Banking, healthcare and more

Studying in the UK, how does it differ from home?

When you arrive in the UK as an international student, studying may seem very different to studying at home.
Depending on what you’re studying, what level you’re studying at and where you’re studying you may be faced with having to do things differently than what you’re used to.
For example, you may be responsible for managing your own research and time, instead of being prescribed set work. You may have coursework to complete in your own time, or you may have a number of exams to test your understanding.
We recommend you look at this UKCISA page on Studying in the UK which explains the differences between lectures, seminars, course work and much more! 
You shouldn't travel to the UK or begin a course of study without making sure that you have enough money to cover all your academic fees and living expenses. It's very difficult to make arrangements for financial support once you've left your own country.

Culture shock

After the excitement of the first two weeks has worn off, it's very common to feel homesick and lonely. 
This is true not just for overseas students, but for British students too. 
So remember, if it happens to you, you really aren't alone.
You may experience mood changes and strong reactions, feel lost and irritated. 
It's important to understand that this reaction is normal and these feelings will reduce as your new surroundings become more familiar.
If you need someone to talk to, ISAis always happy to listen and offer support and suggestions to make adapting to the UK easier.

UK healthcare

Some treatment provided by the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is free for everyone, including accident and emergency services (but not follow-up treatment, or admission as an in-patient to hospital).
Most other healthcare is only free if you pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application for your period of immigration permission. However, if you are in the UK for a short period of less than 6 months on a visitor visa you may need to take out private medical insurance. You may still choose to take out additional medical insurance to cover situations that would not be covered by the NHS, such as dental treatment, optician visits and repatriation in a medical emergency. Check out this great NHS webpage: UKCISA guide to health and healthcare.
The University Medical Centre is a facility for students on campus. We recommend registering with the centre as soon as you have a Plymouth address so that you have access to medical health support. It will enable you to:
  • Contact the centre at any time
  • Arrange medical appointments on campus
  • Video appointments during evenings and weekends
  • Digitally accessible services

Funding your studies

 As an overseas fee payer, you must generally fund yourself completely, or apply in your own country for whatever educational funding may be available. 
There is very little financial assistance available for overseas students in the UK, however, you can find information on the University of Plymouth scholarships and bursaries.

UK banking

 It's important that you speak to your bank in your home country before leaving. 
Ask if they have a special relationship with a UK bank that may help you to set up an account. 
It's also a good idea to ask them if you can use your cash card in cash machines in the UK to access money from your home country account.
It can be useful to bring a bank statement, or a University letter addressed to your home country address, to help you open an account in the UK.
It can take up to three weeks to open a UK bank account, so make sure you have access to money for this period. 
Some banks also require a local address to open the account, so depending on which bank you choose, you'll have to pay rent and a deposit to secure your accommodation first.
Opening a UK bank account is not essential but you will find it useful if you need to:
  • Pay for a UK mobile phone contract by direct debit
  • Pay household bills directly from your bank account
  • Receive payment for part-time work
  • Securely manage your money
  • Send or receive overseas payments
There are a number of factors you should consider when choosing and opening a bank account as an international student in the UK.
Guide to opening a bank account
(UK Council for International Student Affairs)
How to open a bank account
You may be able to apply for a bank account online. You should check your chosen bank’s website to see what options are available. You may be required to visit a branch of the bank you have chosen and take documents that show who you are, such as:
  • Your passport
  • Your BRP
  • Proof of your UK address (for example, a tenancy agreement)
  • Letter from the University of Plymouth confirming your status as a UK student
You can only request a University letter after you have completed online enrolment.

How to contact the International Student Advice team

Email: studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk
Call: +44 1752 587676
Talk to one of the ISA team via Zoom: chat with us live 09:30–10:30, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
We are also available for in-person sessions at the Student Hub in the Charles Seale-Hayne library on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 09:30–10:30 (no need to book).

student discussion