Applying for a study abroad or exchange experience overseas can be overwhelming but, speaking from experience I can assure you it’s worth the paperwork. This is the first in a series of four blogs about the application process and information that you need to consider when going through your application. My next blog will cover travel information, my third will be about the universities themselves and what to expect; and finally I will write about the culture of the UK and places to visit.
Studying in Britain represents a great opportunity for all students looking for a new challenge, or simply a change of environment.
Applying to study in Britain however can be a long and tedious process, and in this blog I will lay out important information for applying; I will also lay out my advice for students and things to be aware of. If you’re a Griffith University student make sure you visit the Griffith Global Mobility Outbound website for specific study abroad and exchange information.
Australian citizens are in a good position to apply for British universities, as your visa application will be accepted if you have an offer from a British university, barring exceptional circumstances. There are five main aspects you need to consider… these are your main application to your chosen university, your visa application, healthcare, accommodation and flights.
Step 1 – apply to your chosen university
Firstly you need to get your application for your chosen university in as soon as possible (you can’t apply for a visa until your place at a British institution is confirmed). My best advice is to write a good personal statement and get a good reference from someone you trust; getting these two parts right will give you an extremely good chance of being accepted. If you’re planning a student exchange, check the Griffith Global Mobility website to find out which British universities are exchange partners with Griffith University.
Step 2 – visa application
You will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK. The UK government website, GOV.UK provides all the information you will need to understand when applying for your Tier 4 visa. Some of the things you will need to consider include:
- You can only apply for your visa from 3 months before the start of your course; it’s advisable to prepare other things during the time you can’t apply for your visa, for example finding the cheapest possible flights early.
- You must provide proof of your passport and funds to support yourself whilst in Britain which isn’t a set amount so even if you intend to spend much less it’s advisable to ensure your bank balance is the highest it can be.
- Australian citizens don’t need any injections etc, although be aware if you’ve been to a country which requires vaccinations.
Step 3 – health care
Healthcare is relatively simple. Firstly you may need to pay a healthcare surcharge of £200, however whilst you’re residing in Britain general and emergency healthcare will be free via the NHS as long as you make sure to register with a GP. Go to your university’s health centre and they will help you register (registering is free). Please be sure to take into account your individual circumstance as specialised areas of healthcare may cost you. The University of Leicester has a good guide to the NHS for international students.
Step 4 – accommodation
Accommodation should be sorted as soon as possible and it’s the least guaranteed so my advice is to get accommodation sorted as a priority. Universities in Britain generally speaking are within close distance to their accommodation and depending on your preference you can decide to rent with the university or privately. University accommodation costs an average of £90-£120 per week, but this varies ever so slightly depending on the standard and location. Private accommodation can potentially be more rewarding based on personal experience but be wary of bad landlords as I know of plenty of people including myself who have had to deal with many problems as a result of bad landlords. Try to look for reputable landlords. Some aspects to consider are the location of the accommodation, is it near to the university and shops? Consider the type of student you may be sharing accommodation with. University accommodation in Britain is usually quite loud and if you’re not a fan of that you may have to take a risk elsewhere.
In my next blog I shall be writing about things you need to know when travelling to the UK. Studying abroad can be a wonderful experience, I studied at Griffith University for six months and they were undeniably the best moments of my life so far – however I had to apply in the first place. The application process can be frustrating but persistence pays off! Be sure to keep an eagle-eye on proceedings and keep a positive mindset and you’ll be very prepared when you eventually arrive in Britain.