What do international students need when they move to the UK?
International students who move to the UK already face a difficult challenge adapting to the culture shock and studying in a second language – but it’s made even harder by a lack of good information about some of the things you need.
Here’s our Moving to the UK checklist, which hopefully gives you more of an idea about some essentials and some other things that it are good to have, but which past students moving to the UK have not been properly prepared for.
We’re not talking about credit cards here. Your visa must give you permission to study in the UK. There’s an exemption to this for international students from within the EU, but as Brexit continues, that could change too.
It’s likely to catch out a lot of EU students unaware of the change – so we’re saying it now just in case.
Arranging accommodation before you travel to the UK can be difficult, but of course you need somewhere to stay when you get here.
In most cases you should be able to stay in accommodation owned by the university – called Halls of Residence – and this is normal for first year British students too, so you should find you are among plenty of other people who are living away from home for the first time.
To open a UK bank account you’ll normally need proof of student status, proof of ID, proof of address – both home and in the UK – AND proof of your income.
Getting proof of your UK address can take time after getting here, so if you want an online account fast when new to the UK, consider applying for an Arro Personal Account – you don’t need proof of address, although you do need to be living here when you apply.
Mobile phones from most of the rest of the world will work in the UK, except for Japan and the Americas, so check the compatibility of your handset before you bring it with you if you’re not sure.
You can easily get a cheap phone in the UK on a ‘pay as you go’ deal, where you add prepaid credit to the phone for any calls, texts or data you want, or if your handset is compatible, there are sim-only deals, which could give you a UK sim card you can put into your own phone handset from back home.
Public transport in the UK is usually quite good for short distances, although travelling long distances by train can be expensive.
In most cases you can get a daily or weekly pass for unlimited travel by bus within a particular area – especially around university towns and cities – but if you are going to pay for a ticket when you board a bus, be ready to pay the exact price, as drivers don’t always have change.
You can save on train tickets by booking well in advance of your travel date and time, but you might have to book a specific train if you do this – and if you miss it, your ticket usually will not be valid for any other service.
If you want to work to help pay for your lifestyle while you are studying in the UK, check how many hours you are allowed to work on your student visa – and make sure your employer understands that is a fixed limit.
A UK-based account like an Arro Personal Account can make it easier to find work, as with a UK sort code and account number, it’s easier for employers to set it up so that your wages are paid directly into your account, rather than having to pay into your bank account from back home, or give you your wages as cash.
Bursaries and scholarships
Universities often have a number of scholarships for international students – some even have funding available for students from specific parts of the world – so make sure you know what is on offer at your university and how to apply for it.
Often there are very few applications for this funding, so you might be one of only ten or less people from your part of the world to apply for a particular bursary – giving you a very good chance of being the one who receives that funding to help cover the cost of your studies.