Tag Archives: email

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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BYOD – Bringing your own device when studying in the UK and getting connected

A student using their own deviceThis month’s guest blog post is by Andrew Davey, Technology Specialist in eLearning from the University of Southampton. In it he looks at some of the steps international students may need to take when bringing their own devices, such as personal laptops or tablets (iPads or Android), to use at a college or university in the UK.


Most UK institutions have on-site computing facilities. These provide support to students and staff across campus in getting networked and using the institution’s online services and licensed software. Some of the instructions for getting your own device networked will often be online, so once you have an institutional username and password (usually the same as your email login details), you will be able to log in and follow instructions to access services. Students often bring their own devices to classes or lectures in the UK to support their studies and use them to work online also when not being taught. For these reasons, it is important to get your device connected as soon as you can after you arrive.

Accessing University resources off-campus

You may wish to access resources such as a personal filestore when you are away from your institution. It is important to have access to this and other services such as the library while off-campus and studying at home. This will usually be possible through a ‘Virtual Private Network’ or VPN, which allows you access to systems as if you were using an institutional device. Your institution may provide an app for ease of connecting to the VPN, or a set of instructions may be available.


In the UK, email underpins much of the communication between tutors and students on their courses. You will need to check your institutional email account on a daily basis in case there are any important messages from your teachers, department or the university in general. Spam emails can be a problem in most institutions so when using email accounts, avoid opening attachments from unknown sources. Some emails may contain a virus or spyware, which can help give hackers access to your accounts. Always make sure you have an up-to-date virus scanner installed on your device. You may be able to obtain one for free as part of an institutional licence, or you may have to purchase one separately.

The institutional VLE

Your institutional VLE (virtual learning environment) will be an important place to locate module and course information. Find out which VLE our institution uses and familiarise yourself with as soon as you have your institutional login. Blackboard and Moodle are both popular VLEs used in the UK. To find out more about how VLEs are used by course teachers, look at this learning resource: Preparing for Online Study.

Social Media

If you have any social media accounts, you may also wish to connect with these to your department or University by ‘following’ them on Twitter or ‘liking’ them on Facebook. For study tips and academic guidance you can follow @PfS_website on Twitter or Prepare for Success on Facebook. For general advice about life and study in the UK you can also follow @UKCISA.

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 online when you arrive on campus

Apps on mobile phones
Image courtesy of jfingas (Flickr).

This week’s blog post considers how to make the most of the online environment at your university or college.

When you arrive in the UK and begin your course of study at a UK college or university you will need to get used to going from one place to another on a daily basis, between buildings, across campus or even between campuses if your place of study is a large one. The teaching timetable will require that you quickly get to know the location of lecture theatres, seminar rooms, computer workstations and possibly labs, and of course, administrative offices, the library and student union facilities (including shops and restaurants) as well. Don’t worry! Even if at first you get lost, you can ask other students for directions and it won’t take you long to learn.

However, for some aspects of your study programme you will be able to save time and effort by using your institution’s online facilities. Your library will almost certainly have an online website and online catalogue which you access from anywhere, log in and use to search for course books and other materials that you need to read or reserve to collect later.

Setting up and regularly checking a university or college email account is very important and one of the very first things to do after you arrive. Your lecturers will often contact you by this means to make you aware of important dates and events for your course diary. Your institution’s administration will also use it to contact you. You may be able to arrange an appointment to see your tutor by sending a polite and clear email (although some tutors prefer to use a signup sheet on their door to show when they are available to see students individually).

It is very likely that your college or university will have a downloadable and dedicated institutional app for your phone. This can be customised by you, and may provide information while your are on the move about your timetable, the library, campus maps, local bus times, your modules, student news and social events and much more. Find the computer support service on your institutional website to find out how to download the app.

So after you have physically arrived on campus, don’t forget to get yourself online!

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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