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Accommodation, Travel, and Stay in the UK: A Guide for International Students

Abhijeet Singh Abhijeet Singh
Content Curator

After the student visa is approved, a student can start making travel plans for their study in the UK. International students can arrive in the UK one month before the start date listed on their CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) letter. International students have to complete the checklist, go through immigration, and arrange for a place to stay before they arrive in the UK. They will also have to make sure that they have sufficient funding for at least 9 months to support their study and living expenses in the UK.

In this article, International students who are going for their studies in the UK can find more details about the accommodation, travel and transport facilities available in the United Kingdom.

Pre-Departure Checklist for an International Student to Travel to UK

Students should make a checklist of documents needed at the time of departure from their home country and on arrival for their study in the UK to avoid chaos at the last moment, the following documents should be kept handy and copy of all these in luggage:

  • Passport and visa
  • Flight tickets and any other travel documents
  • University documents including CAS
  • Cash or travelers’ cheques or debit/credit cards
  • Evidence of financial support for fees and maintenance
  • Evidence of Health Insurance.
  • Travel insurance
  • Accommodation details
  • Letter from the local guardian(if the student is a minor)

Arriving at the UK Airport

When arriving in the UK, International students will have to pass through immigration control. There will be two queues. One for the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals and the other for everyone else. The passport and visa/entry clearance will be checked by the Border Force Officer.

In order to clear the immigration process on a Tier 4 student visa, international students must carry the following documents in paper form:

  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter
  • A letter from the local guardian stating that they are the student’s guardian

The Border Force will put a date stamp in the passport if they are satisfied that the student is coming to the UK to study.


International students have to pass through Customs Control after collecting their baggage. All the luggage will be checked to see the things carried are in compliance with the duties and taxes imposed on imports and exports.

Students coming to study in the UK will also have to fill up a declaration form on their arrival. Students should make sure that they declare all their belongings and provide complete information.

Accommodation Options for International Students in the UK

The UK is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Depending upon the country and the course opted, International students will have a variety of options whilst they stay in the UK. They must choose the best option considering the following factors:

  • Availability of halls of residence/on-campus accommodation
  • Ability to pay
  • Location of the university/college

The average cost of living in the UK for an international student excluding accommodation is 113 GBP per week. An average student accommodation rent is around 164 GBP per week.

On-Campus Stay

Residence Halls

Most of the universities and colleges in the UK have on-campus Residence Halls. International students have to apply for the same during their application process.

Most of the universities in the UK also have the rule that a freshman has to stay on-campus in the residence halls. Halls are large buildings, sometimes divided into flats where students have either a single room or on a sharing basis.

  • The design of the room is basic. Communal bathrooms will be provided in case there is no en-suite bathroom.
  • Halls have basic furniture like a bed, desk, and chair. Students have to make arrangements for the rest according to their needs.
  • Most halls have canteens that supply food (at a cost) to the students

Self-catered halls

Self-catered halls are like the residence hall. The only difference is that students get the freedom to cook their own food according to their own schedule as there is a kitchen available.

Off-Campus Stay

International students can opt to stay off-campus in the UK from their 2nd or 3rd year of the course. Students opt for sharing apartments/houses with their friends and classmates.

The average cost to stay off-campus is 400 GBP per month. The cost can vary largely depending on the city and living cost in that particular locality. Students will have to sign a tenancy agreement to stay in a house or apartment.

Travel and Transport in the UK

Traveling in the UK is very easy, the UK is well connected with various forms of transport. These include several train lines, airports, cycle paths, underground subways, and roads. However, traveling in a foreign country requires a lot of research, especially for international students since they have all kinds of constraints from time to money.

With regard to finances, there are many funding options to study in the UK for international students. While most of us know about tourist attractions and historic places in the UK, visiting the places is made easy by the facilities available in the UK

Cycling- International students can buy a second-hand bike or rent a bike in the UK. Students will have to register their bikes with the National Cycle Database.

Trains-Most towns in the UK have train stations. 16-25-year-old students can get a 30% discount on train travel in the UK by buying a Young Persons Railcard (30 GBP).

Underground- Students can use the underground- ‘the Tube’ if they visit London. Buying a student Oyster card will be beneficial as it gives a 30% discount to the students.

Buses-Buses are the cheapest means of transport to travel in the UK. In London, students will need a bus ticket in advance or a student Oyster card to travel.

Trams-A few cities such as Sheffield, Manchester, Edinburgh operate trams. Similar to buses, pay varies between cities. Students can get special travel cards to travel to trams.

Coaches-These are larger buses for longer journeys. A lot of companies offer very cheap tickets for long distances including to countries outside the UK.

Domestic flights-UK has more than 20 commercial airports. It is a quick and sometimes more affordable means of transport for international students.

Traveling Outside the UK During the Course

International students will require a Schengen visa to visit other countries in Europe. In case a student loses his/her passport or BRP, they will not be allowed to re-enter the UK and will be required to apply for new permission to enter it. It may take a few weeks and cost 184.05 GBP.

So, all international students must-

  • Keep the paper copy and photograph of the passport, student visa/and BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) separate from the travel documents.
  • Leave the passport, BRP and spare money in the safe of your hostel or hotel, if available.
  • Inform the institution and/or local guardian about the travel plans.

Work while studying in the UK

International Students can work for up to 20 hours a week during their studies in the UK and full-time during the holidays to help support their studies. This only applies if the international student is studying for a degree course at a UK higher education institution for longer than 6 months. Students must contact the International Office at their University/college for further information.

Traveling Outside the UK After Your Course

Traveling outside the UK after the course is complete will be at students’ own risk. There will not be any guarantee that students will be allowed to re-enter the UK on the same visa. To re-enter the UK on the same Tier-4 visa, an International student will be required to show that:

  • He/she will be attending the graduation ceremony. A letter confirming the date of the graduation ceremony from the university must be provided.
  • The student is moving to a new higher-level course having successfully completed the course for which visa was issued.

The UK was home to nearly 4.5 million students in 2017-18 accounting for almost 20% of the student population. Living and traveling in the UK is pretty easy for International students. Students must research thoroughly regarding accommodation and traveling once they have decided on the colleges they will be applying for in the UK.

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