Moving overseas to study can feel overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time at university. There’s a lot to know about what an international student needs to do in order to study in the UK. It includes things like visas, tuition fees and health insurance. Below is a check list of all that is necessary.
So come on, let’s put away the video games and the Casino Coupon codes and see what it takes to get studying in the UK.
Make sure you have a valid student visa
It is likely that as an international student you will need to get a visa to learn in the UK. Prior to 31st December 2020 students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland did not need visa to learn in the UK. From 1st January 2021 all that changed.
However, if you were already a student living in the UK before the end of December 2020 you were able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme which enabled you to continue working and studying in the same way you did before Brexit.
Arriving after 31st December 2020 means applying for a visa. Those coming from countries outside the EU or EEA have always needed a visa so nothing new here but now it’s the same for everyone. If you are planning a short 6 month’s learning then a standard visitors visa will suffice but you are not able to work with this visa. If you want to work you will need to apply for a student visa.
In order to get a student visa, you will need to produce a few documents:
- Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS).
- Proof that you can finance yourself whilst in the UK.
- Proof that you have the language skills – taking an English Language Test.
If you apply for a student visa from abroad it will cost £363 and you should apply at least 6 months before the beginning of your course. It is likely that you will need to pay an additional healthcare supplement at the same time but this will enable you to use the National Health Service.
Make sure to organise your funding and explore research scholarships.
Making sure you can fund your degree is crucial.
Prior to Brexit students in the EU could apply for student funding like UK students but now the situation is different. The new rules apply to all overseas students. That means that new students starting from August 2021 (not those continuing from before that date who may still be eligible under the old scheme) will need to pay the same fees as all overseas students no matter where they are from. These fees are more than the standard fees for UK students.
At the time of applying for your visa you will be asked to show proof that you can fund your degree and also be able to provide for yourself whilst living in the UK.
What to expect from life in Britain
Britain today is a very culturally diverse place accommodating people from all over the world. International students can be found in all British universities.
The weather is something you should prepare yourself for. It is often cold and wet so be sure to bring warm and waterproof clothing. Heating can be expensive, especially on a student’s budget so warm clothing is essential.
Future plan your living accommodation
The ideal situation is to sort out where you will be living before you arrive in the UK. Approach the university where you will be studying to see what accommodation they have and when you need to apply.
University accommodation is called “halls of residence” and is a nice and easy way to start your university experience, and enabling you to make friends. Most of the these offer single rooms.
After the first year you could perhaps rent a private room outside the university. Halls of residence usually have shared self-catering kitchen areas and/or canteens on campus.
Be sure to organise medical insurance
You will need to show proof that you have health insurance in order to study in the UK. If you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland and arrived in the UK prior to end of December 2020 you will likely have a UK health insurance card which you are still able to use. If you don’t have one you will need to apply for one.
If you arrived in the UK after 31st December 2020, even if you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, and those coming from outside these areas, will need to pay for health insurance at the same time you apply for your visa.
Something to note is that the health insurance coverage you receive from the UK does not cover expenses that may occur due to illness, like lost course fees or travel costs.
Open a bank account
If you plan to be in the UK for more than 6 months, it is best to open a UK bank account. This will make paying bills easier and will prevent you having to pay foreign currency exchange rates if you need to use your foreign bank account. It is worth checking whether the bank in your home country has links to a UK bank which could make the process much simpler and also check whether the bank you choose offers international student bank accounts. Start the bank process early as it can take some time until the account is operational.
Using public transport
Using the bus service is probably the easiest way to get around and purchasing a student bus card will save you money. Obviously in London you will use the London Underground, or in Newcastle the Metro where buying a monthly or even yearly pass will help to reduce the cost.
You will probably want to travel around a bit, especially if it is your first time in the UK and the best way to do this is by coach or train. The train service is an excellent way of touring the country and you can purchase a Railcard which will knock off approximately a third of your train fares. Coaches are cheaper but they also take longer.
Are you able to work legally? If so, how much?
Many students rely on money that they can make from working. If you have a student visa you are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during your studies. For those who have “EU settled status”, you can work as much as you like.
However, it is not wise to rely only on the money you get from part time work for studying. It’s a useful way to supplement your income but too much work will likely distract you from your studies.