As an international student starting at a UK University, we are sure that you are feeling a mixture of relief, excitement and anxiety at the moment.
Relief about your results and the fact that you have secured a place on a course at a University in the UK; excitement about the new adventure that lies ahead and a vague sense of anxiety about what you need to do before you go; how will you make your way there? What will it be like when you get there? Will you make friends and will you enjoy the experience?
Well – don’t worry about the last two. Yes, you will make friends and yes, you will enjoy the experience even if it feels a bit odd to begin with. As for the rest of the questions – we can help – here are the things that you need to think about before you head off.
Make sure that you have a valid passport with more than 6 months to run and at least 2 clear pages. You will not be able to secure a visa or to travel without a valid passport.
CAS and Visa
As an international student you will require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK. Your University should have already been in touch with a ‘confirmation of acceptance for studies’ or CAS number. Once you have this number you can apply for your study visa at your nearest British Visa application centre. Print this letter so you have a hard copy to produce wherever you need too.
To secure your visa you will also need to produce documentary evidence that you have enough money to pay the tuition fees and cover your living costs whilst you are in the UK, this normally requires you to produce bank statements showing where the money is.
Short Term Visa
Initially you will be granted a short term visa which lasts for 30 days, this allows you to enter the country and then collect your BRP.
Biometric Resident Permit (BRP)
This permit says what you are doing in the UK and how long you are allowed to stay there. It will be issued when your visa is approved. You will have to collect this permit before you short term visa expires once you are in the UK. Normally you can pick it up from a designated post office near your University or from your sponsor. Your BRP will have digital photo of your face and your fingerprints. You need this document to prove your identity and the fact you have the right to study in the UK.
Check if you need an X Ray or vaccination certificates, sometimes these are required before entry to the UK.
Once you have all of the right documents in place then it is time to book your plane ticket – now you are really on your way! Don’t forget to check out regional airports which may be more convenient than landing in London and then having to travel to another part of the UK.
Make sure that you have all the contact details for your University printed off and safely stored. Your university should have sent this through to you so if you do not have this information now then go into the website, call them and ask them to a support phone number. Also make sure you have your CAS, and your letter of acceptance of study plus information about the course you will be studying. Why print it off? You will need this information when you land in the UK so now is not the time to rely on a phone or tablet that has just run out of battery….
Meet and Greet
Check if there is a meet and greet service from your University – if there is – book it! It will be a great relief to arrive and be greeted by a friendly face and not to have to worry about the onward journey.
If there is no meet and greet – make sure you have planned your route to the University and booked train or bus tickets to get your there. You will be nervous enough as it is without having to worry about how you are going to get there.
University can be a fantastic experience but the more planning you do in advance to make sure things go smoothly the better.