United Kingdom Guide

United Kingdom Guide

United Kingdom City Guides

Bath
Bath is the largest city in the county of Somerset and is best...

Birmingham
Birmingham takes its name from the old English words describing an Anglo-Saxon settlement: Birm...

Bradford
Bradford is located in West Yorkshire in the north of England. The city is home to the University...

Brighton
Located on the south coast of England just 47 miles south of London, Brighton is a vibrant place...

Bristol
Bristol – or ‘Brizzle’, as it is affectionately known by the locals – is...

Cambridge
Cambridge is a university city on the River Cam, approximately 50 miles (80 km)...

Cardiff
Cardiff, or Caerdydd if you’re feeling brave enough to try a little Welsh, is the vibrant...

Colchester
Colchester is 51.2 miles (82.4 km) northeast of London, and is less than 30 miles...

Derby
Derby is a city located in the midlands of England. It has a population of almost 250,000 and is...

Dundee
The city of Dundee is located in the east of Scotland in the Central Lowlands, on the coast of...

Durham
The city of Durham is located in northeast England and home to Durham University – the...

Edinburgh
Edinburgh, or Dùn Eideann if interested in picking up Scottish Gaelic, is a small city of...

Egham
Egham is a town in the borough of Surrey, located around 20 miles to the southwest of London. It...

Exeter
The city of Exeter is located in Devon in southwest England, and is arguably one of the best...

Glasgow
Stone Age canoes unearthed in Glasgow suggest this settlement began as a small Celtic fishing...

Guildford
Guildford is an historic market town located in Surrey in southeast England, just 27 miles from...

Huddersfield
Huddersfield is a large town which can be found in West Yorkshire between Leeds and Manchester....

Leeds
Home to actor Peter O’Toole, singer Mel B of the Spice Girls and punk rockers the Kaiser...

Leicester
Leicester is an exciting cosmopolitan city with a proud history stretching back 2,000...

Lincoln
Lincoln is a city in the East Midlands of England, and is home to almost 100,000 people. The city...

Liverpool
People were encouraged to settle in Liverpool in the 1200s by King John who wanted to create a...

London
London is one of the world's largest – and most expensive – cities....

Loughborough
Loughborough may be a relatively small town, but getting a place at the university here is no...

Luton
Luton is a large multicultural town in Bedfordshire, England with a population of around 200,000....

Manchester
Many people would imagine Manchester to be a mere industrial city. But this image has long been...

Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough is located in the northeast of England and is home to Teesside University and its...

Newcastle
Newcastle was established as a defensive settlement along Hadrian’s Wall, built to guard...

Nottingham
Nottingham is more famous for its legends than for its recorded history. The story of Robin Hood...

Oxford
Home to the University of Oxford and its dreamy architecture, including the Bodleian Library...

Preston
Preston is a city located in the county of Lancashire in the north west of England, not far from...

Sheffield
Sheffield is one of the greenest cities to live in the UK, with more trees per capita than any...

Southampton
The city of Southampton is based on the south coast of England and is renowned for its waterfront...

Sunderland
Sunderland is located in the northeast of England in Tyne and Wear. Being a port town, Sunderland...

York
The historic town of York in North Yorkshire has many stunning buildings, such as York Castle,...

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United Kingdom

The UK is the second only to the US as the most popular study destination for international students, with just over 425,000 non-British students enrolled at UK higher education institutions in the 2012–13 academic year.

Getting around

Transport across the UK is generally very reliable. In most cities you will find a good train and bus network that will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. Some cities, for example Sheffield, even have tram routes similar to those in Paris. Ticket prices are dependant on the city itself and you will be able to buy daily or weekly fares that are usually well discounted. As a student in the UK, you will be able to get discounts on many local and national routes. Be careful not to get caught without a ticket, as the fines can be costly!

It is very easy to travel around the UK and it is well worth doing. From the highlands in Scotland, to the beach towns in Cornwall, the UK has plenty to offer. The trains will get you pretty much anywhere... National Rail.

Life in general

Life in the UK is usually a little faster paced than in other European destinations. With such diversity in cultures, each and every city will offer something for everyone.

A working business day is usually 9am–5pm. There are no siestas in the UK which means you won’t be waiting around for the shops to open. Shops operate shorter hours on Sundays, so make sure you get all you need for the traditional Sunday roast before they close.

Food, drink and going out

To tie in with the diversity in culture, the UK offers a huge variety in eateries; from traditional English pubs to Italian, Indian, Chinese and many, many more. The cost of eating out hugely depends on where you go. Look out for the set menus which generally offer three course meals at reasonable prices. For the beer drinkers in you, escape away from the cities to search for the local town pubs which serve a variety of draft bitters from the area.

Each city will vary in its level of nightlife with some cities across the UK well known for their vibrant night lives. Although some can be quieter than others, if you are heading over to study at one of the universities, the surrounding city will have plenty of options for going out. Things generally happen a lot earlier in the UK compared to countries such as France and Spain where no-one is seen out any earlier than 10pm. Pubs in the UK shut at 11pm, and normally 10pm on Sundays. However, bars and clubs operate late licenses and stay open till around 1am–3am. With the 24hr alcohol laws now in place you may even find clubs open all night. Not the best idea before a 9 o’clock lecture! Some bars and clubs also have strict dress codes so make sure you check before heading out that you adhere to their rules. It is normally that you have to wear smart shoes rather than trainers but some can catch you out for not wearing a collar or for wearing jeans.

