Are you an International Student?
Whether you are an EU national or a Non-EU citizen, deciding that you want to study in the UK is a big decision. But with some of the best Universities in the world, we can see the attraction when it comes to education in the UK.
But there is a lot of planning and organisation needed to prepare yourself for the big move. Some more important than others and some you’ll need to do in a specific order.
First of all how are you going to pay?
If you're an EU national you could be eligible for Student Finance in the UK. (which will cover your tuition fees and living costs (when you’re an undergraduate).
However if you’re a Non-EU national you won't be eligible.
And normally international students will end up paying more for their degree. Yearly tuition fees can be from £10,500 and anything up to £33,000. These fees will have to be paid upfront.
If the idea of a University degree from the UK is sounding a bit too pricey, there are other options…
Exchange programmes - Enroll at a University in your home country, on a degree which offers an exchange, to study in the UK for a year.
Other loans - Your home country may offer loans to students studying abroad but you’d have to check. Check out if these options would be possible- Study abroad loan (short term) or Foreign enrolled loan (long term).
Scholarships - There are lots of options, global, country or even university scholarships!
If you’re unsure of how much University will cost you and whether you’d need a bit of help from family members, this budget calculator will help you break down your budget.
Remember when applying for your Visa, you’ll have to prove that you can pay for your first year and tuition and at least 9 months of living costs (dependent on where your uni is).
So you've decided to apply. You need to login to UCAS and provide your passport number. After this you will need to provide proof of your English language skills. Then you can begin applying for UK Universities. All requirements for every university are different, but once you’ve received offers, you can accept anyone you want. And hey presto. Your going to Uni!
So if you’re from the EU, EEA or Swiss you wont need a Visa. Any other country and you’ll need to apply for a Visa, whether that be short-term (remember you can’t work on a short-term Visa) or a Tier 4 general student Visa. You can apply for your Visa 3 months before your course is due to start.
What you’ll need-
- CAS- acceptance from uni
- Proof of finances
- English language skills (SELT)
- Healthcare surcharge (not what you’ll need, but this is paid when applying for you Visa)
Preparing for life in the UK
Moving to a different country can be daunting. But with the Internet and Facebook, there are plenty of resources to find out exactly what it’ll be like to live in the UK.
Check out ...
Facebook Groups- Uni groups, International Uni groups, Your home country student groups
Forums/ Chats- there are plenty of forums where International students discuss their experiences and give advice to others.
University- email your uni, they will have lots of resources for international students which you’ll find super useful.
Blogs- there are so many students who have created their own blogs and vlogs, first hand experience is normally the best and most useful.
And also we’d recommend doing a bit of your own research, the weather, local transport, food, culture, and general day to day living.
So where are you going to live?
Please. Please. Please sort this before you arrive in the UK. You don't want to arrive with nowhere to live. However, don't panic. Student accommodation is probably one of the easiest steps in the whole process.
- What kind of room you want- Basic, en-suite, studio or apartment?
- Where do you want to live- On campus, close to uni or close to the city centre?
- What is your budget- decide on what you can comfortably afford
Visit the Student Living website to view the student accommodation we have throughout the UK.
Keeping yourself healthy
If you are an EU national, make sure you’ve got an EHIC card will cover any healthcare you receive in the UK. For Non- EU nationals you will have to pay a health surcharge as part of your Visa, normally costing £150, which will cover you for the length of your studies. However please be aware that this will not cover your for any expenses or losses you incur because of illness, you’ll need additional travel insurance to cover this.
Student Bank account
Setting up a student bank account is definitely worth doing. A UK bank account will mean you avoid conversion fees, changing exchange rates, difficulties with budgeting.
First of all, check if your bank account has UK branches, it would be much easier to swap branches and not banks entirely. However, do bare in mind that setting up a UK bank account can be a lengthy process and you won't be able to complete the whole process online. It would be a good idea to bring a prepaid card to cover your expenses for the first month of living in the UK.
What you’ll need-
- Valid Passport
- Valid Visa
- Proof of address in UK
- Proof of address in home country
- Proof of student status
- Proof of income
There is a good chance that your phone will work in the UK, but some phones from the US for example, won't, so you’ll need to get a new one. Student monthly phone contracts are normally the best value for money.
We would recommend that every non-UK student should get a new monthly SIM. This will provide you will cheap local calls, normally unlimited texts & calls. Some phone providers do offer great cheap international calls, research into this might prove useful.
Although there are plenty of options that only require the internet and that a FREE! Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, all of which have no time limit so you can call (and with some video) for as long as you family want too.
In UK cities there are plenty of options when it comes to public transport. Every city will differ but most will have buses, the metro, trams and bikes. All of which will offer student passes, which are cheaper and normally unlimited travel.
If walking is your thing (it probably is for most students, since its FREE), why not looking for student accommodation which has a convenient location, close to the city centre and the university.
For travelling a little further, there are trains, coaches and planes. Train travel is cheaper when booked in advance and runs regularly. Coaches are much cheaper, but can take twice as long and planes are the quickest option but generally the most expensive, but deals can sometimes prove cheaper than trains.
Working on a Visa is possible, but remember Non-EU nationals can only work up to 20 hours a week. EU nationals can work as much as you like.
Once you’ve got everything in place and organised so that you can study in the UK. It’s time to start preparing for the actual move to the UK.
- Check your move in date- everything student accommodation will be different
- Book your flights- book in advance to get the best deal, the dates and times that you want
- Get packed- we’ve got the ultimate packing list for every student (remember a lot of stuff can be bought this end once you get here)
- Decide how to get your luggage there- if you want to bring everything on your flight, remember to book extra luggage and consider transporting it to your accommodation in the UK. You could get your luggage shipped, it normally costs less, but remember to bring everything you’ll need for the first few days just incase your things get delayed. The third option is to bring all your personal and essential items with you but purchase everything ready for your arrival in the UK. There are companies and some universities which offer this service, with packages including bedding, kitchen equipment, which contain everything a student will need.
- Book transport from the airport- depending on your city you may be able to catch the metro or a bus, but some could be a little harder to reach, especially with a big suitcase.
And that’s it, you're ready to start Uni! Remember the really important steps like Visa, funding and insurance. If you forget a hat and a scarf, that can be sorted in the UK (you’ll need them too).
However, please remember this is a rough guide for international students. The rules and regulations may be different for various countries so please check your national countries guidelines for travelling to the UK for university.