10 Tips for International Students Studying in the UK
The United Kingdom is one of the most popular destinations for international students seeking higher education abroad. Studying in the UK gives you the opportunity to interact and collaborate with the native English speakers - an opportunity you can use to sharpen your English skills, improve your skills, meet new people, boost your career and travel.
If you are keen on the idea of studying in the UK, or have already secured a place check out some important advice which will really enhance the experience and make it easier.
Here is our list of important things for international students to know and keep in mind before going to study in the UK:
1. Research Research Research
Be sure to research thoroughly before departing, there are so many different colleges, universities and English language schools offering study programs in the UK. There are also literally hundreds of places you can study from small towns to large international cities.
The UK has some of the best educational systems in the world with world famous universities like Oxford and Cambridge, where you can go can come down to personal preference and also course choice. Make sure you make the right selection and check reviews before committing.
Some international students are eligible for bursaries that will help towards fees and/or living expenses. Most universities have bursary schemes and you will need to see to see if you are eligible. Be sure to do this thought as it can drastically reduce the cost of studying in the UK.
The UK is a very safe destinartion but before arriving make sure you write down important phone numbers and contact details for example for the police, health and any educational related enquiries.
2. Visas and Travel Documents
You will need to make sure you have the correct paperwork to study in the UK. Your university or course provider will be able to help you further with this.
If you are an EU student who wants to study in the UK you do not currently need a visa. But for students outside of Europe, you should research and find the appropriate visa type depending on your plans regarding your stay as you study in the UK. It is necessary to get your Visa ready before the due date for admission and to avoid any problems at the border when entering the UK.
If you are applying from outside the EU and plan to study in the UK for less than six months, you'll need a short-term student visa. This is perfect for short courses like language classes and not full degree courses.
If you want to stay longer than 6 months, you'll need a Tier 4 (general) student visa. The Tier 4 visa currently costs £348 if you're applying from outside the EU, and you will need to apply from your native home country.
Applicants from outside the EU applying for the Tier 4 visa also need to get:
- Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) - a reference from your chosen university
- Have proof of finances - enough money to cover your tuition fees and living expenses
- English language test - you might need to prove you have a good level of English
3. Search Flights
There are so many airlines which fly to the UK and you will need to book well in advance to secure the best deals. We recommend searching flights on Skyscanner where you can search and compare the best deals.
4. Arrange Accommodation
Most colleges and universities in the UK offer free guides and assistance to international students who need accommodation. There are lots of options available for students including shared specific student accommodation, hostels and privately rented accommodation. Prices vary depending on the accommodation type and location. It is important to get this arranged well in advance of arrival just to give you one less thing to worry about.
5. Get Appropriate Healthcare Insurance
If you are a student coming to the UK from an EU country you can get access to free healthcare if you have an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). EHIC cards are free and cover you for medical issues whilst in EU countries.
If you are applying from overseas outside of the EU then you will either need to pay a surcharge on your visa application or you will need to get a comprehensive medical insurance to make sure you are covered whilst studying in the UK.
Lots of companies like Endsleigh offer travel insurance for international students coming to the UK.
The UK is an expensive destination but there are lots of ways you can budget and save money. From checking student discounts, buying learning materials and textbooks second hand or online, taking advantage of special offers and shopping as discounted stores. Try to work out a daily/weekly budget and stick to it.
One of the most sensible things to do is to get in touch with your intended college/university to get a list of the books you will need and buy them before you travel. Subscribing to education apps can also help you reduce the need for spending more on books and most are free.
Other tips for studying abroad on a budget include getting a part-time job to make a little extra money. For the EU students, there is currently no limit as to how long you can work while studying. Non-EU students can work in the UK for 20 hours per week, except for the holidays when they can work full-time.
7. Be Social But Dedicate Time to Studying
Going to study abroad in Great Britain can be exciting and it is easy to get distracted with the sights, entertainment and social events on offer. Try to join lots of social clubs and events which can help you to make friends. Remember though, you are here to study and passing with good grades will make the whole experience of studying here better and more worthwhile.
If your language skills could be improved then search English courses in the UK or if you are thinking you need essay writing help online several websites and people can help. Search online or speak to teachers, never be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand or think you need any help.
You might want to research your course and plan ahead to give yourself the best chance of passing.
8. Set Up a UK Bank Account
If you are going to be living in the UK, even if just for a few months we recommend setting up a band account in the country.
There are lots of companies to choose from and this will allow you to keep track to money and also reduce any fees from using international cards/banks.
To open a bank account you will need to visit a branch in person and also have:
- A valid passport
- A valid visa and proof of student status
- Proof of address
You can choose from a general current or a student bank account, some offer overdrafts which are great if you running low on funds.
It usually takes around 1-2 weeks to set up a bank account and receive a debit card in the post. You might want to also consider getting a pre-paid card before departing to avoid carrying lots of cash on arrival.
9. Keep in Contact with Home
Remember to keep in touch with friends and family back home too to keep them updated on your plans and how you are doing. Keeping regular contact can help with the culture shock of living abroad and can also help reduce homesickness. Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype are great or you might want to also consider buying an international SIM card to phone home.
10. Travel & Enjoy Every Moment
The UK really is one of the best study abroad destinations partly due to the amazing things you can do here.
There are so many amazing places to visit in the United Kingdom, or you could use this as a base and explore more of Europe! There are cheap transport connections making travel easier and more assessable even if you are on a budget.
For cheap travel around the UK bus services like Megabus and National Express offer really low cost journeys starting from only £1! You can travel between the most major towns and cities with daily departures.
Lots of cheap airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair also offer internal and international flights.
There can be anxiety when considering going to a new country tbut this can be a life changing experience. There are so many reasons to study in the UK is something you really should do. You will get to meet new people, learn new skills, improve your knowledge, live in a different culture and also see different places in your spare time. Hopefully our tips will help you to plan and enjoy the best study experience possible.