Remember that after a night out on the tiles, you will need to make your way home. Unless you are within walking distance, be careful because public transport only normally operates until about 1am and you might find yourself having to pay for an expensive taxi home. There are sometimes alternatives depending on the city you are in, for example in London late night buses run certain routes to take home all those who have stayed out dancing the night away.

Telephone and internet

The international dialling code for the UK is +44. Remember to tell your family and friends back home to leave the first 0 off the number as well!

Mobile

As seems to be the international standard, there are two options for getting yourself a mobile phone. If you are staying for a full year or more, you could get yourself a pay monthly phone which will tie you into a 12- or even 18-month contract. Calls and texts are generally cheaper but you can’t simply opt out of the contract at any time. The second and probably better option for a student is a 'pay as you go' mobile. With no contracts and no minimum terms, it is a good option for an international student. If you have your own handset, you will just need to buy a sim card which is usually very cheap and sometimes even free. There are many different operators to choose from, such as EE, Orange, O2, Vodafone and T-Mobile. We cannot specifically recommend any of these services as the pros and cons will change depending on the needs of the individual, however we do suggest that you shop around and look at all available options.

Landline

If you are staying in halls of residence and you have a telephone line in your room, you will simply need to speak to the halls manager in order to get yourself up and running. If you are in private accommodation and are interested in getting a fixed telephone line which can work out much cheaper than a mobile, you will need to firstly speak to the landlord to get the number to the accommodation. Once you have the phone number, there are a number of providers you can try whom often combine telephone connection, internet and television packages. BT, Sky and Virgin Media are just a few of the possibilities available.

Public

If you do not feel the need for internet or a phone line in your apartment then there are always other options. In most towns and cities you will be able to find an internet cafe or a wireless zone nearby. Many of these internet cafes will also offer an international phone service which is usually quite cheap, or alternatively you can use a payphone.

Banks

Standard banking hours are Monday to Friday from 9am–5pm, although opening hours vary from bank to bank, and some banks are open on Saturday.

Opening an account

Opening an account is relatively straight forward in the UK. To set up a bank account you will need the following things:

  • Your passport or another official identity card with photograph.
  • Proof of UK address, for example a utility bill. If you are in university halls, a letter from the university should be fine.
  • Proof of your home address, again a utility bill with your name and address on.
  • If you are applying for a student account, you will need proof of your student status.

Check with your bank in your home country if there is an associated bank in the UK, which may simplify some operations. Some universities will hold open days near the beginning of the year and invite local banks along so that students can sign up for an account there and then. Some of the major banks in the UK are:

Most banks have special offers for students and young people (usually under 26) to attract new young customers. As you can get lower account costs for credit cards etc, it's worth your time to find out about these offers. One such offer includes a 16–25 Railcard, which will give you discounts on train travel across the UK.

Again we suggest that you shop around and find an account that suits you.

Standard services

Check the conditions on your account to avoid bad surprises. Even a few days of overdraft can be expensive with the admin charges that banks can issue. Depending on the bank and your income, there are different overdraft schemes; if necessary, you should negotiate this when opening your account.

Bank statements are usually sent monthly, although sometimes you can opt for more frequent statements. You will be able to get printouts from within the branch itself or the online banking facilities provided by pretty much every bank are very easy to use so you can keep an eye on your finances.

Health

The National Health Service (NHS) is the main organisation that provides health services in the UK.

EU/EEA citizens

If you are citizen of one of EU/EEA countries (which includes all 27 EU members) and moving temporarily to the UK or looking for cover at the start of longer stay, you are automatically entitled to free basic health care due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. Since the 1st June 2004, European citizens who are travelling within the European Economic Area are given a European Health Insurance Card, which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance during their stay in a Member State. The European Health Insurance Card replaces forms E111 and E111B, E110, E128 and E119.

In order to qualify for free health care you will need to register with a doctor in the UK. There will be one local to your chosen university or even inside the university campus itself. For dental and optical checkups, you can get a referral from the doctor to an NHS associated dentist or optician. Treatment may not be free but it will be considerably cheaper than private practices. You may also need to pay for prescriptions. To find your local doctor, use the following links for countries in the UK:

Non-EEA citizens

If moving temporarily from a non-EU/EEA country to the UK, check with your relevant local agency whether there is a bilateral agreement that will cover you. These normally cover only limited urgency healthcare and you are advised to get comprehensive private insurance. If you get private insurance, make sure that they provide cover in the UK, have a local office or partner and read the small print so you know what's covered (and what's not!).

Payment and reimbursement

Whether you are insured or not you will still be required to pay for your treatment and medication up front. Make sure that you keep a record of all treatments and any receipts or prescriptions relating to the treatments which will be required by your insurance company in order to reimburse the money.

Emergency

In an emergency don't worry about insurance, head straight to the nearest hospital. The doctors are legally obliged to treat you whether you are insured or not. It is however left to the doctor's discretion to decide whether it is an emergency or not.

Should you ever find yourself in an emergency situation call 999 (free from any phone). This number covers the police, ambulance or fire brigade.