International Students: Everything you need to know when moving to the UK

Newsroom 04 Jan 2023 / 10 mins read

By Roome, of Roome

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Introduction to being an international student

Having recently surpassed 600,000 international students pursuing higher education, the UK has proven time and time again that it is an eye-catcher in terms of quality of education and university prestige. However, the journey to secure a spot at a British university can be viewed by some as arduous and time-consuming, especially after Brexit.

Having that in mind, our team at Roome has decided to compose a comprehensive list with tips to guide you through and help you tackle the main issues that you may encounter as you get your foot in the door to UK education.

Do I need a visa to study in the UK?

Yes. If you’re an EU or international student, you may need one. With student visas, you’re allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week if you are studying full-time for your degree. In terms of when you should look to apply, you can apply at earliest 3 months before your course start date if your course is less than 6 months long or apply 6 months before the start date if the course is 6 months or longer, with a decision usually within 3 weeks.

You can find further information on this here.

Tip: For documentation information or any general queries, it’s always a good idea to see if the UK Government website answers them for you. We find their website very easy to understand and straight to the point. www.gov.uk

Visa to study in the UK

Useful resource here

 

Do I need to take an English proficiency test?

UK universities ask international students (from non-English-speaking countries) for IELTS (mainly) or other tests such as TOEFL. For IELTS, a minimum overall grade required can vary between 6 and 7. Such tests may be required as part of your visa application, so be sure not to do them twice if not necessary.

Tip: Always make sure to contact the universities you’re interested in to make sure you know exactly what they are looking for in a typical applicant, and especially if you have any questions. Be on the same page as your target university. 

Should I do a Foundation Year? What is it?

You need to contact the universities you’re interested in to see if they would take you on directly or if they would prefer you to join their foundation programme. This decision will normally be made based on your qualifications and grades, and it will vary depending on which university you speak to.

There are two types of foundation years offered by universities:

For international students: International Foundation Year, which generally involves studying your chosen subject or broad area, as well as teaching necessary English to progress smoothly into university level. Even so, you may be required to take an English proficiency test, albeit with a lower grade requirement than that needed for direct entry to first year. 

This course comes at a fee ranging from £10,000 to anywhere around £25,000, depending on your chosen organisation. Keep in mind that there are many scholarships and loans offered to international students specifically that may help you to cover your costs.

For British students: Foundation Year, which generally involves studying your chosen subject or broad area to prepare you for your chosen course. The fee for this course usually is within £9,000 or some as little as £7,000 for the year.

Foundation Years are known as the Year 0 at university and are designed to break students into university life as best as possible so that there isn’t as much of an initial shock. You will usually have the same access to university resources as normal students, but international foundation year students will sometimes come under a partner organisation, which may teach you either on or off campus.

Can I study at a school instead of stepping right into university?

If you choose not to do a foundation year, you may do A Levels, BTEC, Access to Higher Education or other courses offered at schools/colleges; you will not need to complete a foundation year if you achieve the required grades by the university you choose. Studying some of these courses sometimes incur a fee, but there are also loans, grants and scholarships available.

Tip: Just like with universities, make sure to contact a variety of schools and colleges of further education to help you decide which course you should take. The organisation you are allowed to join will sometimes depend on your age, which is another good reason to start a dialogue with chosen places.

Will I be eligible for Student Finance? How does it work?

If you’re a UK or Irish citizen or have settled status, you will be able to get full student finance (tuition and maintenance loans) for eligible courses if you’ve lived in the UK for at least three years before the first day of your course. You can apply on the UK government website.

You’re eligible for a tuition fee loan if you’ve lived for three years or more in the UK, EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland AND have either Irish citizenship or have pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme whilst being an EU national or a family member of one.

Tuition fee loan: help to pay the course, where the money goes directly to your organisation.

Maintenance loan: funding for other things like food, rent and clothes which is deposited into your bank account.

More information on eligibility criteria here.

Tip: Even if you are a British citizen, you may be considered an overseas student if you haven’t lived in the UK for the past three years, therefore incurring international student fees for most courses.

Who can I contact for help with applications?

Feel free to contact UCAS, individual universities and advisors for help with applications for your chosen courses. 

