Coming to study in the UK from abroad is a big decision, and one that can seem a little overwhelming. There’s lots of organising to do, such as arranging visas, tuition fees and bank accounts, as well as finding suitable accommodation. As with most things, it’s always better to plan ahead than to leave everything to the last minute, so here’s a handy guide to help you get travel ready!
Organise your funding
At the moment, if you’re from the EU you should be eligible for student finance in the UK, which means your tuition fees will be paid for by a loan that you pay back at a later date.
However, if you live outside of the EU you'll likely have to fund your degree yourself. To obtain a successful visa application, you’ll need to prove that you can cover this tuition cost as well as your living expenses.
But there’s no need to worry if you don't have the money to pay for tuition - there may be other options available. For more information check out the Save the Student website.
Your student visa
Depending upon which country you come from, you might need to apply for a visa.
EU, EEA or Swiss nationals
If you're a national of a country in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or you're from Switzerland, whilst the UK remains in the EU you won't need to apply for a visa to study in the UK and will be able to travel to the UK using your normal passport. However, these rules may change once the UK leaves the EU.
If you're from a country outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland, you'll need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.
Short and long term visa
If you're planning to study in the UK for less than six months, you'll need a short-term student visa. If your course lasts longer than six months, you'll need a Tier 4 (general) student visa. You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa if you’re 16 and over and you:
- Have been offered a place on a course
- Can speak, read, write and understand English
- Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
- Are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
- Meet the other eligibility requirements
You can apply for your visa 3 months before the start of your course. Currently the Tier 4 visa costs £348 if you're applying from outside the UK, and you'll need to be in your home country to apply.
Choosing your student accommodation
The last thing you’ll want is to turn up to university and have nowhere to stay, so it’s worth sorting out your accommodation before you arrive. Once you’ve received an offer of a place at university, you should be guaranteed accommodation with them too. Most students live in university accommodation called ‘halls’ or alternatively you can rent a room in a private house. Some universities even have halls specifically for international students to help you make friends easily.
Already arranged your student accommodation? Your accommodation provider may also have arranged some contents insurance inside your room with Endsleigh. You can check what's covered by entering your accommodation provider or HH reference number here.
You’ll need to prove that you have health insurance to cover you for any medical care you might need while you’re residing in the UK.
If you're from the EU, you’ll need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will entitle you to free or reduced healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS) while you're living in the UK. For more information about applying for an EHIC card, visit the European Commission website.
If you're a student from a country outside the EU, you'll have to pay a health surcharge as part of your visa application, giving you access to the NHS during your stay here.
Don't forget that neither the EHIC nor health surcharge will cover any extra expenses or losses incurred as a result of illness or injury, such as cancelled travel plans or lost course fees, so it’s a good idea to check whether you need any additional insurance cover for your trip to the UK.
Endsleigh offers specialist travel insurance for international students coming to the UK which will cover these extra expenses, as well as a range of other insurance policies to protect you, your contents and gadgets.
Setting up a bank account
Setting up a UK bank account will make it easier to pay bills, keep your money safe and prevent you from paying any foreign currency charges you might incur if you use a non-UK bank account.
In order to open a bank account while you're here in the UK, you’ll need to be able to provide the following:
- A valid passport
- A valid visa - Non-EU students only
- Proof of address in the UK, such as a tenancy agreement or a utility bill
- Proof of address in your home country
- Proof of student status - you'll normally receive this once you enrol at university
- Proof of income - this may mean a credit check and interview to establish you will be able to maintain the account
You'll also need to visit the bank in person to get everything set up.