travel guide

Financial Support for non EU and Overseas Students in the United Kingdom

Overseas students or ‘international’ students are those who do not come from countries in the EU or EEA and Switzerland. For fee purposes you will be classified as an ‘overseas’ student and will have to pay the higher rate of fees and unfortunately there is no government help in meeting these. There are, however, sources of funding that you could try.
Thousands of scholarships and bursaries are offered by English institutions just for international students, while more than 21, 000 international students receive scholarship funding from the UK Government every year.

Consequently, every university awards a number of scholarships each year to overseas students (both at graduate and undergraduate levels) of high academic standard. Such scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis and selection takes into account academic ability and financial need. Normally, the annual value of the scholarship is one-third or one-sixth of the tuition fee although some universities offer more. However, scholarship-holders are expected to find the balance of the tuition fee and their living expenses from other sources.

Scholarships are also available for specific subject specialisms or those from particular countries. For example, The University of Kent currently offers a scholarship of £5,000 per year (for up to three years of study) for outstanding full-time students from China and Hong Kong. To find out if your intended institution offers scholarships you should contact them directly or look on their websites. Many universities also offer early bird discounts and payment through instalments and some have set up a loyalty discount scheme for international students whose parents or brothers or sisters have also studied at the same university. Discounts are usually around 10% of the first year’s tuition fee.

All universities also have a hardship fund where a limited amount of money is set aside each year for students who are experiencing financial difficulties. The provision of these funds is discretionary and is available to all full-time students of an institution (including overseas rate fee-payers). However such funds cannot be used for tuition fees. They are relatively small, providing perhaps up to £500 per year and are for students who are experiencing emergency financial situations.

Paid Work Regulations for Students

Students from EU/EEA countries are free to work whilst studying in the UK. Nationals from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia may have to register under the Worker Registration Scheme

International students (non-EU/EEA) can work up to 20 hours a week when studying (term-time) and full-time during vacations. It is important to note that if you work more than 20 hours during term-time (when you should be studying) you will be contravening the conditions under which you came into the country and your legal status may be in danger. However, if your course of study includes a work-placement then this is seen as part of your study, even if it is full-time for a period of time and paid, and working in this way will not contravene your visa conditions.

You should be aware that no student, regardless of their nationality, is entitled to government welfare benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance (income-based) and Income support, Housing Benefits or Council Tax Benefit.

A useful website giving information about working in the UK during your studies is www.ukcosa.org.uk/student/eea_work.php .
Pastoral Support

Universities in Britain enrol a large number of international students with around half of them coming from Europe. As a consequence all of them have an International Office which provides support and assistance to international students from application to arrival, and beyond.

The International Office team of each university is the first point of contact for international students who need guidance, but perhaps do not know who, or where, to go for help. The team works closely with the Admissions office, academic departments and support services of the institution to ensure that every students coming from abroad, whether Europe or elsewhere in the world, will have an outstanding educational experience. The primary focus of the International Office in a British university is to advise overseas students before they come to the university but they also provide a welfare liaison role as well as support the short-term overseas students and link with the Study Abroad offices of their home university.

Many universities have clubs and societies where students can meet up with others from their home country. The International Office will liaise closely with these, sometimes meeting current and former overseas students and their families in their home countries.

Many institutions arrange for you to be collected from the airport and offer guaranteed accommodation for your first year. They will provide a dedicated international office, international student societies, planned social activities, academic support, counsellors and advisers. The system works: England has one of the lowest ‘drop-out’ rates (the number of students who leave before the end of their course) in the world.