Tag Archives: transport

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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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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When do UK universities and colleges have holidays?

This week’s blogpost is in reply to a student who has asked about holidays at UK universities.

UK universities and colleges traditionally have a break three times during the academic year. As many international students are now discovering, one of these breaks is just about to start or may have already started at your institution. For students, the December / January break is often 3 to 4 weeks in length. It takes place when two key festivals occur in the UK – Christmas and New Year. Its exact start date and the date when you are due back to resume studies will vary from one institution to another so it’s important to check this if you plan to go off travelling for the period. If you are not travelling and intend to carry on with independent study during this period, you will need to check when any key buildings such as the library and computer workstations might be closed. They may be open for restricted hours during the vacation period but most will certainly be closed for a few key festival days. Teaching and administrative staff are generally still around and in their offices for a few days after most students have left for the vacation.

There is also a holiday in March / April. This falls around the time of Easter and varies slightly from one year to another. The summer holiday is the third and longest one although for many postgraduate students there are still dissertations to be written or PhD research work to be done during this period.

There are also a range of so-called Bank Holidays in the UK. These are one-day holidays which occur on a Monday so extend the weekend. If you would like to know when these occur in 2015, look on the official UK Government website.

Regarding public transport during vacation periods, if there is a local bus service which is run specifically for students attending your institution, you may find that once a vacation period begins, a new timetable applies. National public transport (long distance coach services and train services) do not operate on Christmas Day (25th December) and have restricted services on other feast days and/or bank holidays.

The Prepare for Success team would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas break and a peaceful new year!

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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