International Student Support

Students from China and India preparing to make their visa applications and  traveling to the UK - view the short films

Additional Resources:

UCL Pocket Student guide

International Student guide

Free English classes  flyer

Opening a UK bank account

Affiliate Student notes

Affiliate Students

You are an "affiliate student" if you are coming to UCL as a student on a Study Abroad (JYA), Erasmus, Independent Affiliate or other exchange programme.

Your Personal Tutor at UCL video

Transition Mentor Programme video (undergraduate students)

Study Abroad at UCL video (affiliate students) 


Useful links:


Information and resources for students who cannot attend the ISOP Sessions & Events.

UCL Student Support and Wellbeing Services Introduction Video

Information provided at the ISOP Sessions

Official Welcome from Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International)

I am delighted to welcome you to UCL, and look forward to meeting you in September. Like you, I’m new to UCL – I joined as Vice Provost (International) in May this year. I’ve lived and worked in London, Mexico City, Paris, New Delhi, Pretoria and Cape Town, so I know how exciting and daunting it can be to settle into a new city.

London has a huge amount to offer, and so does UCL – London’s Global University. You are joining a community of students from 150 nations and of staff who come from over a 100 countries around the world, in a cosmopolitan city where over 300 languages are spoken. At UCL, we offer a research-led, interdisciplinary education in an international context.

We want our students to develop as global citizens, professionals and leaders, understanding the perspectives of others and contributing to others’ understanding of the world. We encourage you to explore the opportunities provided through our dynamic Volunteering Services Unit (VSU) and through UCL Advances which supports student entrepreneurship, all of which can help you branch out from UCL itself to other communities in London.

Congratulations on what you have already achieved academically in order to win a place at UCL, one of the top 20 universities in the world. This guide to the next stage of your learning journey is designed to help you settle in and make the most of UCL and of London. I wish you every success during your time with us at UCL, and hope that it proves to be transformative for you, and for the local and global communities we live in.

Dame Nicola Brewer

Vice-Provost (International)

Welcome from UCL Student Union (UCLU)

UCLU is the representative body for University College London students, founded in 1893.

If you are a University College London student you are automatically a member of UCLU.

We are led by ten full-time student sabbatical officers who are elected by you in a cross-campus ballot each year. UCLU is a registered charity and we exist to provide you with a range of services to support and help you develop your skills and interests while you are at UCL. Our services include:

Rights and Advice Centre

We are a free, confidential and independent advice and support service for all UCL students. Our trained and experienced advice caseworkers can give you advice about:

  • Immigration
  • Academics
  • Housing
  • Money
  • Employment
  • Many other legal and university matters


UCLU has a range of facilities available for students including four cafés, three bars, two shops, a venue, a gym, and a hair salon.

Events and Activities

UCLU put on bar nights at UCLU, club nights at top London venues, annual balls on campus, tours around London, trips to UK cities and much, much more….

  • London Living Fair
  • Give It A Go
  • Events Calendars
  • Volunteering and Public Engagement

Clubs and Societies

UCL students currently run over 200 different clubs and societies through UCLU, providing a wide range of extra-curricular activities for you to get involved with during your time at UCL.

Meet London Metropolitan Police: your personal safety in London

The London Metropolitan Police Service do an excellent job keeping London among the safest large cities in the world. Still, it’s up to us all to ensure we’re safe from petty crime and that we are obeying the laws of the United Kingdom. The Met was kind enough to provide some tips for newcomers to England.

  • In London, thieves frequently operate at tube stations, at cash machines, in car parks, around bus stations and in overcrowded areas, especially in rush hour.
  • Don't keep all your valuables in one place and don't carry large amounts of cash around with you.
  • When you are out and about, don't leave your bags unattended anywhere in London. As well as attracting pickpockets, you could also create a security alert.
  • In restaurants, bars or theatres, keep your bags where you can see them, not on the floor or over the back of your chair. In crowded areas such as a bus or underground train, try wearing them in front of you, not over your shoulder.
  • When withdrawing cash, don't let others see your PIN number.
  • Don't be distracted by your surroundings and be aware that criminals may try to divert your attention.
  • Register your pocket electronics (phone, iPod, iPad) FOR FREE on Then, when police officers stop and search suspected thieves, they can check the serial number on the immobilise database and track you as the owner so that you can be reunited with your property.

Reporting a crime

If you are a victim of crime, or to report anything to the police when it is no longer an emergency taking place there and then, dial 101 or visit a police station. In an emergency, always dial 999 straight away.

