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Navigating as International Student in the UK: A Guide for Success

Author:    Preethy Kurian, Crosspay   |   March 27, 2024

Welcome to the United Kingdom, a hub of academic excellence and cultural diversity, where international students worldwide come to pursue their dreams. As an international student, it’s essential to understand the financial aspects of studying in the UK to ensure a smooth and successful journey. 

The UK is a popular destination for international students from various places, including India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Far East, and Bangladesh. According to research by the Migration Observatory, in 2020/21, more than 600,000 international students were enrolled in higher education institutions in the UK, making up 22% of all HE students. However, financing your studies and day-to-day expenses can be overwhelming, so we have created this friendly guide to help you manage your arrival effectively. 

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room: the cost of living. While the UK offers a world-class education, it’s no secret that living expenses can be high. As an international student, you must budget for tuition fees, accommodation, food, transport, and other expenses. According to the UK government, the cost of living in the UK for international students varies depending on where you study. The monthly cost of living is approximately £1,265 in London and £1,015 outside London. It’s essential to note that living expenses in London are higher than in other cities like Manchester, Leeds, Wales, and Scotland. Therefore, it’s advisable to research the cost of living in the specific town you plan to study in and make a budget accordingly. 

Next to consider is accommodation costs. Depending on the institution, you can opt to stay on or off campus. University halls or private housing are the two options available. Accommodation costs vary, ranging from £515 to £848 per month outside London, while in London, university residence costs an average of £727, and private housing costs £848. When budgeting for accommodation, it’s important to note that fees may or may not include utilities such as electricity, water, laundry, Wi-Fi, and gas.  

Transportation costs in the UK should also be factored into your budget. The cost of transportation across UK cities varies, with London being the most expensive (£56 per month on average). However, travel cards for students offer a discount, and it’s recommended to use public transportation like coaches and trains. (The amounts mentioned were correct at the time of writing. Please do your own research for current values.) 

After arriving in the UK, taking care of some essential things to settle in quickly is crucial. Here are some things you should do when you arrive: 

  1. Find a General Practitioner (GP) for healthcare services. 
  2. Locate affordable accommodations, preferably close to your institution. 
  3. Familiarize yourself with the currency exchange process and find reputable providers like Crosspay. 
  4. Get a National Insurance (NI) number, which is crucial for accessing public services such as healthcare. 
  5. Register with a local library and online marketplaces to access textbooks and other course materials. 
  6. Get a sim card or access affordable data plans for communication. 
  7. Understand the culture and customs of the UK. 
  8. Make friends and socialize with fellow students to create a support system that helps you settle in. 

Familiarizing yourself with the services available to international students and contacting student support offices for guidance is recommended. 

Finally, the question on most international students’ minds: how much can you work to support yourself? A student visa issued for full-time degree level studies allows you to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time, including paid or unpaid work for one or more organizations. You should not exceed 20 hours per week, as it violates your visa and could affect future visa applications. It’s essential to maintain a balance between your studies and work. Additionally, international students are entitled to benefits and exemptions. They may even be eligible for a refund if they overpay their taxes. The UK government provides comprehensive information on tax obligations for international students. 

Simplified Financial Solutions for International Students 

Simplified Financial Solutions for International Students

Managing your studies, settling in, and finances as an international student can be challenging. Still, companies like Crosspay aim to simplify at least one step of the process. With competitive rates for currency exchange and low-cost international transfers, Crosspay provides a seamless solution for international students’ financial needs. Their multilingual support team ensures that students from diverse backgrounds can access assistance with currency and transfer requirements. 

In conclusion, international students embarking on their educational journey in the UK should be well-prepared for all aspects associated with studying abroad. By understanding living costs, settling-in tasks, work limitations, university requirements, and available financial solutions, students can navigate their studies successfully and focus on their academic and personal growth. The UK welcomes you with open arms, and we at Crosspay wish you a fulfilling and prosperous experience! 

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