Advice for International Students:
Advice for UK students:
Studying and living in the UK
Housing, health, family and your rights
- How do I find somewhere to live in the UK?
- Can my children go to school in the UK?
- Can I get free health care while I study in the UK?
- Do I need insurance?
- Can I use my driving licence from home to drive in the UK?
- Can I vote in UK elections? Can I vote in elections in my home country while I am studying in the UK?
How do I find somewhere to live in the UK?
You will need to arrange some form of accommodation before you arrive in the UK, even if it is only temporary. See our Information sheets:
Can my children go to school in the UK?
If your children are aged between 5 and 16, they can attend government primary and secondary schools in the UK, as long as they are here as your dependants. You will not have to pay for this. However, schools may sometimes refuse places to children if they consider their stay in the UK will be too short, or if the schools have no free places.
Choosing a state-funded school a guide from the British Council aimed at parents planning to take their family to the UK
Choosing a School a general guide from the UK government aimed at all UK residents
A guide to schooling in England for people new to the UK
Can I get free health care while I study in the UK?
If you are on a course lasting six months or more you can get treatment from the National Health Service (NHS) from the beginning of your stay. You will not have to pay for hospital treatment, but you may have to pay for some dental treatment and a standard charge for medicines prescribed by a doctor, depending on your income. This also applies to your spouse or civil partner and children. Children under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education, do not normally have to pay for any treatment.
Do I need insurance?
Endsleigh, in association with UKCISA, has produced an insurance policy specifically designed for International Students. You should consider purchasing both Possessions Insurance, to protect belongings, and medical insurance to protect yourself. Both can be provided by Endsleigh.
If you are not entitled to treatment under the National Health Service, you should make sure you have adequate medical insurance to cover medical costs, if you fall ill, and also to cover the additional possible costs resulting from illness. These can be substantial, and include:
- Loss of fees if you are unable to complete your course
- Additional treatment and medical expenses not covered by the National Health Service
- Costs of returning home if a relative is taken ill
- Costs of a relative visiting you in the UK if you fall ill
- Returning to your home country for treatment
Even if you are entitled to free National Health Service treatment whilst in the UK, you should consider taking out insurance which covers the above additional costs.
Can I use my driving licence from home to drive in the UK?
This will depend on where your licence was issued. You might be able to drive using your current licence for up to 12 months and then take a driving test. Alternatively, you might be able to exchange your licence for a British licence or apply for a provisional licence and then take the test. Please note also that legal requirements regarding insurance and the good state of repair of the car will also apply. For more information see our Information Sheet:
Can I vote in UK elections? Can I vote in elections in my home country while I am studying in the UK?
The next scheduled UK parliamentary general election is on 7 May 2015. Before this, there will be local elections on 2 May 2013.
If you will be studying in the UK when there is an election, you may be eligible to register to vote. To register, you must be at least 16 years old, and you must be either
- a British citizen; or
- an Irish citizen; or
- a Commonwealth national who has valid immigration permission for the UK or who does not need it; or
- a British Overseas Territories citizen or Crown Dependency citizen
- a European Union national who is resident in the UK
An EU national can vote in European and local elections in the UK, but not in UK Parliamentary general elections or referendums. Other eligible voters can vote in all elections.
Registering to vote, and voting, are not compulsory in the UK.
Commonwealth nationals who are eligible to register to vote in UK elections may wish to research first whether voting in the UK would have any effect on their rights in their home country.
You can register online to vote at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
If an election is called in your home country while you are studying in the UK, and you wish to vote, contact your country's Embassy or High Commission in the UK for advice. An overseas vote may require you to register and vote earlier than normal, so we advise you get advice as soon as possible after the election has been called.
Your college or university may hold elections for Student Union sabbatical officers, or other student representatives, in which all registered students can vote. Such student elections have no connection with local government elections, and there is no requirement to register to vote. As an international student, you can stand for election, and if necessary, you can extend your stay in the UK under Tier 4 in order to work full-time as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.