Find out if you need a student visa
Whether or not you need a student visa depends on your citizenship. If you are a citizen of a country in the EU (like Spain, Germany, or Greece – see the full list here), you will not currently need a visa. This may change in future, so it’s always best to check before applying.
If you’re from outside of Europe, you will need one, which you can apply for here. You can apply for this 90 days before your course starts and you should hear back within three weeks of applying. The visa costs £348 (€387).*
Apply for your particular study abroad programme
Many of the top universities in the UK offer international study programmes, including Erasmus. For example, University College London allows students to study in London for the summer, a term, or the year, and offers many different types of financial help. If you’re choosing to complete your degree in the UK, you will need to apply through UCAS. Although you can apply independently or through an advisor, UCAS is the main body in the UK for university applications. The deadline for international applications is October 15th, but universities usually accept applications well into the new year.
Apply for a scholarship
Many students aren’t aware of scholarships that are on offer at many UK universities and colleges, but the financial help is there for you if you apply early and you meet any particular terms and conditions upon application. Search your university’s website, ask your tutor, and search online for specific scholarships – there tends to be tailored financial loans for international students, degrees where women are in the minority, or nursing.
Usually you can apply for most of the student halls at your university with no problem, but some require signing long-term contracts and leases you may want to avoid. See if your university offers any specialised accommodation for international students and apply early as often this gets booked up quickly! Living with other international students is a great way to build a community with whom you can study, party and travel with. But, if you’re in need of temporary accommodation then stay in one of the best hostels in Europe.
Check when you need to arrive and when you can start living there
Usually the term date is later than the start of your contract in your new halls. You can benefit from this by spending those two or three weeks orienting yourself to your new home, making friends, and checking out the city. There are usually welcome parties and meetings for new students too, and that’s before Fresher’s Week has even started. Knowing your dates also allows you to book your return home in advance, which is usually cheaper than booking two one way tickets – even if you need to change the date.
Book your flights in advance
Ensure you have your flights booked early, and you know how to get to your university from the airport. You’re probably going to have a lot of baggage, so make sure you know the easiest, quickest route, or see whether your university offers transfers for new international students. Find out when the best time to book the cheapest flights is with our handy guide.
Know exactly what your airline’s baggage allowance is
If you’re on an international flight, you’ll usually be permitted between 23kg and 30kg of hold luggage, plus a bit of hand luggage – find out exactly how much you can take onboard with you before you fly. Doesn’t sound like enough? Remember, you might be sharing a room or living in a small space, so you won’t have much room for endless pairs of shoes or all your favourite jackets. If you’d still like to pack absolutely everything you own then make sure you check with the airline you’re flying with for their specific hold luggage limits. Alternatively, learn to travel light with with these 15 top tips.
Prepare for studying in the UK and pack sensibly
It’s not as sunny in Sheffield as it is in Sydney, nor is it as cold in Northampton as it is during New York’s winters. But it sure does know how to rain in the UK! Pack warm layers, waterproofs, and weather-proof shoes. You should also consider where you’ll be travelling to while you’re over this way. Will you take the opportunity of having Europe on your doorstep to prop up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or will you be heading north to see the Northern Lights? Ski weekends in Val D’Isere? Weekend sun in Barcelona? Bring basics, and any specialist equipment you might need, like a skiing jacket or swimwear you can always buy here – we’re pretty good at high street shopping and have loads of vintage boutiques to rummage around in.
Don’t forget your adapters
International adapters can be used in both the UK and all over Europe, so buy a few before you leave. The UK uses a three point plug, whereas most of Europe uses a rounded, two point plug. UK power points tend to be around 220 Volts, and 50Hz.
Print and prepare your documents
Although your flight ticket and visa are probably electronic, consider printing off the following: your offer letter from the university you’re going to be studying at, proof of address for the last five years (or letters from previous landlords), travel insurance documents, and copies of your passport. That way, if your phone runs out of battery, you can’t access WiFi or need printed proof, you’ve got it, and can easily set things up like a bank account in the UK when you land. You should also make sure your passport has plenty of validity for your trip.
Want to learn more about saving money for studying abroad? Check out these travel hacks:
From booking flights to fine dining: find out how to save cash on holiday. Why pay more than you need to on travel?
Fed up with waiting for your luggage at the carousel so you can get your holiday started, don’t want the added hassle of lugging heavy cases around, or even the prospect of unpacking it all at the end of your trip? Well we’ve got a few top tips for travelling with hand luggage only.
There are a few ways of finding low cost flights that everyone knows about – like using a flight comparison site such as Skyscanner, of course. But if you really want to find the best low cost flights you have to know the tricks of the trade.
*Prices correct at time of publication.
Visa information correct as of 18th July 2019, obtained from https://www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa. Please always check the latest guidance at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before booking a trip.