Tag Archives: accommodation

A student’s guide to bills in the UK

Infographic on student billsThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Emma Croke from comparison website GoCompare:

Moving away from home can be daunting, especially when you have never had to deal with paying bills in the UK before. This can be even more so if you are moving to Britain as an international student and everything is unfamiliar. Luckily, GoCompare has put together a handy guide to the bills you will need to pay as a student in the UK. If you are living in student accommodation, you will likely be given a total cost for the annual rent, and some of your bills, such as water and energy, may be covered. However, if you are moving to private accommodation, you will have to organise and pay your bills yourself. This infographic contains a handy list of essential and not-so-essential bills that you will need to consider, and we have some further tips about key areas to look at:

Bank accounts

If you are staying in the UK for longer than a term, then you should set up a UK bank account to allow you to pay bills, transfer money and keep track of spending. There are a variety of student bank accounts available which may offer benefits over a standard current account, and some are specifically aimed at international students.

Mobile phones

Research whether your phone will work in the UK, and if so, how much it will cost to use. If you are not sure the you can look at what mobile phone deals are available.

Budgeting

It is important that you do not fall into debt while at university, so ensure that your incomings cover your outgoings. Also, if you are living in shared accommodation, try to talk to your flatmates or housemates about bills fairly early on. Decide who is going to be responsible for ensuring the bills are all paid on time, and how much each person owes. It is also worth setting a deadline for transferring your contribution several days before the date the bills have to be paid, in case of any payment delays.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Getting Ready for Results Day

A student studyingThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Amy Hirst, a writer for The Student Housing Company:

So you’ve sent off your UCAS application to study in the UK and now you’re waiting on your exam results! With over 400,000 students starting their new lives as undergraduates in Britain every year, there’s never been a more exciting time to apply.

But what about when it comes to results day? How do you keep track of your application and make sure you’ve got the grades you need to start your chosen course? Read our article to find out and to help you get ready for the big day!

Results Day

You can log into UCAS Track to see if you’ve got onto your chosen course. If you’ve achieved the grades you need, your ‘conditional’ offers will show up as ‘unconditional’ and you can celebrate! At this point, your first-choice university will get in touch to let you know what you should do next.

But remember that your exact marks won’t show up on Track. You will need to visit your school to see how you performed in each exam.

If you don’t get the results you want, try not to worry. When you’re just a few marks shy of getting into your chosen university, you can always call them up to see if they will nonetheless accept you.

Clearing

If you don’t get the grades you need, you can still go through Clearing. This is a service that allows you to choose a different course and it’s completely free for international students. Just book a consultation (you can do this via Skype), and your consultant will contact other universities on your behalf.

Once they’ve found a few courses that are suitable for you, just pick the one you like the most and add it as your ‘clearing choice’ on your UCAS account. If you want to find out some extra info about Clearing, read The Student Housing Company’s Uni Application Checklist and you’ll stay one step ahead.

Studying in the UK

As excited as you may be, travelling to Britain can seem daunting. The culture in the UK will probably be different from your own, and if you’re leaving home for the first time, being in a new country might feel scary.

But don’t worry, help is at hand. Most universities have student-support officers available to assist you. There are also plenty of social groups you can join. Whatever you enjoy doing in your spare time, there will be a university society dedicated to it. There are loads of clubs set up just for international undergraduates too, so you can make lots of friends!

Finally, if you’re feeling homesick or overwhelmed by being in a different place, mental health support staff are usually available to talk you through your problems. Make use of them so that you can enjoy your time in Britain!

Whatever you study in the UK, make sure you have fun. Remember that you will be working hard, but you will also develop as an individual. So put yourself out there, make new friends, and enjoy your time as a student.

Get Your Accommodation Sorted

Finding sound accommodation is just as important as getting onto the right course. You need to live in a relaxed and comfortable environment where you can make friends. Find out more about the Student Housing Company’s student accommodation options so you can quickly settle into your new life.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Accommodation Choices for International Students in the UK

This month’s guest blogpost is provided by Amy Hirst, a writer for The Student Housing Company:

Once you have secured your place at university in the UK, it is time to start thinking about your accommodation options. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you follow our advice, you will find the accommodation you need.

The Property

When you are thinking about the type of accommodation you want to rent, consider the following points: does the accommodation provider offer property management or security? Is there an en-suite bathroom or will the bathroom facilities be shared? Is there a good communal space? Will there be a good mix of students to socialise with?