Tip: Universities have specific departments to deal with student queries and will be more than happy to help guide you in the right direction or give you a comprehensive list of documents you need to provide to start the application.

 

How does UCAS work?

In the UK, students apply to university through an online portal called UCAS. You can pick a maximum of 5 universities of your choice to start an application for. Please make sure to read about your course on the university’s website and make sure it is the right one for you. If you’ve studied at a college or school, one of your teachers may be responsible for submitting your application with you, providing you with a reference. Otherwise, you will generally be filling an individual application.

 

What are the deadlines for applications?

The academic year starts in September and ends in August. 

University applications start in early September, ending in mid-October for Oxford, Cambridge, medicine, veterinary science, and dentistry courses, but in the end of January for all other courses. Late applications can be submitted until the end of June, and clearing is from July to October, where available places in certain universities are still free and you can pick which course you would like.

Tip: For deadlines, keep an eye out for UCAS announcements as this is where you’ll be applying through.

Should I translate my international school transcript?

We recommend that you translate your academic transcript with a translator that is a member of a professional body such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) that can provide a reputable translation recognised by universities.

Alongside the translation, you may also choose to pay for a UK ENIC statement of comparability to help your chosen organisation to recognise your level of education and speed up the application process. This will provide you with a certificate stating which UK courses and education levels are most similar to the ones you have taken overseas. Universities are usually prepared in this sense, so this service would be most useful for applications to school or college.

Tip: UCAS offers a .pdf file on their website which explains a wide variety of international qualifications, which can serve to inform yourself as well as other organisations.

Coming to the end of our list, we hope to have touched on many issues that might have been running rampant in your head and clarified them all. Applying to university can be stressful at times, which is why we at Roome have produced this guide to help you out. We are here to tell you that you are not alone, and that we want to be here for you every step of the way.

Don’t forget! There are other exciting aspects of university such as student accommodation and socialising. With that in mind, we have compiled some last few topics you should bear in mind upon starting your course.

Students moving internationally

I finally made it into University! How do I make a good impression on my flatmates/course mates?

In shared accommodation, you can try leaving your door open so that anyone can pop their head in and say hi as you move in. This makes it easy to start conversations between flatmates from day one.

With your coursemates, try to create or join a group chat online for your year and participate in conversations to let people know who you are. This is always a good idea as, further into the year, it may prove to be very useful to get course-specific questions answered as well as socialising!

Tip: Everyone will be in the same boat! It might be hard to start the first few conversations, but this is a process to enjoy and that will allow you to learn a lot about yourself.

What is the best way to find student properties to rent in the UK?

Roome is a new and comprehensive app and website that acts as a friend that will help guide you through the process of renting a place. More and more properties are being added to it and you are sure to find the perfect one for you!

How does university accommodation work?

Universities will always have a list of different accommodation bands thst they have to offer which will vary by price and amenities. Pick the most suitable for you. 

Universities will also sometimes offer family accommodations, for students that are coming with partners and children.

Which type of accommodation should I look for?

If you don’t mind sharing, most university accommodations share facilities such as kitchens and toilets between other students in a flat. Otherwise, self-contained studios will be available, and these will have your own toilet and kitchen. However, laundry facilities will generally be shared. In private accommodation, you can choose from shared houses and flats, either with a group that you know or as individuals, or self-contained properties which contain your own private facilities if you’d rather live alone.

Tip: Most students in the UK start off their first year at uni in halls of residence – shared student accommodation. This provides a very easy way to get to know everyone and form a solid friendship group that may last for years to come.

What is the difference between furnished, semi-furnished and unfurnished properties?

Furnished properties come with all the furniture and appliances you will need, saving you time and money looking for your own items to buy. Semi-furnished properties generally only include white goods and some kitchen appliances (kettle, toaster, etc.). White goods are washing machines, ovens, cookers, fridges, etc. Unfurnished properties come empty, and you will have to buy everything to fill the property. The advantage of this is that you’ll be able to decorate and furnish your place however you like.

Tip: Furnished rental properties tend to be popular amongst students because of how easy and time-saving they are, with no moving of large items necessary. This might be something to consider.

Thank you for reading this post, and we hope to have helped you and provided some comfort during your student adventures. 

 

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Posted by Roome, of Roome

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