International Student Guide: Before You Arrive
22 March 2018
There are many things to consider before travelling to the UK to begin your studies. First, you’ll need to apply for a student visa, which takes time, and then arrange things like your accommodation and finances. In this guide, we cover visa requirements for both non-EU and EU students, before providing helpful information and resources on accommodation and tuition fees.
Choosing to study in the UK is one of the most rewarding decisions you could make. However, before you get here, there are a few essential things to consider that will make the move, and your transition into UK student life, easier.
From big things like your student visa and finances to more minor details that will help make things simpler; here we offer a complete guide on everything international students like yourself should have in hand before reaching the UK.
Use the links below to navigate to the section you need.
Student Visa Requirements
You will need to make sure you have the correct student visa before leaving your home country, as you may be denied entry to the UK if you can’t provide the right documentation. We’d recommend looking into the visa application process months in advance of your course start date – particularly if you’re coming from a non-EU country.
Below, we outline the visa requirements for both EU and non-EU students.
If you’re coming to the UK from an EU nation, you don’t currently need a visa to study here. However, after the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, this could change following the current Brexit negotiations, so make sure you do your research to stay ahead of the situation.
For students travelling to the UK from outside the EU and the Common Travel Area (Channel Islands, Ireland), you will need to apply for a visa to study here. The type of visa you should apply for will depend on how long your course is; we’ve listed the two main types of UK student visas below:
- Short-term study visa – If you’re taking a short course of no more than six months, you should apply for a short-term student visa. In some circumstances, this can be extended for up to 11 months.
- Tier 4 Student Visa – If you’re studying for a full undergraduate or postgraduate degree, lasting anywhere between one and five years, you should apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa. This is a sponsored visa, whereby the university will endorse your attendance after you’ve accepted an unconditional offer.
The student visa application system is points-based, and you’re awarded points for meeting different criteria. To gain points to support your visa application, you will need to provide:
- Passport details and a recent photograph
- An unconditional offer endorsed by a Tier 4 university sponsor
- Proof of English language skills, clarified by a SELT exam (secure English language test)
- Proof of financial support and stability – in the form of a recent bank statement
For more Visa information, head to this Government portal.
Knowing that your accommodation is organised prior to moving will make the countdown to university much less stressful. However, like your visa, this is something you need to sort out well in advance, as accommodation spaces can fill up extremely quickly, and there are normally deadlines for applying – particularly for university accommodation.
You should only apply for accommodation when you have been accepted for a student visa. Depending on the application time, this may mean that you miss the deadline for applying for a space in university halls of residence. However, if you do receive your visa and apply within the deadline, it’s likely that you’ll be given a place in the halls of your choice, as universities often prioritise international students to make the transition easier for them.
If you’re unable to meet the university accommodation deadline, you’ll still need to arrange accommodation yourself well in advance of your course start date. At aparto, our knowledgeable team can help take the stress out of finding a place to live, so don’t hesitate to contact us.
Naturally, aparto is not just for students who have missed the university accommodation deadline. We are particularly well-positioned to make the transition easier for international students, and provide and exceptional home from home when studying.
For more information, be sure to read our guide to UK student accommodation.
Tuition Fees and Financing
It’s no secret that studying in the UK as an international student can be expensive, with tuition fees and living costs setting overseas students back an average of £15,000 a year. That’s why it’s incredibly important to consider your finances before you arrive in the UK, setting yourself a realistic budget and exploring the various types of funding available.
As an international student living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you’ll need to prove that you have at least £1,200 in your bank account throughout your time at university. This is to ensure that the UK government won’t need to support you during your studies.
If you’re interested in applying for funding to help support you through university in the UK, there are several possible options available, which we’ve listed below:
- Your home nation – Depending on where you live, you may be able to apply for access to financial support to help fund overseas study. Check with your local government website.
- International organisations – Several organisations offer financial aid to overseas students, though the application criteria can be strict. We’d recommend looking into the Fulbright Commission, AMIDEAST, Soros Foundation and the World Health Organisation.
- UK University Funding – Occasionally you may be able to access financial support in the UK through your university. However, the amount you receive will differ greatly depending on your circumstances and where you’re studying.
Before You Arrive in Dublin
If you are preparing to study in Dublin, you may require different visas and credentials. Please refer to our dedicated studying in Ireland page, here.
International Student Guide
>Go to What to Expect on Arrival
>Go to Organising Your University Life
>Go to Staying Safe and Healthy
>Go to Settling In and Meeting People
>Go to Shopping as a Student
>Go to Working While Studying
>Go to British Culture
>Go to Studying in Ireland