The Location

Location is a very important thing to consider when choosing your accommodation. Use a map to check that you are within easy walking distance of your lecture rooms. Does Google Maps show that you are within walking distance of your lectures? If this is not the case, it is important to look into methods and cost of transport to the campus. Try to find out about the average cost of a bus fare to the campus. Many transport companies offer seasonal ticket deals for university students.

Rent and Other Costs

It is very important to consider your budget when you study abroad. There are costs that you may not think about initially. For example, if you are not a full-time student you may have to pay some Council Tax. You should also consider the cost of insuring your items abroad, whether your bills are included in your rent, and if you will need to pay for any new furniture.

Your Contract

When you enter into a contract it is legally binding so take care to read it in full. For example, if you sign a joint contract and one tenant drops out, the remaining tenants will often be liable for the rent due. It is important to be aware of these details.

Contact Your Accommodation Provider

Once you have chosen your accommodation, get in touch with your university if you have decided to go into halls of residence. If you have chosen to rent private accommodation, contact your future landlord or letting agent to secure your new place. If you are an international student looking for accommodation in the UK and are unsure about the next step to take, you can browse the nationwide accommodation options from The Student Housing Company.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Student questions on the Prepare for Success Question Wall

The Prepare for Success Question WallThis month’s blogpost addresses three questions posted recently by international students on the Prepare for Success Questions Wall:

The first is from Mehmush. Mehmush is an Iranian student, who is currently living and working as a nurse in Italy and who wants to apply for a Masters degree programme in the UK.

The first step in applying for any postgraduate degree programme is to inform yourself about what is available in the area you are interested in. There are some online search portals that can be a useful starting point such as the Masters Portal or Masters Compare. However, you should always follow this step by searching for more detailed information on the university websites of the Masters programmes you are interested in and/or by contacting their Admissions office to request a brochure about the courses you are interested in. Once you are in contact with the university’s admissions office you can also ask about costs, possible scholarships and the exact procedure to apply for the course you choose.

The second question is from a student planning to study in Glasgow and who is wondering where the best place to live is – in halls of residence or in the city?

This is a dilemma that many international students have as there are pros and cons for both living in a university hall of residence or sharing a house or flat with others in the local community. Many universities will offer international students a guaranteed place in a hall of residence to save you the trouble of searching for private accommodation. Others will have an accommodation office, which can help in the search for private accommodation. The situation will be different from one city to another but here are some points to help you consider which is best for you.

In a hall of residence:
• You have the opportunity to meet other students, including those studying on different courses.
• You may pay less rent than in private accommodation of a similar size and location.
• Halls of residence are generally situated close to main campuses.
• Utility bills (e.g. for gas, electricity etc) are generally included in your rent.
• Staying in a hall of residence can help you to feel part of the university community.

In private accommodation:
• You have the opportunity to live and share with friends.
• You may feel more independent and more in touch with the local community.
• You will have to pay utility bills (e.g. for gas, electricity etc), which are generally not included in your rent.
• You can choose an area of the city that you would like to live in and look for private accommodation there.
• You won’t need to leave your accommodation during vacation time.
• You will be able to search for a more competitive rate for rent.

Lastly, there is a question from Peter from Nigeria. He is concerned about certain kinds of advertising (‘Come Along With A UK Study Abroad Programme With Free Visa’). Is it genuine or is it a fraudulent attempt to obtain money? Should he require proof even if it sounds real?

This is a very important question as every year there are numerous scams involving false promises, to extort money from students. You should always be very suspicious of anything that sounds too good to be true as it probably is, and NEVER send money or bank details in such cases. Reliable Information about how to obtain a study visa is available from the UKCISA website or from the student admissions section at the University you are applying to.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Keeping study safe – security advice for international students in the UK

A police helmet
Image courtesy of Robin Hutton (Flickr).

This week’s blog post is provided by freelance writer, Gemma Lovell, and is about staying safe whilst studying in the UK. With crime rates in England and Wales at their lowest level since 1981 (Crime rates UK – The Guardian) it is clear that the United Kingdom is on the whole an extremely safe place to study and enjoy life. According to an official survey conducted in households across the country reductions in thefts in particular led to a considerable decrease in overall crime of some 7 percent during the past year. Despite these encouraging developments it is important to remember that crimes are still committed in the UK, as in other parts of the world, and every individual needs to make personal safety a priority. Here is a condensed guide to keeping safe and feeling confident in your new surroundings.

