Before You Arrive in the UK as an International Student
So, you have a place at a university. Great! Now there are a few things you will need to do before boarding that plane to the UK.
Do I need a visa?
If you are a national of the EEA or Switzerland, you don’t need a visa to study in the UK. If you are from anywhere else, you will need a visa. Be sure to leave plenty of time for the lengthy visa application process.
For more information about visas, go to http://www.comparethecourse.com/contents/view/47 or contact us by clicking on the link below and filling in the form at the bottom of the page.
Organising Your Finances
It is essential that you budget your expenses when at university. Costs can quickly spiral out of control. A great website to use is the International Student Calculator.
It will ask you a lot of in depth questions about your income and expenses and produce a nice budget. Alternatively, you can simply use a spreadsheet to list all your sources of finance, including savings, wages, scholarships and everything else, and your expenses, such as accommodation, tuition fees, groceries, books...
Note that your first few weeks will be more expensive than the rest. You will be getting settled and would need to buy books, pay fees, pay for deposits ... ect. Budget for this and you should be fine.
During your stay in the UK, you will need somewhere to live. You generally have two options. You can either live on-campus or in private accommodation, i.e. renting your own flat. On-campus accommodation is provided by your university and is usually much cheaper than private housing, but not all students can get a place. It is usually reserved for first and, sometimes, second year undergraduate students. Applications for on-campus housing are done when you apply to the university.
For more information on accommodation, contact your university’s accommodation office. Contact details can usually be found on their website.
Research Your Destination
A big part of being a university student is being independent. Therefore, it would be a good idea to begin now by researching the city or town that your university is in as well as using the information that the university will give you. Websites like VisitBritain and EducationUK will help you to look into the local area and find out more about the institution. Your local British Council may also run pre-departure briefings that can inform you about topics such as immigration, welfare, arrival plans and the HOST family scheme.
What Should You Bring? Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Bring?
Essentials that you will absolutely need to bring include your passport, visa, acceptance letter, insurance papers, scholarship details and money. You will most likely need to bring a laptop and any books you have already brought. If you want to pack light, then you may want to buy your books, more clothes and toiletries, cleaning and cooking stuff when you arrive.
Since 9/11, security at airports are very strict. There are some items that are prohibited with carry-on luggage and must be placed into your suitcase. These include blades, matches, lighters and bottles of liquid. You are allowed to buy drinks once you have passed airport security in the duty free area, but you can’t take any bottles from outside of the airport.
Insurance (Health, Contents and Travel)
Depending what your university provides and what you are entitled to, you may need to get medical, travel and/or contents insurance. Some students will be eligible for free health care on the NHS, but make sure you check if you are eligible before entering the UK. If not, you will need to get private health insurance. Contents insurance is for everything that you keep in your home while in England. If you are burgled, then this will cover what is damaged or stolen. Sometimes, your university may provide contents insurance as part of your accommodation contract. It will be a good idea to contact the housing office at your university to check. Travel insurance covers you for anything lost or stolen on your way here or if your flight is cancelled. If you get it for the duration of your trip, make sure you are covered for any trip back home during half-term break.
You are not required to get any vaccines before entering the UK, but it is advised to get the Tetanus and Meningitis C and MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccines either before entering the UK or when you arrive. If you are eligible for NHS healthcare, then you may be able to get it on that.
International students are generally required to enrol online sometime in September. Specific dates depend on which course and university you have a place with. Online enrolment forms can usually be found on your university’s website. For more information about enrolment, contact your university.
That covers the essentials. You may need to do other things before you book your flight and head to the UK, but your university will help you with anything you need to do.