Advice about arriving, living, and working in the UK
Living, working, and studying in the UK
- Cost of living
- Managing your money
- Health and NHS services
- Keeping Safe
- Working during your studies
- How to apply for a National Insurance Number
- Police Registration
- Study Skills
- International Student House Membership
- Travelling in Europe
- Driving in the UK
- Contact us
Cost of living: what to expect
It is estimated that a single student living in London will need approximately £1,265 a month to meet basic living expenses such as accommodation costs, food, books and equipment and other necessities. This is in line with Home Office recommended figures for living inside London. These figures are given as a guide only and the amount you actually spend will depend a lot upon your personal lifestyle. The following breakdown of costs can give you some idea of how this figure is reached. Don't forget that your costs will be much higher if you will be bringing your family to the UK as your dependants.
An easy way to work out your budget is to use this interactive International Student Calculator.
It is very important that you have insurance to cover your personal property. If your laptop and other belongings are damaged or stolen it will cost you a lot of money to replace them. Endsleigh is the recommended insurance company for students. Insurance cover for up to £1,000 of laptop and other electrical items costs about £80 per year.
Student NUS discount
After you have enrolled at London Met, apply for an NUS (National Union of Students) Extra card which costs £12 but entitles you to discounts in hundreds of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. For example you can get 10% discount on your food shopping at the Co-operative supermarket so it won't take long to cover the £12 cost of the card.
On average you will need to budget for spending an average of £50 to £70 on food per week. This is based on eating breakfast, lunch and a hot evening meal. London is full of great places to eat. There are a great many outlets for buying food on and around all of our campuses where a hot meal can range in price from £3.50-£7.00.
Heating and lighting
If you choose to live in private rented accommodation, the cost of heating will not be included in your rent. If you are not used to cold or damp weather, you may need to use the heating for up to seven months of the year.
Cheaper rented accommodation does not usually have central heating, and gas or electric fires provided can be expensive to run. Allow a minimum of £600 for the year.
Books and equipment
London Metropolitan University has well-stocked libraries where you should be able to find all the books required for your course. You can find out about our libraries on our Services page.
There may also be times where you will have to purchase your own books. The cost of books varies for different courses. You are strongly advised to check with your department to find out any extra costs anticipated. You will have to pay for your own stationery, computer disks/memory sticks and photocopying.
All students are entitled to 30% discount on travel in London but only if you have a Student Oyster card. You can apply for your Student Oyster card on the Transport for London (TFL) website.
A Young Person's Railcard will entitle you to one third off normal nationwide train fares so that you can visit other parts of the UK. You can apply for the railcard on the 16-25 Railcard website.
Cycling is a fast and cheap way of travelling but remember to stay safe and always wear a helmet. Cycling safety information can be found on the UK Government website and also on the Transport for London website.
Council tax is the system of local taxation charged to all residents in the UK by the local government councils to part-fund local public services such as waste disposal, policing, fire service, schools etc. Council tax charges are based on the value of your property and consider the number and type of occupants.
Do I have to pay the council tax?
Full-time students usually don't have to pay council tax. If you live alone or in a household where everyone is either a student or a Tier 4 dependant of yours, then you will not need to pay any council tax as the property will be exempt and there will be no bill for the dwelling. You should request a Council Tax Exemption Letter from your Student Hub and then give it to your local Council office.
Further information on UK cost of living
Food: Tesco Pricecheck
UK weather: BBC UK Weather
UK culture and living: British Council
Managing your money
You cannot open a bank account until you are in the UK and have registered on a programme of full-time study. It can take up to 2 weeks to open a bank account. UK law requires banks to make detailed checks on customers to establish proof of identity (signed passport), proof of address in home country and proof of new address in the UK.
You should therefore make sure that you bring enough money to cover your expenses for the first few weeks in the UK. You might consider bringing travellers cheques or credit card with you. Please do not carry large amounts of cash with you or keep large amounts of cash in your room.
Once you arrive at London Metropolitan University you will need to decide which bank you want to open an account with and there is some useful information to help you decide here on the "Which?" website. In order to open an account you will need to complete an application form from your preferred bank.
In addition you will need to provide the following evidence to them;
- Proof of your identity (usually a passport).
- Proof of your address in the UK.
- Confirmation that you are a full-time registered student at the University This may be confirmed by getting a bank letter from your Student Hub at London Met after you have enrolled. You may also wish to take your tenancy agreement as evidence of your current address if you are in private rented accommodation.