In any country there are areas people feel comfortable in and those that are better avoided. Getting to know which areas are which is all part of the learning curve when arriving in a new study destination. University support services provide information (British Council: Creating Confidence) and advice on all aspects of life in the UK and this includes guidance on safety issues in their particular area. The police, who are generally regarded as friendly and approachable, are also a useful resource in terms of locational information. Some international students still need to register with the local police within seven days of arriving in the UK – this provides an ideal opportunity to ask any specific questions you may have. Even those who are not subject to this requirement often have the chance to meet the police at briefing sessions delivered as part of university induction programmes.

When going out at night it is important to always have a plan (Student Safety – Suzy Lamplugh Trust). Decide where you intend to go and share that information so a friend is aware of your intended location. Tell them who, if anyone, you are planning to meet and what time you expect to return home. Devise a route and method of transport for the journey to and from the place you plan to visit. Ideally avoid travelling alone but if you have to then use a taxi or use public transport – walking by yourself at night is not advisable. Use a taxi company recommended by the students’ union and always pre-book. Public transport is very safe but at night its use is limited so always sit near the driver (if on a bus) and in a carriage with other people (if on the train). Try not to wait at bus stops or train platforms alone. Most students carry a personal alarm and this is to be encouraged. Nowadays a mobile phone is a standard piece of kit for the majority of the population but make sure it is charged and in credit.

If you do not live in a student hall of residence, it is likely that you will be renting a house or flat. Crime prevention is an important part of protecting yourself and your belongings, wherever you live. Remember to close windows and lock your door if you go out and never leave spare keys in an outside location as burglars are likely to find them. Keep your own keys in your pocket – this means that in the unlikely event your bag is stolen you still have your keys. Mark belongings using an ultraviolet pen with your name and student ID number as well as the college or university name – this will help reconnect you with property should it be taken. For high value items such as jewellery and passports consider installing a small personal safe. Taking out adequate contents insurance either before you travel to the UK or with a suitable insurance provider (see e.g. Quotezone) is also important and yet is often overlooked by the student population. Students in rented accommodation sometimes think that they are covered by their landlords insurance but this is not the case. Each student needs to make their own arrangements in order to protect their property.

If you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being a victim of crime then the first step is to report the crime. In an emergency where someone is at risk of getting injured or a crime is in the process of being committed, call 999. If the crime is of a less serious nature, for example, vehicle theft or property damage then 101 is the number to call. For more information, see Police emergency numbers. Store these numbers in your phone and use them appropriately. If you are the victim of crime and are unable to communicate with the police and other emergency services they will need to contact a family member or friend. Although they may be able to use your mobile phone for this purpose it can be difficult for them to know who to call. A useful tip is to decide who you would ideally like to be contacted and store their number in your phone under the name – ICE – which stands for ‘in case of emergency.’ This can save time and confusion in emergency situations.

Studying in the UK is exciting and rewarding – taking these sensible security measures ensures it is safe as well.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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How much will it cost me when I am in the UK?

This week’s blog post is in reply to a question from a student about the likely cost of day-to-day living in the UK. Budgeting for your course fees and living costs while you are studying in the UK will be an important consideration for most international students. For some students, certain aspects of living in the UK may be much more expensive than their home countries. Before you come you might wish to check out prices in some online supermarkets in the UK to find out how much you will need to budget for food. Other key considerations will be accommodation and possible transport costs (e.g. bus to Uni).

The UKCISA website offers very useful guidance about preparing for living costs in the UK. It also provides information about bringing cash with you, currency limits and travel insurance. Other possible costs to consider are medical insurance and contents insurance.

Another very helpful resource is the International Student Calculator. This is an interactive tool to help you work out how to manage your money and build a budget for living and studying in the UK in advance.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Could you give some ideas for accommodation – should I stay in university residence or rent outside with someone?

Halls of residenceToday’s blog post is in reply to a question from a student on the Question Wall:
“Could you give some ideas for accommodation – should I stay in university residence or rent outside with someone?”

As an international student you may need to decide where to live during your studies in the UK. Many UK universities will offer international students a room in a hall of residence – this can be convenient and removes the work of searching for a place to live in the town or city. A hall of residence may be located on- or off-campus but all costs will usually be included in your rental fee.

The most common alternative to this is renting a shared house or flat with other students. You may feel more immersed in the local community if you choose this type of accommodation but you will also need to budget for other costs such as utility bills (e.g. electricity and gas use).

There is likely to be detailed information about the accommodation choices available to you on the website of your college or university, or you can contact the accommodation office. Some useful information for international students about living in the UK, including detailed information about paying rent and other costs and signing a contract, can be found on the Choosing accommodation page on the UKCISA website.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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