A word of warning…

  • It is a criminal offence to carry weapons in the UK, even if carried for personal protection (this includes knives).
  • It is a criminal offence to be in possession of any illegal substance, e.g. cannabis.
  • Unlike some other European countries, it is illegal to carry CS or pepper spray (Mace) in the UK.

Further information for international students

We recommend that you read the personal safety guide produced by British Council.

Would you like to assist the Met Police in keeping England safe?

Training to be a special constable with the Metropolitan Police Service will equip you with the necessary skills and capabilities you need to be there for London. What’s more, it will help you develop and boost your confidence.

Special Constables:

  • Wear the same uniform as regular police officers
  • Have the same powers and responsibilities
  • Volunteer 16 hours of their time a month

Information from Transport for London

When you think of TfL, it’s not just the Tube that should spring to mind. TfL, created in July 2000, brings together all of London’s transport systems under one controlling body. That means that the TfL is responsible for…

  • The Underground
  • 22,000 Black cabs and 50,000 licensed minicabs
  • The DLR
  • London Overground
  • Tramlink
  • 580km of roads and 6,000 traffic signals
  • River Services
  • Dial-a-Ride
  • …and the list goes on..!

You can find the best route to your desired location by going online and visiting the TfL Journey Planner and you can get up-to-the minute information on buses online too. For up-to-date news about service changes, you can even follow @tflofficial on Twitter.

Oyster Cards

An Oyster Card is a plastic smartcard you can use instead of paper tickets. You can put Travelcards, Bus & Tram season tickets and pay as you go credit on it. Oyster is the cheapest way to pay for single journeys on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London.

You can:

  • Store credit to pay as you go
  • Set up Auto-top up so you never run out of credit
  • Add Travelcards if they're for longer than a day
  • Add Bus & Tram Passes
  • Protect your card from loss or theft

You must touch your Oyster card on the yellow card readers when travelling. This is so we know where your journey started and ended and can charge you the right fare if you're using pay as you go. If you don't touch in and out you may pay a maximum Oyster fare of up to £8.80.

As a UCL student, you can apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard to save 30 per cent against the price of adult rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes.

Tube Etiquette

On the platform:

  • Stand behind the yellow line on the platform and allow passengers off the train before boarding.
  • If you drop anything onto a train track, never try to retrieve it. Always ask a member of staff for help.
  • Don't board a train if you feel unwell.

On the train:

  • Move down inside the car, allowing others on behind you.
  • Keep everything clear of the doors. Even small or thin items, such as coats or bag straps, can prevent the doors fully closing and will delay the train.
  • In an emergency, use the passenger emergency alarm.
  • If you feel unwell, seek help at the next station - don't use the passenger alarm between stops. Staff can assist you more quickly at the station.
  • Follow the instructions of staff in the event of any emergency - they are trained to keep you safe. Give up your seat to anyone needing it, especially older or disabled passengers, and pregnant women.
  • If you feel concerned about your safety, move to a carriage where there are other people.

Safe Travel at Night

  • Travelling in London at night is generally safe. There are now more Night buses than ever with 117 routes all with CCTV.
  • The last Tubes currently leave central London around 00.30 Monday to Saturday nights, however, on 12 September 2015 we will launch our night time Tube service. The Night Tube will support London's 24-hour lifestyle by offering a round-the-clock service on Fridays and Saturdays, on five lines: the Jubilee, Victoria, and most of the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines.
  • Transport for London funds over 2,500 uniformed police and police community support officers to patrol London’s transport system.
  • Only licensed taxis (cabs with an orange light displaying the word 'TAXI'), can pick up passengers on the street. You can also find taxis at designated taxi ranks.
  • If you're using a minicab, it must be booked through a licensed minicab firm. Use the Cabwise text service to find your nearest cab office. Simply text the word 'CAB' to 60835 and GPS will be used to text you your two nearest minicab numbers and one taxi (black cab) number. See for further details. You can also search for licensed minicab operators in by using TfL’s online service.
  • Taking an unbooked minicab home after a night out is dangerous. Any minicab journey that isn’t booked by phone or in a minicab office is illegal, unsafe and puts you at risk of crimes such as sexual assaults and robbery.
  • When using a minicab make sure the driver can confirm your name and destination before you get in the car, and check the driver’s photo I.D.

