interview will cover questions about

  • Your program
    • The program name
    • Why you choose to study it
    • Course requirements for completing it
    • Some of the modules you will be completing
    • Structure of your course
    • Assessment style of your course
    • How the program aligns with your career plans
  • Why study in UK universities
    • Why you chose the UK
    • Why the UK instead of your home country or any other destination
    • What drew you to your university
    • Information about the city you will be living and studying in
  • Personal & financial information
    • Your immigration & travel history, including any previous UK visas or visa refusals
    • Your future plans and how this degree supports them
    • Why, if applicable, you took a study gap
    • The overall cost of your studies in the UK
    • Your source of funding
    • What your parents do for a living and how much they earn
    • How much funds you will need to cover your living costs
  • What you know about the UK
    • Where you plan to live and why
    • How close or far your accommodation will be from your campus
    • Location of your campus
    • What you know about your campus, e.g., what facilities it offers
    • The university’s address

Tips on Acing Your Interviews to Study in UK Universities

For many of our students, sitting for an interview is a daunting prospect. Sitting two can be positively nerve-wracking. But not to worry – the more you prepare, the more confident you can be in proving your authentic intentions to study in the UK. Here are our tips for all our aspiring students planning to study in UK universities to ace their interviews:

Be Honest

Don’t try to sugarcoat your answers or try to say what you think the visa officer or your Pre-CAS interviewer wants you to say. Make sure all your documentation when applying for the CAS and later your Student Visa is error-free and accurate. If there are any falsehoods found in your application, you can risk not only a visa rejection but also being barred from applying for a UK visa in future.

Try to Be As Natural as You Can

Your interviewers will usually understand if you are nervous and a little stiff. Try and be as natural as you can during the interview. Don’t bring notes or papers you are reading off of to the session, as this will cast doubt over the authenticity of your answers. Don’t memorize answers either, as this will also make them come off as rehearsed and insincere.

Do Your Research

As a student with genuine intentions to study in the UK, you will likely already know all about your program and module details. You may, however, have trouble remembering the exact address of the university or the total monthly living costs in pounds off the top of your head.

Refreshing your knowledge of all the key areas that can come up in these interviews before heading into them is always a good idea.

Practice Typical Interview Questions

The best way to boost your confidence and keep your mind from going blank in the virtual interview room is to practice. You can practice with Gradstar Global’s Student Success Consultants for mock Pre-CAS and Credibility Interviews! Below are some of the questions you can expect, and tips on answering them:

Why Did You Choose the UK For Higher Studies?

Emphasize the benefits of studying in the UK in comparison to your home country or other destinations. You could cite how the country is world-leading in your field of study. International students often choose to study in the UK because it offers a greater standard of education than in their home country. You can discuss how a degree from the UK can enhance your career prospects in the future.

Note that one of the things UKVI agents will look out for in these interviews is your intention to return home after your studies. There are perfectly legitimate and lawful post-study pathways in the UK. However, discussing plans to live, work, and settle in the UK long-term at this stage can work against your case as a genuine student. This is because the Pre-CAS and Credibility Interviews are steps to make sure only genuine students receive visas. There have been cases where Student Visa holders dropped out of their programs to try and find pathways to unlawfully work and live in the UK instead.

Thus, avoid frivolous answers like wanting to travel to the UK because you have family here or because you want to live here. Center your answers around your education goals.

Why Did You Choose This Course?

Discuss your motivations for choosing the course, how it aligns with your career plans, etc. If you wrote a personal statement as part of your applications to study in UK universities, you already organized many of these points thoughtfully. Build off of this to truthfully answer interview questions.

You can discuss the course modules to demonstrate your genuine interest in the subject. Discuss how this program will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge for your future aspirations. If there are any standout opportunities this program offers that excite you, talk about them.

Why Did You Choose This University?

Discuss how you found the university and why it is the right fit for you. Describe how the university aligns with your professional goals and what you plan to accomplish there. You can highlight how the university stands out in your field. Go into detail about what this university is offering that other UK universities are not. Why did you pick this institution rather than one back home? Being able to cite some numbers and examples, like university rankings, can demonstrate the deep research and thought you put into your choice.

Have You Been to the UK Before?

Be honest with your answers and offer insight for any follow-up questions. If you answered “yes,” you must elaborate on your visitation date, purpose, and level of involvement in the UK.

Where Will You Stay in the UK?

Visa authorities and universities usually advise you not to book accommodation until you have your visa. Nonetheless, being able to describe the accommodation you are considering, how far it is from campus, why you think it’s a good student option, etc. can strengthen your case.

Describe the approximate locations of where you are hoping to stay, how much they will cost, and why you chose them.

What Are Your Goals for The Future?

This is one of the most crucial interview questions for UK student visas since it demonstrates your goals and plans for this program. You must be specific about both your short- and long-term objectives to respond to this question.

Describe how your UK degree and time studying in the country can support your career goals in the future. You can describe how these credentials can give you an edge in the job market in your home country. Steer clear of any response that casts doubt on your intention and ability to return home after you complete your degree.

Rounding Up

Interviews can seem like a scary challenge to some students. With the work you put into your applications to study in UK universities, though, you have nothing to worry about. Remember that these interviews are just another part of the process to indicate your true intentions to pursue a UK degree. With some mindful research, preparation, and practice, you can ace them without breaking a sweat.

Date Published: Feb-03-2024

Our Dream Makers are expert listeners, educators, career consultants and student supporters. They co-design your study abroad experience with you to empower you to reach for the stars. Because dreams deserve a helping hand.

About the author

This blog was written by Gradstar Global Education.

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