A practical guide to moving to the UK as a student

Studying abroad is the experience of a lifetime. You’ll have an untold number of opportunities, make friends, grow your network and broaden your horizons. But there are nerves too – and lots of questions before you start packing your bags.

So, if you’re considering moving to the UK to study for a pre-sessional English language course, a degree, or even a PhD, we have some top tips.

Read on to explore our short guide to studying in the UK for international students.

1. Setting up a bank account

Unless you plan to stuff your money in your mattress (not recommended), you’ll probably need to open a bank account in the UK. The process is usually completed in one or two days and is much simpler if you do it once you’re living in the country.

If you’re a student and come from abroad, you’ll need to show the bank a number of things before you can open your account, including:

  • A valid passport and visa;
  • Proof you are studying in the UK (your student ID or a letter from your university);
  • Recent proof of address in the form of a utility bill that’s less than three months old (e.g. electricity bill);
  • A bank or credit card statement that’s less than three months old.

Note that the requirements may differ from bank to bank and you may also need to show proof of employment. Some banks, like HSBC, also allow you to set up your account in your own country before leaving for the UK.

2. Student accommodation in the UK

You have two main options when it comes to student accommodation in the UK:

On-campus accommodation

In the UK, on-campus student accommodation is often referred to as living in halls. When you apply to live in halls, you are given a room in shared accommodation. Your room is usually private, however you will often share bathrooms, kitchen and other communal areas with other students.

Living in halls is recommended if you’re coming from abroad. Not only does the university manage the housing, but it will be easier for you to find a place with other students.

Shared student accommodation

You can also opt to go through the university and find a place in privately rented accommodation. Second and third year students usually choose this option and move in with friends. Generally, this type of housing has been approved by the university, but you will be responsible for paying rent to a private landlord.

Ask your university admissions department or student services about the right option for you.

Alternatively, you may wish to rent privately, through a real estate agent. However, this is likely to be a far more expensive option and you won’t necessarily have university support.

Average student rental prices

The cost of living in the UK varies from region to region. According to a Save the Student survey in 2021, average rent for students in the UK is £146 per week.

Here’s the breakdown of costs:

  • Scotland: £127 per week
  • Northern England: £122
  • Wales and the Midlands: £119 to £129 per week
  • East Anglia: £132 per week
  • Southwest: £147 per week
  • Southeast:  £146 per week
  • London:  £152 per week

Living cost in the UK for international students

On top of rent, you also have to consider how much food, leisure, transport and other expenses will be. Our handy guide to living expenses in the UK for international students, outlines the following, and also compares costs in different cities:

  • Groceries – £100 per month
  • Going out – £46 per month
  • Transportation– £46 per month
  • Household bills (like electricity and water) – £37 per month
  • University tuition fees for international students – £10,000–£38,000 per year (Reddin survey of university tuition fees)

3. Health care systems in the UK