Prepare your budget in advance with the International Student Calculator
Further information and resources
Health and NHS services
Immigration Health Surcharge
Please note that a new Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £150 per year was introduced in April 2015 for students studying a course lasting six months or longer. This entitles you to use the National Health Service (NHS) at no extra cost during your stay in the UK.
The IHS will be refunded where an application for leave to enter or remain is refused.
Further details of the NHS Surcharge can be found on the Home Office website here.
Registering with a doctor
You should register with a local general practitioner (GP) practice as soon as possible and preferably before you actually need to see a doctor about an illness. You can can find a list of your local GPs here on the NHS website. Check the range of services offered by each of the GP practices so that you can make an informed choice about which practice to register with. You may want to consider whether there are both male and female doctors and whether there are additional services and clinics offered.
If you are a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country and you are studying on a course lasting less than six months then you are strongly advised to bring a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you otherwise you may be charged for your healthcare.
If medicines are prescribed by a doctor a prescription charge is made per item which is currently £8.20.
If you are not eligible for free health care you are strongly advised to take out private medical insurance from a reputable company to cover yourself and any dependants before you leave home.
If you will be registering with a doctor please ensure that you bring the following information for yourself and your family, if they are coming with you.
- details of any past illnesses requiring medical treatment
- a full record of past immunizations
- if you are currently taking medicines please make sure you bring adequate medication to cover the first few weeks at University
If you are eligible for NHS treatment you will be eligible for treatment by a dentist accepting NHS patients (although this is not free treatment it is cheaper than private treatment). You can find an NHS dentist on the NHS website.
Eye tests and opticians
Eye tests are available at opticians, which can be found in the high street. You will have to pay a charge of around £25 for an eye test. You will need to pay for lenses and frames which can cost from £35 to over £350.
Safety and security issues are very important, not just as you first arrive in the UK but also throughout your stay. By international standards the UK is a safe country; in a recent survey by the British Council only a very small proportion of students had ever experienced a crime and the overwhelming majority felt that the UK is a very safe place to be.
However, it is important to be aware of how you can keep yourself and your possessions safe and the following online guide produced by the British Council is an excellent resource:
Working in the UK during your studies
Am I allowed to work?
For immigration purposes, international students from outside the EU/EEA must show that they can pay their fees and living expenses without working and without claiming public funds (benefits).
However if you have a Tier 4 (General) Student visa and you are studying at or above degree level, you are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during holidays. If you have a short-term study visa you are not allowed to work.
Postgraduate students should also be aware that they may not be allowed to work unlimited hours during normal University holidays as their courses do not necessarily follow the usual University calendar.
If you are uncertain whether you are allowed to work, or would just like to check the rules, you can email email@example.com
How do I find a part time job?
London Metropolitan University has a Careers and Employment Service which can help you find a part time job and enhance your employability. They can also assist you with any issues once you find a job. For more information visit London Met Careers Service.
Do I have to pay income tax?
It depends on how much money you earn. If you earn over the annual Personal Income Tax Allowance (currently £10,600) you will need to pay tax on your earnings but students working part-time are unlikely to earn enough to pay tax. You can also claim tax back if you have paid it and haven’t earned over your personal allowance. Full details can be found here on the Government HMRC website and on the gov.uk website.
Further information on working during your studies can be found on the UKCISA website.
How to apply for a National Insurance Number
All employees pay National Insurance contributions and if you do want to work then you must apply for a National Insurance Number. The National Insurance Number (NINO) is a number unique to you to which will help your employer to pay your National Insurance contributions. No one else can use this number.
Call Job Centre Plus on 0845 600 0643 to make an application for your NINO. You can find further information on how to apply for your National Insurance number here on the Gov.UK website.
You do not need a National Insurance number to start work but you will need to get one once you have started a job. Your employer will give you a temporary number while you wait for your permanent number.
Students from some non-EEA countries who are studying for more than six months are required to register with the police within seven days of arrival in the UK.
If your visa reads "Must register with the police within 7 days" or similar message, you will need to make sure that you do this as soon as possible after you arrive in the UK. If your visa does not mention police registration, you do not have to register.
The new short term 30 day entry clearance visa will still state whether you need to register with the police. If you are issued with this new 30 day visa, you will also receive a letter confirming that your visa application for the UK has been successful and provide the start/expiry date of your visa.
