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The Ultimate Guide for International Students Moving to the UK

Posted in Student Accommodation by on September 6, 2019

If you’re making the journey to the UK to start your university career this September, then we know you’re probably feeling both excited and nervous about the prospect. Studying at university is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, but doing it in an unfamiliar country makes things all the more interesting.

Although the idea might seem a bit overwhelming, with some preparation and forward planning, making the big move to the UK can be easier than you think. We know there’s a lot to consider, which is why we’ve created this guide to help you settle in during the first few months at university. From registering with a GP to using local transport, we hope you find this resource useful as you get to know your new home.


Registering with a GP

An African female gynaecologist doctor sharing good news to a young female patient smiling with her arms folded sitting together at a table in a doctor's office in Cape Town South Africa

It’s important to take care of your health during your studies, so registering with a GP (general practitioner) is a good idea. GPs specialise in family health and are qualified to see anyone of any age.

Universities tend to hold sessions for you to register with your nearest health centre in the first week of term, so it’s wise to attend these. Registration is free and once it has been processed, you’ll receive an NHS card which proves you’re entitled to NHS care and treatment.

Note: Anyone studying for longer than 12 months will be required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge so they can access NHS health care. The surcharge for students is £150 per person, per year of the visa, the application for which is completed during your online visa application.

What is the NHS?

You may have heard of the NHS, but you may be unfamiliar with how it works. It’s a publicly-funded system which is paid for through workers’ taxes. Though all UK nationals have equal access to the NHS free of charge, the immigration health surcharge mentioned above helps to fund the NHS.

Where to find your nearest NHS walk-in centre


How do UK holidays work?

You’ll hear the term bank holiday used during your time here. These are days in which most businesses and non-essential services are closed, and occur across the UK. They differ from public holidays, which are holidays observed through custom and practice.

The UK has 8 bank holidays which are as follows:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Early May bank holiday (VE day)
  • Spring bank holiday
  • Summer bank holiday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

Setting up a bank account

If you’re looking to open a bank account during your studies, check out our guide below.


Using your phone in the UK: Find the cheapest international calls

If your phone won’t work here (though it probably will), then consider selling it and buying a new one. What you shouldn’t do is keep your current SIM card in your phone during your studies. You’ll end up paying high charges for both local and international calls.

Buy a new SIM card in this case. For local calls you can go for Pay As You Go SIM cards, which you can top up with credit and are a good way to keep track of your spending. Alternatively, you could opt for a monthly contract, which offers better value for money but requires a bill to be paid at the end of each month.

For calling back home, there are lots of low-cost international call providers popping up, such as Lebara, LycaMobile and RebTel, the last of which offers some calls for under 11p a minute. WhatsApp and Skype are great options, too – although the former isn’t available in some countries.

If you’re looking for a student living experience that offers more, head over to the NIDO STUDENT site or drop us a line on 0207 1000 100 for more information on our student residences.