Your Learning and Development at UCL

Learning at university level needs an independent approach, especially in a UK research-intensive university like UCL. To get the most benefit, you need to take charge of your learning journey as an active explorer, rather than waiting passively for things to start happening as if you were a passenger on a bus or train.

It is important for you to engage productively with the freedom and responsibility that is available in this kind of education. This is not just a ‘be responsible’ pep talk, but is a call as you start on this new path to think about what higher learning really is. It is not just more of what has come before, it may be a whole new game.

You will have come to this point with many years of education behind you, but it may be that you have never had occasion to think deeply about the nature of learning itself - like water to the fish, or air to the bird, it is transparent to us, and yet it is worth gaining insight into your own learning process, and to learning in general, in order to be more effective in it. I like to suggest that all learning is language learning, whether that be the language of mathematics, science and engineering, humanities, law, social science, medicine or whatever your field.

Language gives lenses and tools with which to engage with the world of ideas and of professional practice. But you will know from experience that you do not learn a language by absorption, just listening and remembering. You learn a language by speaking in it, by conversing and using it in practice.

Don’t be shy or embarrassed about this; everyone here is a learner, whether they are a student like you or a researching academic. This is a learning community and your full participation in the learning and development conversation is vital for the health of the whole. This process of active engagement is at its heart a creative one. In speaking, you effectively map out the world as you explore landscapes that are new, at least to you. So, as the author of your own learning purpose and process, you are profoundly responsible - it can be no other way.

Important learning happens both within and outside the academic programme of classes and subject study. UCL provides access to resources and opportunities for self-directed learning and development alongside the formal curriculum. An important resource is for personal and professional development of the skills and attributes that will help you make the most of your degree programme and improve your employability. You can take a look online at the UCL Personal and Professional Development website and familiarise yourself with what’s available.

Jump in, participate, contribute. UCL awaits and welcomes your unique contribution!

Accessing health care in the UK

The National Health Service (NHS) is the healthcare system in the UK and is primarily funded through general taxation rather than requiring insurance payments. Some NHS services are free, others you need to pay for.

NHS treatment free for everyone:

  • accident and emergency services (but not follow-up treatment, or admission as an in-patient to hospital)
  • family planning services
  • diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections

What is a GP?

General Practitioner (GP) is a doctor who sees patients with wide range health problems. For most health problems, the GP should usually be the first doctor you consult. If you have a complicated problem or an illness that requires specialist advice the GP may refer you to a specialist clinician. If your GP prescribes medication, you will be asked to pay a statutory NHS prescription charge (currently £8.20 per item).

Seeing a doctor in the UK

The UCL Health Centre, also referred to as Gower Place Practice, is an NHS general practice located on the UCL campus which provides general health care, a contraceptive service and a full nursing service.

  • You can register with them if you live in one of the local postcodes which they cover, and are registered to a course that lasts longer than 6 months.
  • If you are on a course of less than 6 months, you can still see a GP as a temporary patient if required.
  • If you live outside the catchment area, you can find your local GP on the NHS website.
  • See our Health Advice section for further details.

When to register with a GP?

We strongly recommend that you register with a GP within the first few weeks of arriving in the UK. This will enable your GP to process your registration and provide you with an NHS number in good time. You are required to have an NHS number in order to obtain hospital treatment (non emergency) and if you need to be referred to a specialist clinician.

Finding a GP practice near you

You can register with the UCL Health Centre if you are on programme that lasts longer than 6 months and you live in one of the local postcodes which they cover:

NW1, NW3*, NW5, NW6*, NW8, EC1, EC2, EC3, EC4, WC1, WC2, N1, N4, N5, N6, N7, N8, N10, N11*, N13, N15, N16, N17, N19, N22, W1, W2, W8*, W9*, W10*, W11*, SW1, SW3, SW5, SW7

Note – not all streets in postcodes marked with * are eligible for registration, if you live in one of the * postcodes please discuss with the reception team.

If you live outside UCL Health Centre’s catchment area, you can search for an NHS general practice near you on the NHS website. You can also look for a local dentist on this website.

Documents you need in order to register

Most GP practices will ask to see proof of your address in the UK in order to register you. The UCL Health Centre will request to see proof of your address in the UK (you may use your Statement of Student Status) and your UCL identity card at registration, which means that you will only be able to register with them after enrolling on your programme of study at UCL. You are also required to complete their registration form before attending the UCL Health Centre in person.

Is my spouse and/or child eligible for NHS treatment?

