Hello Future UK Scholars!
If you’ve been accepted to study in the UK, congratulations! Embarking on an academic journey in one of the world’s renowned education destinations is an exciting adventure. Yet, preparing to move to a new country for studies can be daunting. Don’t fret; this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to prepare for your move to the UK in September.
1. Initial arrival
Traveling to a new country, especially for the first time by air, can seem overwhelming. However, airport staff are always on hand at your departure airport and upon arrival at your chosen airport in the UK to assist you. Here are some tips to guide you through the airport and immigration process:
• Ensure to check your luggage allowance – both in terms of weight and number of items. Additional charges will apply if you exceed these allowances.
• Make sure you arrive at the airport well in advance of your flight. For information on security wait times, refer to your departure airport’s website.
• Proceed to the check-in desk designated for your airline and flight number to drop off your luggage that will be placed in the aircraft’s hold.
• Pass through security with your carry-on luggage. Pay attention to the signs and instructions from airport staff who will guide you through this process.
• Find your boarding gate and stay alert for updates regarding your boarding time and procedures from the announcements and display screens.
• Once you’ve landed in the UK, follow the ‘Arrivals’ signs to Immigration and Passport Control.
• Afterwards, head to the baggage claim area and then to customs control.
• Exit through the appropriate immigration lane. Usually, airport staff will be available to direct you to the right lane.
• Be prepared for immigration officers to inspect your documents and inquire about your reasons for visiting the UK. Always be truthful and ready to answer these questions in English.
• Organise a meet and greet service at the airport.
Universities typically provide pick-up services on specified days before enrolment, so it’s crucial to schedule your flight within these timeframes. This will simplify and make your journey to your accommodation stress-free. If you’re unable to travel on these days, ensure that you arrange private transportation, or notify your friends or family in the UK of your arrival times. A variety of transport options are available including trains, buses, coaches, domestic flights between UK airports, taxis, and the London underground. Choose the one that best suits your needs to reach your university.
Some suggested websites:
Healthcare is provided by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and most international students are eligible for free NHS treatment. You may need to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of your visa application. Ensure you get a health check and necessary vaccinations before you travel. Also, remember to bring copies of your medical records and prescriptions if you take medication. Once you arrive in the UK, be sure to register with a General Practitioner, known as a GP in the UK, GP’s work in local medical practices, you register by visiting the practice and asking for an application form.
3. Accommodation and Living Costs
Finding a suitable place to live is critical. Many universities offer on-campus accommodation, but places are limited and often allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Look into off-campus housing options as a backup plan.
Living costs in the UK can vary greatly depending on your location. London and other large cities tend to be more expensive. Budget for rent, groceries, transportation, and personal expenses. Remember to factor in the cost of your mobile phone plan, internet, and other utilities. Below are some tips on budgeting as a student:
· Purchase used or borrow study material/books
· Utilise the library resources at your university
· Use student offers and discount – TOTUM, Unidays, Student Beans
· Student travel discounts – Oyster, 16-25 Railcard, Student Saver Bus Tickets
· Compare grocery supermarkets – Lidl, Aldi, B&M’s
· Grocery Supermarket loyalty cards – Lidl, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons
· Keep on top of your subscriptions – Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix etc
· Consider a part time job – but studying and your education should be your main priority!
However, like any country, studying in the UK also comes with challenges such as cost of living, adjusting to a new culture, and others. It’s important to fully research and consider these factors before deciding to study abroad. Estimations exist to provide insight into your potential living expenses while pursuing your studies in the UK. If your choice of study is within the London region, anticipate a higher cost of living, projected at roughly £1,334 monthly. If you plan on studying elsewhere in the UK, the anticipated cost is approximately £1,023 per month. Remember, these figures are just estimates, and actual expenses may vary depending on the location within the UK due to differing costs of food, dining, leisure activities, and accommodation.
4. Banking and Finances
Set up a UK bank account as soon as possible. It’ll make managing your money easier, and it’s often required for things like renting an apartment or setting up a mobile phone contract. To establish a bank account in the UK, specific documents are required. These include proof of your residential address, an identification document like your passport, and evidence of your student status, which could be your university acceptance letter or student ID card. You may also need to show your visa confirmation. In some cases, if you are considering an account that offers an overdraft facility, you might be asked to provide proof of income as well.
