Most importantly, make sure you hold a valid British Visa which lasts the duration of you entire course. More information can be found on the UK government’s website.
You should open a UK bank account once you reach the UK. As an international student, you might end up needing to apply at a branch but you can try to do it online first.
To apply, you will need to get an enrolment certificate signed and stamped by college as proof of address. Only the High Street banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Santander) will accept this certificate, so if you want to open an account with an online-only bank (Starling is the best, followed closely by Monzo) you will need to get a High Street bank account and then use that bank statement as proof of address. Online banks have better apps and lower fees on things like foreign transactions, but sometimes it can be useful to have access to a physical branch, so having both is a good idea.
Many banks have ‘student accounts’ with an ‘arranged overdraft’ (which allows you to borrow money by letting your account go negative up to a certain limit) but these are usually not available to international students (you need to have lived in the UK for 3 years).
To get the enrolment certificate you need to have completed your university registration, which can take a few days. Therefore, make sure to bring a foreign debit card and/or some pounds in cash. Make sure your card has low or 0% foreign transaction fees and note that Mastercard has slightly better exchange rates than Visa.
To transfer money from your own currency into pounds, use an online specialist like https://wise.com/ rather than a bank (it’s faster, safer and way cheaper).Wise also lets you open a multi-currency account, which can have a bank account number from most countries assigned to it and comes with a debit card that you can use to pay in any currency. You can set this up before you leave your home country. It’s also useful for any other times you need to travel so definitely check it out.
Working out what to bring to Oxford can be a challenge with limited baggage allowances on international flights. Some things to avoid (unless you really want your ones from home):
• Bulky items you can buy in Oxford like cookware and stationery (go to WHSmith or Ryman for stationary, Robert Dyas for cookware and Tesco has a little bit of both)
• Bedding (college provides this)
• Lots of books. Libraries have most books or otherwise will order them in on request,and there are plenty of great bookshops around town!
See our “what to bring” section for further advice. Remember, England is cold!
You will need a UK phone number. To get a phone plan you need a UK bank account, but to get a UK bank account you need a UK phone number, so start by getting a prepaid sim card (you can get one from Tesco). Once you have a UK bank account, you can get a phone plan and transfer the number from your prepaid SIM to your new plan SIM. O2 has bad reception in college but Three and EE are better. Smarty has good cheap plans and runs on Three’s network but look around to see what works best for you.
Depending on your current mobile phone plan at home, it might be a good idea to transfer your home mobile number onto a cheap prepaid plan with a long expiry (e.g. 365 days). This will allow you to keep your home mobile number without needing to continue paying for an expensive plan you might not use much. Your own situation will depend on the rules of your current phone plan and how much you will need to use your phone when you are back home over the next year, but it is something to think about.
Further Inofmration from the University:
General information: This includes important information about things like registering with a doctor and – for students from some countries – registering with the police.
Getting a UK bank account: This goes into more detail on some of the aspects of opening a bank account discussed above.
EU and Brexit: This is a page with information and FAQs regarding the impacts of Brexit on EU students.
Moving to the UK can be a little daunting, you will notice English people do everything differently: drive on the left side of the road, overuse the word ‘sorry’, different plugs… but remember everyone is feeling exactly like you, university is a new experience for everyone and soon you will strangely be calling the UK and college home – Adelita, Engineering