If your spouse and/or children under 16yr (or up to the age of 19 if they are in full-time education) are staying with you for the duration of your programme at UCL, they will also be eligible for NHS treatment on the same basis as you.

Medical Insurance

  • If you are only studying in the UK for 6 months or less and you have a short-term study visa, you will need to obtain private medical insurance as you will be liable for any NHS health services that you use.
  • If you are an EU/EEA student, or a non-EU student studying in the UK for more than 6 months, you may wish to consider private health insurance as well as there can be long waiting times for some NHS services. With private medical insurance you can also ensure you are covered for other medical-related costs that are not covered by the NHS. However, medical insurance is not compulsory and is your decision whether you wish to purchase it or not.
  • UCL does not endorse or recommend a specific insurance company, however the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) recommends Endsleigh Insurance.

You can find further information, including how to obtain more of your prescribed medication, accessing dental treatment and vaccinations you need to have before starting at UCL, on the UCL Health Advice webpage.

Advice on budgeting and funding

When moving to a new country to pursue a degree, it’s important to remember to consider your finances – what will your expenditures be? How can you budget to ensure you will be able to afford your outgoings? Are you entitled to receiving any financial support from UCL? Which banking institution should you choose here in the UK?

What will my outgoings be?

Aside from your tuition fees and your travel to the UK, you should expect to have the following costs:

  Per Year (40 weeks) Per week (40/52 weeks)
Rent £6280 £157 (average)
Food £2000 £50
Household goods £400 £10.00
Insurance £66 £1.66
Personal Items £2280 £57.00
Leisure Items £1000 £25.00
Travel £896 £22.40 *
Books and Equipment (Includes laptop) £600 £15

*Travel can vary according to where your accommodation is located. This is the price for a weekly zone 1 Student Oyster pass.

Tips on budget and saving

  • Master the currency – get a currency converter
  • Prioritise your essential costs
  • Create a weekly budget plan (try to stick to it!)
  • Compare prices and quality -
  • Cook with friends to split the costs
  • Walk instead of using public transport
  • Get online – e-bay, Amazon, Freecycle
  • Buy used textbooks, borrow, or use the Library
  • Shop the sales
  • Brew your own coffee and carry it in a thermos, Starbucks and Costa cost a fortune!

Student Discounts

In addition to your NUS card, you can also get an ISIC (International Student Identity Card), which will extend your student benefits to your international travels. Plus, if you already own an NUS card, it can be yours for the discounted fee of only £6! Visit for more information about the money-saving discounts available exclusively to students.

Money-Saving Advice

There are plenty of free services available that can help you get your budget and your spending in check. Any of these websites can provide valuable knowledge if you’ve got a question that needs answering:

If you need help

If you find yourself in financial difficulty, seek help immediately. Financial problems will not go away if you ignore them, they will get worse!

British Banking

There are multiple international banks in the UK, and while UCL does not endorse any bank, we do recommend students open a British bank account as soon as possible to make money management safe and easy for our students. A few UK banks are:

  • Lloyds
  • TSB
  • Barclays
  • HSBC
  • Santander
  • Natwest

It is important to note that many students will be opening a bank account in September and October so the process may take a few weeks.

Banking Terminology

There’s a chance our banking lingo may sound completely foreign to you. Have a read to be sure you understand your banker!

  • Cash Card – allows you to access your money 24 hours a day using a cashpoint
  • Debit Card – allows you to spend money without withdrawing cash from your current/student account
  • Overdraft – an agree extension of credit when you account reaches zero
  • Direct Debit – regular automatic monthly payments of different amounts each month. (e.g. phone bills, gas, water etc.)
  • Standing Order – Regular automatic payments of the same amount each month. (e.g. Rent)

Opening a UK bank account is by far the safest and most effective way of managing your money as an international student. However, the process can often be quite long and complicated so it important that you are patient, prepared and keep the following points in mind prior to setting up a bank account:

  • In September many other students will be opening a bank account at the same time as you so the process can take several weeks to complete.
  • Banks in the UK follow their own rules and identity checks which are completely separate from UCL. In order to keep your money safe, banks are very restricted in the ways they communicate with customers and in terms of their processes. This means that you need to attend a bank in person, meet with one of their advisors and sometimes complete a paper application form in order to open a bank account.
  • You may need to visit the bank more than once to set up your account.
  • UCL has no influence over the types of accounts banks offer to students, the documentation they require or any other of their processes. We don’t recommend any specific banks and it is up to you to decide which bank you would like to open an account with.
  • If you are on a programme of 6 months or less, it may not be possible to open a bank account in the UK

With this in mind, it is important that you bring sufficient funds to cover initial expenses for your first month in the UK. For safety reasons, it is not a good idea to bring large sums of cash; look for alternative options such as using Travellers Cheques and paying tuition fees online.

