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International applicants

Chetham’s is a truly international community. Around 10% of our students and staff have joined us from overseas, and over forty languages are spoken across the School. This diversity, both within school and in the wider community across Manchester’s vibrant city centre, encourages a natural awareness and acceptance of different views, beliefs and cultures.

Applying from overseas

You may apply to Chetham’s at any time through the year.

If you live abroad and distance makes it difficult for you to visit Chetham’s more than once, DVD and video performances, or consultations using Skype, are accepted for first stage auditions. Recorded applications should be accompanied by a completed application form, including a reference from your first study music teacher, all of which should be written in English.

If your first stage audition is successful, you will be required to visit Manchester to hold your Main Audition in person. At this stage you’ll be welcome to take a full tour of the School and its facilities, meet music, academic and boarding staff, and potentially spend a little extra time in School as a trial boarder. Staff or current students who speak your language can often support auditions or mentor new students, ensuring you can ask the questions you need and quickly get to know the school community.

Admission is based purely on musical potential and there are no formal academic entry requirements. However, it is important that Chetham’s can provide a suitable space for learning, both academically and musically. International applicants are therefore asked to provide details of current educational achievements and the subjects they would like to study at Chetham’s.

Evidence of fluency in both written and spoken English, appropriate to your age and school year, is also required, although students who speak English as a second language will be offered one to one support throughout their time at Chetham’s.


If you are a non-UK or non-EU student, it is likely that you will need to have a visa to study at Chetham’s.  Up to date information on studying in the UK is to be found on the UK Border Agency website

The School is a Tier 4 Sponsor and if you are eligible we will be able to provide a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies sponsorship number for you to use when applying for your visa.

If you are aged up to and including 15 you will have to apply for a Child Student visa.  This also applies if you are 16 or 17 but will be primarily studying at GCSE level.

If you are 16 or 17 and will be studying A levels you can choose whether to apply for a Child Student visa or a Student visa.

If you are 18 you must apply for a Student visa.

English Language skills

Students who plan to apply for a Student visa must be able to demonstrate competency in English language at or above CEFR level B1. For more information please visit the UK Border Agency website or contact the School.

If English is not your first language, you will receive support from the Compensatory Education team whilst studying at Chetham’s, at no additional cost. Through one to one sessions, staff will assess your English language ability, support you in developing grammatical and communication skills, and help you to overcome differences in understanding arising from linguistic or cultural divides.

Students are offered support to prepare for the International English Language Test System (IELTS) which is usually a requirement for university or conservatoire entrance.


Every student whose parents live or work outside the UK must have a guardian. Students will usually visit this guardian for short breaks such as Free Weekends or in case of illness; and the guardian may respond on behalf of parents to educational or medical issues requiring urgent attention.

Funding for international students

Students with non-UK passports may be eligible for a grant through the Music and Dance scheme if they have lived in the UK for a prescribed period of time.  For the academic year 2020/21, the prescribed period of residence in the UK is from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2019.
Students with UK passports, but who live abroad, may or may not be offered a grant depending on their residential status.  The Bursar will be able to provide you with information relevant to your circumstances.
Students living outside the UK and with non-UK passports are not eligible for MDS grants and will be classed as fee-paying students.  Full boarding fees for new international students are £35,697 per year.

EU Membership

EU students who are aged 16 or over who have lived in the EU for a 3-year period preceding their start date at the School may be eligible for a tuition-only means-tested grant. Boarding fees are not covered by this grant.

These arrangements will apply to all EU students joining Chetham’s Sixth Form by September 2020, for the duration of their studies (ie until summer 2022). At this stage we do not know what will happen regarding funding for EU students beyond this time; but we expect to continue supporting visa applications for EU students as we do for students from other regions of the world.


Bursaries for overseas students

The School has a small amount of Bursary funding available to help support overseas students. Decisions are made each summer to agree who the School is able to support for the following year ,and how much funding those students will receive.

Bursary funding can range from £1,000 for the year up to full fee remission (ie all fees paid by the School).

Details of fees are available from the Bursar and overseas parents are strongly advised to contact her early in the application process.


Short visits and summer schools

Students applying from overseas may be able to arrange short residential stays in school as a trial boarder, helping them to make a final decision about studying at Chetham’s. During these visits you will get to know fellow students and the school day, meet pastoral staff, and take part in the music and academic programme. Trial visits generally last no more than one week and should be arranged with the Auditions Administrator, usually after a successful Main Audition.

Piano students of all ages may be interested in visiting the School each August as part of Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists, a one- or two-week programme bringing together piano players from across the world for teaching, masterclasses, debate and an exciting performance series.