Top 7 study abroad tips for international students

Students walking by canal in Surrey

Each year, the UK welcomes thousands of international students from across the world. Some have chosen to immerse themselves in a brand-new culture. For others, it is a chance to learn more about a country they’ve visited before. But they all have the opportunity to benefit from the UK’s world-renowned education system.

For many students, the International Study Centre is the first step towards joining the University of Surrey. There is a lot to learn, so below we have provided seven useful study abroad tips for international students. And here’s a bonus one to get started: no matter who you meet when you get here, proper preparation will always be your best friend.

Choosing a programme

At the International Study Centre, you have the option to enter one of our pathway programmes. These specially curated courses will help you develop the academic skills needed for studying in the UK. There are options for undergraduate and postgraduate students, covering a broad range of interests, including the creative arts, tourism, hospitality, business, science and engineering.

Our English Language Preparation programme is designed to improve prospective University of Surrey students’ English language abilities. Our two-semester, International Foundation Year will get you ready for an undergraduate degree in a subject of your choice. And our Pre-Masters programme can help you build the skills you need for Masters-level studies spread between one and three semesters.

This is without a doubt the best way to help you secure a place at the University of Surrey, with 95% of students who completed their programme in 2023 offered a place.

Manage your budget

Managing finances can be particularly difficult for international students. Necessities and nice-to-haves may be more expensive than at home, and that’s even before the additional costs that domestic students do not incur.

According to UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI), the minimum cost of living for students outside of London is £1,023 a month. However, as an international student, you will also need the money to cover student insurance, the UK healthcare surcharge and transport costs, such as airport transfers.

To be as transparent as possible, we have listed all of the current tuition fees for our preparation programmes and provided information on how to pay. However, please note that these may change from year to year.

Student accommodation

Your student accommodation is where you will be able to relax outside of lessons, meet new people and settle into your life in the UK. The University of Surrey offers a range of accommodation options for every budget and lifestyle – all of which include 24-hour security, furnished rooms, broadband internet, personal belongings insurance and an on-site launderette. Numbers are limited, so we recommend getting in contact to organise your accommodation as early as possible.

You also have the option to choose your own private accommodation – which is required to be within a one-hour journey of the International Study Centre. Each programme is designed to maximise your learning, and staying as close to the Centre as possible will help you to get the most out of it.

Immerse yourself in the culture

One of the main benefits of studying abroad is that it is the perfect chance to dive into your host country’s culture and open your mind to new experiences. Embrace British way of life – quaint villages and thousand-year-old churches, thriving metropolitan centres and technological wonders. The UK has a bit of everything, and studying here is your chance to see it all first-hand.

From admiring the beautiful British countryside and pottering round Guildford to visiting London, one of the world’s most vibrant cities, just a short train-ride away, there are lots of ways for University of Surrey students to spend their time outside of studying.  This perfect mix of bustle and tranquillity is just one of the reasons in 2023 the University of Surrey was voted the fourth best UK university in terms of student satisfaction.

Learn the local language

Learning the local language is another excellent way to immerse yourself in your host country’s culture as an international student. And while the UK is defined by its mix of cultures, with several official languages, including Welsh and Gaelic, you may struggle without a decent level of English.

All our road signs and adverts, most of our media and even things like menus are almost exclusively written in English. Most importantly, all of your studies will be conducted in English, and it can be difficult to be gain the necessary visa if you do not have sufficient English language skills.

As mentioned earlier, our pathway programmes can help bring your English language skills up to the level needed to study in the UK. We have programmes for most levels that will allow you fully excel when studying at the University of Surrey.

Student visa information

International students require a Student Visa – formerly known as a Tier 4 visa – to study in the UK. To successfully apply for a visa, you need:

  • To have been offered a place on a course and to have received a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies).
  • To be able to speak, read, write and understand English.
  • To have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course.

Applicants living outside the UK may receive their CAS up to 6 months before their course begins, while it may be 3 months for those living within the UK. Once you have received your CAS, you can start applying for your visa. The Admissions team or your Student Enrolment Advisor will check your documents before you apply and help guide you through the process.

For more detailed application instructions and what a Student Visa permits, visit our Visa Information page.

Important items

As an international student, you must ensure that you bring all the relevant documentation you need with you – some of which is legally required. This can include your academic records and travel documents, such as your visa and a passport with at least six months validity. The Admissions team or your Student Enrolment Advisor will be able to provide you with a comprehensive list of the documents you’ll need.

While it is impossible to travel with all your home comforts when you study abroad, there are a few items that are essential for international students studying in the UK. Very important among these are electrical adaptors. The UK has unique plug sockets – so it is essential you make sure you have enough electrical adaptors for any items you bring with you. Even if you come from a nearby country, they will not work without an adaptor. You should also bring appropriate clothing for the famous British weather. Winters can be very cold while summers are increasingly hot, and it is best to be prepared for all possibilities.

Study Abroad at University of Surrey

There are lots of reasons why people choose the UK for studying. The quality of education, our cultural diversity and easy travel within Europe are at the top of many people’s lists, all of which the University of Surrey provides access to.

We also aren’t shy about our achievements – which is why we are proud to tell you that we place in the top 25 in all the leading UK University rankings and the top 250 worldwide. As a research-led institution, we have some of the country’s best science, technology, engineering and mathematics facilities.

Looking beyond your studies, we recognise the responsibility we have to help set our students up for their futures. Our university work placement service is consistently voted as one of the best in the UK. Students benefit in and out of the classroom from industry experts and chances to expand their skillsets. This is bolstered by our Employability and Careers Centre, which provides invaluable advice to help you start your dream career.

Visit our website to learn more about University of Surrey International Student Centre, including information on the wide range of programme we offer, entry requirements and fees. We’re here to help you make the most out of your time studying in the UK.


Is the UK good for studying abroad?

The UK is famed for its leading academic institutions that offer a world-class education across a wide range of courses. As a leader in many fields, students have access to some of the best research opportunities, which in turn create great career prospects. This is paired with vibrant student lives, cultural diversity and easy travel within Europe – making the UK one of the best places in the world to study.

Is it difficult to study in the UK?

The level of difficult in studying in the UK is dependent upon individual circumstances, including the chosen course. However, there are many resources available for those who want to take their next step in their education in the UK.