UCL provides information about the types of accounts offered by the banks around campus and what their requirements are for opening an account. Take a look at our Opening a UK bank account document for details.

All of the information provided on this webpage can be viewed as a pdf by clicking the following link: Opening a UK bank account.

You can find information about opening a UK bank account on the Preparing for your arrival webpages .

Meet the Volunteering Services Unit

The Volunteering Services Unit (VSU) is UCLU’s dedicated facility for students who want to get involved with volunteering projects in the local community. They are here to match you with the right opportunity, and you can give as much or as little time as you can spare.

UCL students revealed that volunteering helps them develop new skills, improve their chances of getting a job and makes them feel more settled at UCL and within London. Some students also gain a new perspective on their studies or get a chance to pursue their extra-curricular interests.

The VSU has over 500 active volunteering opportunities across London. They also run a big ‘one-off’ programme, so even if you cannot make a regular commitment you can still get involved. Equally, you can get more involved and put more hours in. They are flexible and will try to meet your individual needs.

The VSU works with over 400 charities, community and voluntary organisations and non-profit organisations. They work with a diverse range of organisations and there is huge variety in the roles on offer, everything from befriending to website design. The VSU also supports students who want to take things further and set up their own volunteering project. They can offer training, advice, guidance, support and funding.

You can find more information on the VSU website.

Meet the Careers Service

Want to work in the UK? Not sure how to get started? There’s a lot to know – legal issues, taxes, job options, how to write a CV… fortunately, UCL Career Services is available to assist you in your job search!

As an International student on a Tier 4 Student visa, you are able to work 20 hours per week during term time and full time outside of term time. There are no restrictions for EU students. Some exceptions may be made concerning internships or placements that are part of your course. Please note that some international students will not be able to work – this will concern you only if your passport is stamped “No work”.

As an employee in the UK, you are required to have an NI (National Insurance) number. This is a personal number used to track your national insurance contributions. (NI is a compulsory tax.) To apply for an NI number, call Job Centre at 0845 600 0643 to make an appointment. At your appointment, you will need to provide evidence of your identity, address and student status and complete an application form. You may commence work prior to receiving your NI number, but you will need to obtain one as soon as possible.

You can look for jobs at the UCLU JobShop online, the UCL JobShop, the University of London Temp Agency, Volunteering at UCLU, and plenty of online job and temp agencies. Local newspapers or shop windows will often advertise available positions as well. Keep your eyes open – you may find work opportunities anywhere!

Many students wonder whether they should work while they study. While some opt not to due to heavy work loads and time constraints, those that do work experience a range of benefits (besides a paycheck).

  • Development of transferrable skills (teamwork, problem solving, time management, leadership, commercial awareness, etc…)
  • Improves CV and interview answers
  • Clarifies career options
  • Builds contacts and gain exposure to UK job market
  • Benefit job search in home country

You can visit Career Services for advice on legal issues, taxes, job options, how to write a CV, and much more! Career Services can be found at:

UCL Careers Service
4th Floor, ULU Building, Malet Street
Opposite: Waterstones Bookshop
Appointments Mon-Fri - 10am-5pm
Book online or on 020 3549 5900

Meet London Nightline

London Nightline is a confidential listening, support and practical information service for students in London. You can talk to Nightline about anything - big or small - in complete confidence.

The Nightline volunteers, who are students themselves, have undergone extensive training and understand that university life in London isn't always plain sailing. They won't judge you or tell you how to run your life: they'll simply listen to whatever is on your mind.

You will be offered help to talk through the issues you are facing, but what Nightline cannot do for you is give you advice. They don't believe it is their right to tell you how to run your life or what course of action to take because often they won’t know the whole story, and what is right for one person may not be right for another. Sometimes people just need the opportunity to talk things through and come to their own conclusions, to work out how they feel and what they really want, and Nightline can help you do just that.

You can reach Nightline from 6pm to 8am every night of term via telephone, Skype or e-mail:

  • 0207 631 0101
  • Skype username: London Nightline Chat
  • You can find further information on the Nightline website.
  • You may also like to check the Samaritans website for immediate confidential listening support.

Page last modified on 01 aug 15 18:11