5. What to pack
When you travel by air, you’ll typically have two types of luggage: your main luggage that gets checked into the aircraft’s hold, and your carry-on bag. The carry-on, usually a small bag or backpack, is what you’ll bring with you onto the aircraft, typically stowed under your seat or in an overhead compartment. We advise packing certain items in this carry-on so they’re accessible during your flight or while you’re at the airport. It’s especially crucial to have hard copies of essential documents in case your phone experiences issues or runs out of battery. Here’s what we recommend:
- Valid Passport
- Visa Confirmation
- A university offer letter and CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) Accommodation confirmation and destination address in hand
- Medical Report (including TB certificate) and insurance
- Bank drafts, debit and credit cards
- Cash to cover your immediate arrival – £250 – £500 (depending whether you are within the London area)
- Air tickets and departure details
- Airport pick-up and university contact details
- Other important documents – make copies & save them digitally
- Personal medication
- Casual wear to match the weather – Sweatshirt with a hood (hoodie), winter coat, thin waterproof jacket, warm hat depending on the time of year you are arriving
The UK is known for its unpredictable weather. Winters can be cold, and summers can be warm but often rainy. Pack a variety of clothes, including waterproof jackets and warm layers for winter. Don’t forget a good pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes for walking around campus.
As an international student, it is generally advisable to bring a laptop to the UK for your studies, unless you have already arranged to purchase or rent one upon arrival. The majority of your coursework, research, and communication with professors and classmates will likely require the use of a computer. Additionally, having your own laptop will provide the convenience of being able to work from anywhere – be it your accommodation, the library, a cafe, or in between classes on campus.
However, it is not a strict requirement. Most UK universities have computer labs and libraries equipped with computers that students can use. But these may have limited availability or may not always be convenient to access, especially during peak times like exam season.
As an international student coming to the UK, you can definitely buy most, if not all, of what you need once you arrive. The UK has a range of retail stores, supermarkets, and online shopping options where you can purchase items such as bedding, kitchenware, stationery, toiletries, and clothing, among others. Online shopping is very common in the UK, and you can often find what you need on websites like Amazon, Argos and Curry’s.
There are items that are banned and restricted to pack into your luggage to bring into the UK, it is important you don’t pack any of these items:
· Banned and restricted goods: drugs, weapons, indecent and obscene materials, pepper spray, and pirated goods.
· Restricted food: all meat and meat products, all types of milk and dairy products, fruit and vegetable, egg products, fish and fishery products.
For More Information:
6. Culture and Social Life
The UK is a country rich in diversity and steeped in history, offering numerous opportunities to discover museums, historical landmarks, and cultural celebrations. Universities in the UK are lively hubs of social interaction, boasting a variety of clubs, societies, and events. With a student population hailing from all corners of the globe, UK universities provide an enriching multicultural backdrop that can expand your worldview and deepen your educational journey by immersing yourself in a warm and welcoming international community.
Regardless of your interests or hobbies, the UK’s expansive array of leisure activities is sure to accommodate you. Whether you’re pursuing existing passions or exploring new interests, you’re bound to find engaging activities and form friendships along the way.
Pursuing your education in the UK also offers the significant benefit of improving your English language proficiency. Given that English is the most widely spoken language worldwide, with approximately 15% of the global population speaking it, mastering the language can provide you with a substantial advantage in the international job market.
7. Education System
Acquaint yourself with the workings of the UK education system. The organization of classes, evaluation techniques, and scholastic expectations may vary from those you’ve experienced before. The UK higher education system stands out by fostering a culture of independent and innovative thought. Should you need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask – a plethora of resources are available at universities for international students.
The UK is celebrated for its elevated academic standards, providing a world-class education. It boasts distinguished universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and University College London, among others.
UK universities feature a broad spectrum of courses, affording you an extensive selection to match your interests and career aspirations, both during and after your studies. The offerings include postgraduate programs, PhD and research courses, as well as internships and placements facilitated by the universities and their industry partners.
Assurance of quality is a cornerstone of UK education. The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) conducts regular assessments of universities to confirm their adherence to the high standards of learning, research, and professionalism that they are famous for. With these stringent expectations placed on universities from an educational perspective, you can be confident in the superior quality of your education.
In summary, the secret to an effortless transition lies in thorough preparation. Begin well in advance, formulate a checklist, and meticulously see it through. Adopting an open mindset towards this experience will significantly contribute to your success. Be prepared to immerse yourself in a new culture, fully commit to your studies, and view this as an enrichment of your life beyond just career advancement. Initially, it may appear daunting, but bear in mind that over 600,000 international students embark on this journey annually, and you will be among them.