By Vighnesh Namathodu Thyagarajan, MSc Computer Systems Engineering with Management, Department of Informatics
If you are an international student coming to King’s College London, I know exactly how you must be feeling. Whilst you deal with balancing your excitement with your anxiety, here are a few things you need to sort out before you set out into the most exciting journey of your life.
It’s best to get started as soon as possible rather than leaving things until the last minute. My personal eight best tips below:
Ensure you have the finances to fund your degree. If you don’t have ready finances available, there are multiple options you can explore. King’s Fees and Funding website is the place to go. There are many funding and scholarship opportunities which you may be eligible for, and you should definitely explore the possibility of an education loan to fund your study.
2. Student Visa
Depending on the country you are from, you will need to apply for a visa to study in the UK. Enough information and updates are always available at King’s and the Government of UK website, for example, this article on Brexit. Non-EU nationals will have to apply for a visa to study in the UK. If your course lasts for more than six months, you’ll need a Tier-4 (general) student visa. It is better to apply as soon as possible as it takes a few weeks to hear back.
3. Student Accommodation
I strongly urge you to get your accommodation sorted as early as possible much before landing in the UK.
King’s Student Accomodation website provides you with a wide variety of student accommodation offered by the University. You are likely to get your student accommodation close to the campus you will be studying, if and only if, you apply beforehand.
The following are the points to keep in mind once you land in the UK.
Note: You should remember to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) before the said date on your visa. Often, the BRP can be collected at King’s while collecting your ID card during the welcome week.
4. Health Insurance
Make sure you register yourself with the NHS. King’s College London has an in-house NHS health centre for King’s student and staff.
5. Student bank account
Setting up a bank account can be a lengthy process. It will take at least a few weeks to fully set up and use your account. A lot of banks offer great benefits to students. It’s worth spending the time to know which bank works best for you. You will need a status letter from the University (Confirmation of Study Letter) in order to open a bank account in the UK.
Transport can be a bit daunting during the first few weeks. King’s is accessible via any mode of public or private transportation. You may consider using the local bus, tube or bike. If you are thinking about the bus or the tube, read about the student oyster card which will give you discounts on your travels.
7. Student Discounts
Making the most of your student discount should be your top priority. I am writing a few key points here but in reality there are many.
- ID card: Just carry it with you all the time. Flash the card in every store and ask them if there is a student discount.
- Totum card: Can be used to avail yourself of lots of student discounts both in the campus and in the city.
- Student Oyster – If you are using the tube to travel to the University, Student Oyster is a must have.
- 16-25 railcard (if using National Rail): If you are a student who commutes using national rail, make sure to use a 16-25 card. The card gives you a third off on your ticket price.
- Unidays, StudentBeans, and VoucherCodes – Mobile App to get great deals on various shops and restaurants.
8. Have fun
Amidst your assignments, coursework, job hunt and thesis, find some time to explore King’s Student Union and find out about the many societies at King’s of which you could be a part. Moreover, London is one of the best cities in the world. Make the most of what the city can offer you. Make a lot of friends and explore different places around the UK.
I hope that these tips were beneficial to an extent. Wishing you the very best for your postgraduate studies.