Frequently asked questions
Moving to study in another country is an exciting and life-changing experience. It also requires a lot of preparation and can even feel a bit overwhelming at times.
Below are answers to some questions that we frequently receive from new international students, which hopefully you will find helpful for your arrival:
- What is the International Student Orientation Programme (ISOP)?
The International Student Orientation Programme (ISOP) aims to help make the transition into life in the UK and studying at UCL as smooth as possible for new international students.
Although optional, ISOP is free of charge and attendance is strongly recommended. All non-UK students are invited to attend and can register as part of the pre-enrolment process. You will receive a comprehensive programme of events after you have registered.
During ISOP you will have the opportunity to complete your in-person enrolment and attend the 'We Are All Global' talks designed specifically for our new international students (both EU and overseas).
Students' Union UCL will also be running a range of social events and campus tours during the week. See their website for further information and to book.
Affiliate students will also have the opportunity to attend their Meet Your Department session, which is an opportunity to visit your admitting department on arrival and discuss course choices with your Affiliate Tutor and/or administrator.
- What is pre-enrolment?
Pre-enrolment is an online service which involves you adding your personal details on Portico (the UCL Student Information Service). When you complete pre-enrolment, you should be given a choice of in-person appointment times. You should then attend at that time in order to complete your enrolment at UCL.
Only students who have firmly accepted an unconditional offer to study at UCL will be invited to pre-enrol.
When pre-enrolment starts, assuming you have met the conditions above, UCL will send you an automatic email inviting you to pre-enrol and will provide further information on how to do this.
To ensure you receive all correspondence on time, it is essential that you provide UCL with a valid personal email address which you check regularly.
Step-by-step information about the process of becoming a student at UCL is available on the New Students webpages.
- How can I collect my BRP?
This information is only applicable to students who have applied for a Tier 4 Student visa outside the UK.
You must pick up your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card before the vignette (temporary visa) in your passport expires, or within 10 days of your arrival in the UK, whichever is later.
If you have selected to collect your BRP from UCL at the visa application stage, your BRP will be delivered to us directly. Our Visa Compliance team will then contact you by email when it is available for you to collect, and will provide further details on when and where to do this.
If you have not selected to collect your BRP from UCL, it will be sent to a post office, and you will be sent further details.
If you have not yet applied for your visa and would like to collect your BRP from UCL, you will need to enter an Alternative Collection Location (ACL) code as part of your visa application. The ACL code for UCL is 2HE484. You should enter this code into the Alternative Location field in the BRP Collection Page on Visa4UK. Make sure the collection location is shown as follows: University College London c/o Immigration Compliance Team, Student & Registry Services, Institute of Education Building, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL.
You must collect your BRP before you can enrol.
For further information about the Tier 4 application process please visit the UCL Immigration & Visas website.
- How do I enrol and what do I need to bring with me?
As part of pre-enrolment, you may have selected an in-person enrolment appointment. If so, it is important that you attend enrolment at the time allocated to you and bring all the necessary documents with you.
If for some reason you are unable to keep your enrolment appointment, you will still be able to enrol. However, you may be required to wait, as priority will be given to students enrolling by appointment.
If you did not select an in-person enrolment appointment, you should follow the instructions given to you in the pre-enrolment confirmation email.
All students should be able to produce their Student Reference Number on request. This can be found on your offer letter from UCL, so please take a copy of this with you (you can also show the offer letter on your phone).
- A valid passport or alternative form of photographic identification (European National Identity Cards are accepted).
- For students from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, a valid passport is mandatory.
- Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), if you have a Tier 4 student visa.
- If you are enrolling while your visa application is in the process of being considered, you must provide copies of your passport details page and your previous leave to remain in the UK, as well as any acknowledgement of your visa application you may have from the Home Office.
- If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you might need an ATAS certificate. Please see our ATAS page for further information and a list of departments/courses that require this.
- If you have applied for a Short-Term study visa, you will need to bring a printed copy of your visa application with you to enrolment.
UCL is not permitted to allow students to enrol without the correct documentation so please make sure that you have all the required documents before you travel.
- How can I pay my fees?
There are several ways in which you can pay your fees. The easiest is to use Payonline, the UCL Online Payment system for tuition fees, residences and other charges.
Full details on the various payment methods available can be found on the New Students website.
Fees can be paid in advance of enrolment, at enrolment or at the latest by 31 October each year. A minimum payment of 1/3 is required by 31 October although the full amount may be paid. Second instalments are due by the following 07 February and third instalments are due by 02 May
You will be able to see your Fee transactions (amounts, deadlines etc.) via Portico.
- Do I need to register with the police?
Some nationals are required to register with the police. Check your visa and all documentation provided with it to find out if you need to do this.
You only need to register with the police if there are instructions to do so on the 30-day entry clearance vignette in your passport or your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), or if you have been informed to do so in writing by the Home Office/UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
In London, police registration is handled by the Overseas Visitors Records Office (OVRO) based at 323 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1JL.
You will need to visit OVRO in person to complete your police registration. Please see their website for details of the documents you will need to submit.
- Do I need to have any vaccinations before coming to the UK?
Yes, you are strongly recommended to have the following immunisations before coming to UCL:
- Meningitis – All university students (under 25 years) should be immunised against Meningitis (ACWY). All freshers (first year undergraduates) are now advised to have a Meningitis (ACWY) booster if they were less than 10 years of age when they received their first Meningitis C injection.
- MMR - MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). Before starting higher education students should have two doses.
If you have not had these immunisations, Ridgmount Practice may be able to provide them, if you meet the eligibility requirements. It is best if this happens within the first two weeks of term, so contact Ridgmount Practice as soon as possible upon arrival if you have not had your vaccinations.
Additionally, some students may also be required to have a tuberculosis (TB) test. Please see the gov.uk website for further information.
For further details on the UCL Health Centre and registering with a doctor, please see our Health Advice section.
- How do I access medical care in the UK?
Medical support is provided by the National Health System (NHS) and co-ordinated by General Practitioners (GPs). As such, you should register with a GP as soon as possible after arriving in the UK, if you are able to do so.
If you are on a programme of study of 6 months or less, you may not be able to register with a doctor, but you can still visit one as a temporary patient if required for advice and treatment.
If you are not eligible to register with a GP, we strongly recommend that you purchase private medical insurance before travelling to the UK.
If you are on a programme of study of 6 months or more, you may be able to register with Ridgmount Practice if you live within its catchment area. Please see their website for instructions on how to register. If you are unable to do this, the NHS offer a search tool to find a GP surgery that covers your address, where you should then be able to register.
Unlike in some other countries, GPs are also the primary point of contact for any mental health issues in the UK.
Pre-existing Medical Conditions
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it is advisable to ask your current doctor to write a letter explaining your treatment and any medication you are receiving. You should pass this letter on to your GP in the UK to help ensure consistency of treatment. Bear in mind that if you are currently taking medication, you may not be able to obtain exactly the same medication in the UK.
Most people in the UK pay for prescriptions, at a fee of £8.40 per item. You may be eligible for free prescriptions if you are aged under 19 and studying full-time, or if you meet other requirements.
You can find a dentist that will accept NHS patients using this search tool. If you require dental treatment, you should call dental practices near you to see if they are currently accepting patients, and then make an appointment.
Most people in the UK pay for dental treatment. As an NHS patient, fees will be substantially lower than seeing a dentist as a private patient. You can find out more about fees for dental care on the NHS website.
Any information you provide to your GP or any other doctor is treated as completely confidential and is not shared with UCL, current or future employers, your family or friends.
Further advice can be found on our Health pages.
- Should I declare a medical condition or disability?
If you have a medical condition (including a mental health condition) and/or a disability you may be eligible for certain adjustments either for examinations, or for assessments or in the provision of teaching and learning.
In the UK, the term ‘disability’ covers a very broad spectrum of health issues and impairments and we recommend that you check the information on the Student Disability Services website to see if there is any support they offer that may be available to you.
You don’t have to declare your disability to UCL, however it is strongly recommended that you do so, in order to be able to receive the appropriate support.
We recommend that you declare your disability as early as possible before you start your programme at UCL to ensure that Student Disability Services have sufficient time to contact you with information and advice about the support they can offer you.
If you have not declared your disability as a part of your application to study at UCL, and you would like to do this, this can be done via their online form.
Whether you have been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, have a mental health difficulty such as anxiety or depression or you are concerned about how you are feeling, we encourage you to contact Student Disability Services where you can have a confidential meeting with our Mental Health Specialist.
Support includes but is not limited to:
· Regular one-to-one meetings with the Mental Health specialist for continuing support.
· Twice weekly drop-in sessions at the disability office where there is no need for an appointment – Monday and Wednesday 2pm-4pm.
· Support applying for special exam arrangements if your symptoms impact your ability to take exams – such as smaller venues for examinations, additional time, or rest breaks.
· Advice and guidance, for both you and your department, about the potential impact of your mental health difficulty on your studies and how this can be accommodated.
· Regular one-to-one support from a specialist mental health mentor to assist with planning and managing your studies.
Any information disclosed to Student Disability Services staff is treated confidentially. This information will not be shared with student sponsors, employers, family members or friends.
- Should I get insurance?
Some students (including those whose programme of study lasts for less than 6 months and who have a Short-term Study visa) will need to obtain private medical insurance. Private medical insurance may be recommended for other students, as there can be long waiting times for some NHS services and it may cover you for treatment not covered by the NHS, but it is not a requirement.
If you are an EU student in the UK, in most cases you (and any family members) are required to have comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI). A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is acceptable if your stay in the UK is to be temporary and you are strongly recommended to obtain one if you are eligible. For more information on the different ways of demonstrating CSI, see our healthcare information.
We would strongly advise you to insure your personal possessions, regardless of where you will be living whilst attending university. The UKCISA website provides more information on private medical insurance.
- How can I find accommodation?
UCL Student Accommodation offers several types of residence to UCL students, as well as suggestions for alternative accommodation. See the UCL Accommodation pages for further details. If you have any queries about UCL-managed accommodation, please contact our Student Accommodation team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 7679 6322 and they will be happy to assist.
Private rented accommodation can also be a good alternative. University of London Housing Services offer a range of support to those students at UCL and other London universities who choose this option. Please visit their website for much more advice and information on the services they provide. Alternatively, you can reach them via email at email@example.com or call +44 (0)20 7862 8880.
Visit our Accommodation page to find out more.
- How can I open a UK bank account?
Opening a bank account in the UK is the safest and easiest way to manage your money while you’re here. If you are on a programme of 6 months or less, it may not be possible to open a bank account in the UK, although Santander may allow you to do so.
It is important that you bring sufficient funds to cover initial expenses for your first month in the UK, in case you are not immediately able to open a UK account. For safety reasons, it is not a good idea to bring large sums of cash; look for alternative options such as using Travellers Cheques or pre-paid cash cards and paying tuition fees online.
The accounts available are largely similar, and will give you access to a debit card, as well as online and telephone banking. If you're unsure which bank to choose, consider any additional features they may offer such as an overdraft facility or discounts, or you may wish to choose a bank you are familiar with. We advise you to do some research in advance.
In order to open an account, most banks will ask for proof of address. Most should be able to accept the Statement of Student Status, which will be given to you when you enrol. If you are staying in a UCL-managed hall of residence, your hall may be able to provide you with a separate letter confirming your UK address.
IMPORTANT - Updating your address
To ensure that the documentation required by banks (such as the Statement of Student Status) is correct, you need to add your UK term-time address to your student record on Portico as soon as you know it, and before you attend your in-person enrolment appointment. Watch this video to guide you through the process.
The exact documents you will need to provide will depend on the bank. See our bank account page for more information.
UCL has no influence over the types of accounts that banks offer to students, the documentation they require or any of their processes. We do not recommend any specific banks and it is entirely your decision which bank you would like to open an account with.
- How can I save money during my studies?
London is a famously expensive city, but there are always ways to save money! Visit our Money matters page for tips on how to economise while at UCL.
Student discount cards
Full-time students are eligible for an NUS Extra card, which entitles the holder to a wide range of discounts on fashion, entertainment, technology, food and much more.
The NUS Extra card costs £12 for one year or £32 for three years. Applications are made online.
NUS Extra cards come with a one-year free ISIC (International Student Identity Card), which allows you to prove your student status worldwide and grants you access to further discounts and benefits.
- What is an Oyster card?
An Oyster card is an electronic ticket that is used on public transport throughout London. Travelling with an Oyster card is cheaper than using a paper ticket and we would recommend you get an Oyster card when you arrive in London. You can buy an Oyster card at Tube stations or online (once you arrive in the UK).
You can load money on to an Oyster card and use it on a pay-as-you-go basis, or you can purchase a season ticket, known as a Travelcard (daily, weekly, monthly or annual).
After you have completed your enrolment at UCL, you may be able to apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard, if you are a full-time student on a course lasting at least 14 weeks. This provides a 30% discount on Travelcards. Transport for London (TfL) has full details on the eligibility criteria and the application process to get one of these 18+ Student Oyster Photocards.
Please note that if you choose to live close to UCL, you may not need to use public transport as frequently. If this is the case, it may be more economical for you to use a standard Oyster card on a pay-as-you-go basis. You can compare fares on the TfL website.
- What is a 16-25 Railcard?
A 16-25 Railcard (sometimes also known as a young person's railcard) gives you 1/3 off the price of most train tickets on the National Rail network, including commuter train services in London and longer services to other towns and cities in the UK.
Anyone between the ages of 16 and 25 can apply for the Railcard, as can any full-time students over the age of 25.
Applications can be made online, or by completing the paper application form available to collect from major London train stations. Mature students will need to prove their student status. They can do this by filling out the paper application form and taking it to the Student Centre on campus to be stamped.
The 16-25 Railcard costs £30 for one year or £70 for three years.
Linking your Railcard and your Oyster
You can link your 16-25 Railcard to your Oyster card (either a standard Oyster card or an 18+ Student Oyster photocard), in order to get a 1/3 reduction on the price of off-peak pay-as-you-go travel on the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Peak fares apply Monday to Friday from 06.30 to 09.30, and again from 16.00 to 19.00. If your Railcard is linked to your Oyster, you will have discounted pay-as-you-go fares at all other times.
To link your Railcard and your Oyster, you should first register your Oyster card in your name online. Then take both cards to a ticket office in a London Underground or National Rail train station, and ask for the cards to be linked.
- When should I arrive?
You should arrive in time for your enrolment appointment, which will be confirmed when you complete your online pre-enrolment. Enrolment will take place as part of the International Student Orientation Programme (ISOP) on Saturday 6 January.
If you are staying at UCL managed student accommodation, you will be able to move in from Tuesday 2 January onward.
It is likely that you will not be able to start opening a bank account, setting up a mobile contract or registering with a doctor straight away. To do this, you will need to first complete your in-person enrolment at UCL and use the Statement of Student Status provided to you when you enrol. If you are on a programme of less than 6 months, it may not be possible for you to open a bank account or register with a doctor. For further details, see our bank accounts and health advice pages.
- Is there an airport transfer?
UCL doesn't operate an airport transfer but we offer detailed guidance on how to get to UCL from any of London’s global hub airports. You will find that London’s extensive public transport system is convenient and easy to use. You can also book yourself a transfer with an external company called Silver Shuttle. This service is very popular with students and is used by many of London's universities.
See our How to get to UCL from the airport section for further details.
- What do I need to bring with me?
We’ve put together an Essentials Checklist which provides details of things you need to do whilst preparing to come to the UK, and things you need to bring (and things not to bring!).
- Where can I buy things I need when I arrive?
When you arrive there are a number of things you may want to buy straight away - bed linen, towels, food, toiletries – take a look at our Shopping section for details of where you can get hold of all these essential items.
- Should I get a mobile phone?
Getting a UK mobile phone is the best way to keep in touch with your new friends in the UK. You have several options to choose from – Pay Monthly, Pay as You Go or SIM-only. Take a look through our Keeping in Touch section for further details on your options and tips on how to find the best deal for your needs.
- How can I access WiFi at UCL?
Eduroam, is a free wireless (WiFi) service which is available throughout the UCL Campus. The Information Services Division have put together guides on how to connect to the UCL WiFi from various devices – take a look at their guides here for details on how to connect with your device.
Please note that in order to connect to Eduroam, you will need your UCL userid and password, which you will have set up as part of the pre-enrolment process.