Guide for international students

If you're not from the UK, things like paying your tuition fees, getting a bank account and getting a job can be pretty complicated. Here's our guide to help you out.

Students smiling all sat around a globe

You might have to pay extra for the experience of studying overseas

Tuition fees

The admissions staff from your university or college can tell you exactly how much your course will cost, but here is a rough guide:

  • English language courses: Fees vary greatly, from around £100-£300 per week. Some universities/colleges provide free English classes prior to the start of the main course.
  • Non-degree, career based and professional courses (e.g. diplomas and certificates):Fees cost around £3,500-£5,000 a year, depending on programme and length.
  • Degree courses: The fees can range from £4,000-£18,000 per year depending on the institution, the level and the type of course you’re doing.

You can be eligible for lower ‘home’ fees or student support from a UK local education authority given that you satisfy some residential conditions. Check out this online calculator for international students to help you work out what you can afford.

Funding and scholarships

To find out what financial help you can get from your government, contact your Ministry of Education/ Education department. If they offer no support, you can apply for scholarships.

When applying for a grant, apply at least a year before your course starts and remember to be clear and concise. Most scholarships for study in the UK are for postgraduate courses, although in special circumstances applications for undergraduate study may be considered. Other alternatives include applying for scholarships from international agencies such as UNESCO and WHO.

Visa and immigration

Take note of your visa or entry clearance dates. As an international student, your stay in the UK is only legal as long as your visa/entry clearance is still valid. Some students are not given permission to stay for the whole course. In this case, you will have to apply for a permission extension and submit it a month prior to the expiry date.

To see which documents you should submit and other related information, visit the Home Office. If your permission to stay has already expired, or if your application is refused, contact one of the following for help:

Working in the UK

If your course lasts longer than six months, you are allowed to work full-time during vacations, and part-time (up to 20 hours a week) during term-time. If you’re taking a work placement or internship with an employer, you can work full-time during the term.

If your visa or passport stamp does not allow you to work, check the third line of your visa. If it says ‘student’, you can change the work allowance with the help of an international student adviser at your place of study.

You will need to obtain a National Insurance number in order to be employed in the UK. To do so arrange an appointment with your local Job Centre Plus as soon as possible and bring these with you for the interview:

  • A firm, written offer of employment;
  • Two forms of identification;
  • A reference from the university/college.

Banking basics

First of all, ask your bank in your home country:

  • How best to transfer your money to the UK.
  • How to run a bank account in the UK.
  • Whether your bank has a special relationship with any UK banks.
  • Whether you can use cash cards from your home bank in cash machines in the UK.

Before you decide which UK bank to choose and which accounts to open, familiarise yourself with banking terms such as balance, overdraft, PIN, etc. Also master the pounds and pence of British currency.

When you go to the bank to open an account, you will need to bring:

  • Your passport.
  • Letter of acceptance from your university/college.
  • Evidence of your UK address: reference from your student halls or tenancy agreement if you live in private accommodation.
  • Reference/statement from your bank at home (as requested).

Insurance

There are three types of insurance that you might need while living and studying: personal property insurance; medical insurance; and motor insurance. Arrange the first two types before you come to the UK. Choose an insurance that covers both you and your possessions while living abroad. If you’re not insured yet, you can use a comparison website to compare policies or ask your bank or building society for a quote. Always remember to ask for special deals or policies for students. And make sure that you understand all the conditions before you agree to sign any policies.

Driving

With many transport options available, most students get along very happily without their own vehicle. But if you do want to drive here, you can find all you need on the DVLA website.

Fortunately, most international students complete their courses in the UK without running into any serious legal problems. But if you find yourself involved in a legal dispute, contact either the Students’ Union or welfare officer/counsellor at your university/college, or your area’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for expert advice. They can recommend you with a lawyer (if you need one) and point you to a local law centre, which provides free legal advice.

In extreme circumstances (for example if you are arrested by the police), try not to be aggressive. Comply and co-operate when asked, and do not attempt to do rash things like bribing the police officer. And lastly, obey the local laws and show respect towards people in the community.

Photo of students by Shutterstock

Next Steps

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Updated on 24-Oct-2017