It can be overwhelming to coming to the UK to study as an international student. You might be feeling excited but nervous at the same time. There is a lot to consider in preparation such as tuition fees, visas and bank accounts so to make it easier for you here is our study abroad preparation checklist for the UK.
Making sure you have the finance to fund your degree should be the first thing to do. You will need to provide documentation to prove that you can cover your study costs along with your living expenses for your student visa to get approved.
If you are an EU student, you are eligible for Student Finance in the UK which means the cost of your tuition fees will be covered by a loan which you’ll have to pay back in the future. Students from outside of the EU will have to fund their degree themselves as they are not eligible for the loan. Also, they have to pay higher fees than UK students which would be from £10,000 – £35,000 a year.
There are other options available if you are not able to fund your education such as international sources of funding and there are also education loans or exchange programs that you could look at.
To be able to study in the UK you need the correct visas and organize other paperwork required. Although it’s not complicated to get and the UK encourages international students, you need to make sure you have the visa.
The visas required vary depending on the country you are from. But if you are from a European Union (EU) member country you don’t need to apply for a visa to study in the UK. If you are from a country that is out of the EU then you will need to apply for a visa to study in the UK. At some universities there are special staff to help students with their visas so if you have a specific university in mind that you’d like to attend, just ask them for help.
Studies for less than six months, you can apply to a short-term student visa. But if you are planning to study for more than six months, you’ll need Tier 4 student visa.
The UK welcomes people from all around the world and has a very diverse culture. So you will meet a lot of international students in the same situation as you. You will also find student communities that will help you meet like-minded people. When you decide on which university you will be studying, it would be helpful to find related Facebook groups so you can ask your questions and make some new friends.
If you weren’t already aware, the UK is known for its wet and sometimes quite cold weather. The weather in the UK can also be unexpected and rainy days are quite common. Don’t forget to pack lots of warm clothes and don’t expect the summer to be that hot. When the universities start in September it’s the beginning of autumn which could be colder than most places. But since the UK has great shops you can choose to not pack everything and buy some pieces when you get there.
As an international student, accommodation is one of the most important things to consider as it will be where you will spend most of your time. There are many options for student accommodation in the UK depending on your budget. Most students either live in university accommodation (called ‘halls of residence’ or ‘halls’ for short) or choose to rent a room from a private landlord. Many universities often offer house guarantees to their students who apply before a certain date so you might want to contact your university first.
University halls can either be self-catered where you have access to a shared kitchen or catered where your meals will be provided at the canteen. Having your own kitchen or using a shared kitchen to cook for yourself will help you save money. Many of our rooms at London Nest come with shared or private kitchens.
Researching the positives and negatives of your options on whether to stay in halls or renting private accommodation should be the first thing to do. You might want to pay a bit more and get your own en-suite. At London Nest you can find both affordable and luxury options in very central locations. We offer a variety of rooms which all come fully equipped and with many facilities at the locations such as private kitchen, game rooms, en-suite bathrooms. Our luxury accommodations options are all-inclusive which covers all the bills so you don’t have to worry about them.
You can contact your university staff to help you decide as to the staff there will be more experienced and advise on the best accommodation based on what you want.
When you arrive in the UK, you should register with a doctor at a surgery or health centre in the local area as soon as possible. The local doctor – also known as a ‘GP’ (General Practitioner), will be your first point of contact if you are ill and require medical treatment.
If you are from the EU, you’ll just need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will entitle you to use the National Health Service (NHS) while you’re here in the UK. If you’re a student from a country outside the EU, to get access to the NHS you’ll have to pay a health surcharge as part of your visa application.
Also if you have any health insurance already, check to see if it covers you while you’re abroad. But remember that any extra expenses or losses incurred as a result of illness or injury won’t be covered by EHIC or health surcharge.
Consider setting up a UK bank account if you’re going to stay in the UK for more than a few months. It will make it easier for you to keep your money safe and pay any bills. But it can take a while to get a bank account set up so you might want to take money with you to cover the first month of your stay.
It’s standard practice for students to have a student bank account in the UK. There are lots of banks in the UK that you can open an account with including HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander, Halifax, and Barclays. To open an account, you will need appropriate identification and documentation.
Do research before opening your bank account as each bank has different options for students in terms of credits and ATM usages. You can find more information on the banks at British Banker’s Association website. Check to see if your current bank has any links to the UK banks as you might be able to have an easy process.
When you arrive in the UK you’ll probably want to call your family and friends to let them know you arrived safely. Your mobile phone will work in the UK just fine but if you use your local mobile service provider most likely you will be charged for extremely high prices. The UK operates on the same GSM band as most of the world, but if you’re coming from Japan or North/South America, your phone may not work in the UK, so this is worth checking.
So if you are going to stay in the UK long term, it’s best for you to purchase a UK SIM. You have options to either get Pay As You Go (PAYG) or sign up for a monthly contract and pay set amount each month. Providers such as LycaMobile and RebTel offer cheaper services and low-cost international calls so you might want to use one of them.
If you’re staying with us at one of our London Nest locations you can use free internet and Wi-Fi provided in all bedrooms and throughout the buildings to make calls using Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime.