International Student Guide: Organising Your University Life
22 March 2018
Once the scary bit of getting here is out the way, you can begin to settle in and enjoy your new life as a university student. Here, we list the things you’ll need to organise in your first couple of weeks, including registering on your course, opening a bank account and getting sorted with a new phone that works in the UK.
You’ve made it to the UK, have the keys to your accommodation and your bags are unpacked – so the hard part of your big university move is officially over. But before you head out to see the sights, there are still several things you need to organise to make sure you’re ready for the start of term.
In this guide, we cover the basics of organising your student life, including how to register on your course, open a bank account and use your phone to make international calls. Use the links provided to navigate to the section that’s relevant
- Registering on Your Course and Attendance Information
- Opening a Bank Account in the UK
- Using Your Phone and International Calling
Registering on Your Course and Attendance Information
As part of their agreement to sponsor your student visa, UK universities are obliged to pass details of your course registration and attendance record to the Home Office. This is to ensure that your visa is being used properly to allow you to study.
For this reason, it’s absolutely vital that you register on your course within the deadline stated on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), which you’ll receive as part of your visa sponsorship agreement with the university. If you miss this deadline and fail to register on your course, you may not be allowed to begin your studies.
When registering on your course, make sure you take details of your student visa with you, as this is needed for the university to carry out a Right to Study Check – confirming your right to register on the course. You should also take your passport with you, as well as any other information and paperwork stipulated on the CAS course registration criteria.
Once you’ve registered, you can enrol on the different modules of your course – something the registration team should be able to help with. From here, you’ll normally receive a student ID card which grants you access to specific areas of the university, including the library. This can also be used to help with other things, such as an opening a bank account or buying a student discount card.
Opening a Bank Account in the UK
Opening a UK bank account is the safest and easiest way to manage your money as an international student. When you open a current account with a UK bank, you’ll normally be given a debit card to let you withdraw cash or pay for items, as well as an online banking service that makes it easy to manage your finances.
To open a bank account in the UK, you’ll need the following documents:
- Your passport and national ID card (EU students) or Biometric Residence Permit (non-EU students).
- A Statement of Student Status, provided by the university after you’ve successfully registered on your course.
- A letter from your student accommodation, confirming your fixed address in the UK.
- Your student ID card, to confirm you are a current university student.
The documents you need to open a bank account vary, so make sure you check with your chosen bank before going to the account opening appointment.
To help you choose the right student bank account and access the services you need quickly, we’ve listed the main UK banks and their contact information below.
- Barclays (Cashback on specific payments; no monthly fee): Student Additions Account
- HSBC (No monthly fee): International Accounts
- Lloyds (Overdraft, subject to status; text alerts): Classic Account
- NatWest (Discount on coach travel; no monthly fee): Student Bank Account
- Santander (One free foreign cheque deposit a month): International Student Account
- TSB (Overdraft, subject to status; no monthly fee: Student Bank Account
Please note: The above information is accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change.
Using Your Phone and International Calling
Staying in touch with friends and family, both back home and in the UK, is important, so you’ll want to get a phone and call plan that meets your needs and your budget. Luckily, the UK has an excellent mobile network that’s reliable and competitively priced, making it easy to find a flexible and affordable deal.
There are a range of different plans available, so you’ll need to choose the one that’s right for your budget and requirements. Here are your options:
- Pay-monthly contract – This option is usually a bundle including a phone and call plan, with inclusive minutes, texts and data depending on how much you want to spend. The downside is you’re normally tied in for at least a year.
- SIM-only – Great if you already have a phone in your home country, SIM-only deals let you put a new SIM in an existing device, giving you access to calls, minutes and data on the UK network. You’ll normally be on a monthly rolling contract, which can be cancelled.
- Pay–as-you-go (PAYG) – Opt for PAYG, and you’ll need to use an existing handset (or buy a new one) and top it up with credit, paying for what you use. This is a flexible option, but costs can spiral when you’re calling overseas.
Before you make a decision on the type of plan that’s right for you, here are a few key things to remember:
- If you want to use your existing handset, it may need to be unlocked before it can work with a UK SIM card.
- Remember to check the provider’s ‘fair usage policy’, as unlimited often doesn’t mean completely unlimited.
- Compare the international call charges of the UK’s different networks before agreeing to a deal.
- Remember – platforms such as Skype, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger offer free video calling, so you may not need to spend a fortune on an international calls package.
International Student Guide
>Go to Before You Arrive
>Go to What to Expect on Arrival
>Go to Staying Safe and Healthy
>Go to Shopping as a Student
>Go to Working While Studying
>Go to British Culture
>Go to Studying in Ireland