If the above applies to you, you can register with the police by attending the OVRO either:
(A) Before collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from the designated post office: Attend the OVRO with all documents mentioned under "Required Documentation" here and the original of the accompanying letter issued abroad. Once you have collected your BRP from the post office, you do not need to attend the OVRO to report this card. All future (In Country) BRP’s must be reported within seven days as usual.
(B) After collecting your BRP from the post office:
Attend the OVRO with all documents mentioned under the "Required Documentation" section found here. You must also bring your BRP.
In order to register with the police, please read the following information and take the requested documents to the Overseas Visitors Records Office at 323 Borough High Street London SE1 1JL.
Documents required for registration:
- Passport (with visa)
- Completed proforma (Optical Character Recognition, OCR)*
- One colour photo (45mm x 35mm) pasted to the proforma
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if applicable
- £34 registration fee
- Photo requirements: Only one photo will be required which must be pasted, not stapled, within the guidelines on the form. The photo must be in colour and of true likeness. The size must be no more or no less than 45 millimetres (mm) high x 35 millimetres (mm) wide. Any photo that does not meet this requirement will result in the application being refused. Although there are no specific background colour requirements, the background must be plain.
- Errors and amendments: any forms with an error and/or amendments will not be accepted.
*The OVRO will not accept handwritten or previous versions of the proforma. The proforma will be located under the "Related documents" section on the OVRO web page along with guidance notes on how to complete the form. Please note: make sure this is printed, preferrably from your home or the University, before you go to the OVRO as some businesses may charge you up to £5 to print it out for you.
Further police registration information can be found on the Metropolitan Police website.
Your address details
It is important to keep your address and contact details up to date and to inform the University immediately if any of these details change. You can do this using the applicant portal or by contacting the London Met Visa Compliance team (firstname.lastname@example.org). The UKVI may need to contact you and it is your responsibility to ensure the UKVI have your correct contact details at all times.
Study Skills resources
Check London Met's Student Study Hub for further information.
See Future Learn for free online courses provided by UK and International universities.
All London Met students are automatically members of International Students House (ISH)which is a fantastic facility in a beautiful central location next to Regents Park.
Apart from providing accommodation for International Students , ISH has a bar and bistro and organises social activities every day so it's a great place to meet people from all around the world.
There are all sorts of events and trips around the UK organised - check out what is happening on the ISH Events website.
Travelling in Europe: Advice and information
The Schengen Visa
If you would like to travel to one of the 26 European countries which make up the 'Schengen Space' then you may need to apply for a Schengen Visa. You can check here on the European Commission website Do I Need A Visa?
The common 'Schengen' visa is a visa for short stays of up to 3 months for the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic,Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
In order to apply for the visa you should check the embassy website of the Schengen member country you wish to visit for an application form and full details of the Schengen visa requirements. If you are planning on travelling to more than one Schengen country then you should apply to the embassy of the country which will be your main destination.
What documents will I need?
This varies between countries but generally you will require the following:
- Completed application form, signed by the applicant,
- Recent passport photograph(s),
- Original passport or official travel document of each traveller,
- Proof of purpose of the visit,this can be an invitation letter from friends/family or conference organisers or proof of accommodation/tour booking,
- Evidence of sufficient funds to complete your trip
- Evidence of student status - you will need a recent letter from the University confirming that you are a full-time student,
- Travel insurance for the entire trip - this must include cover for medical expenses,
- Check that your current student visa will allow you to return to the UK - most member states request that you have a minimum length of leave remaining on your student visa after you return to the UK but this varies between countries so you will need to check the requirements on the relevant website,
- The Schengen Visa fee - this varies depending on which of the Schengen countries is issuing the visa,
- All of the documents that you provide must be originals; photocopies will not be accepted,
We advise you to make copies of your passport and all the documents that you submit to the Embassy and ensure that you carry photocopies of all the documents that you submitted in support of your application.
If you are travelling to countries outside of the Schengen space, you should contact that country’s embassy in the UK for information about immigration procedures there.
Driving in the UK
Driving licences issued outside the UK, and international driving permits, are valid in the UK for twelve months. After twelve months it is necessary to obtain a UK licence by arranging to take a driving test. If this is not done, you run the risk of being prosecuted for driving without a valid licence and this will invalidate your insurance. Nationals of the European Union who take up residence in another member state can continue to drive, using their own national licence, for as long as it remains valid, even after twelve months has elapsed.
Licences from the following countries can be exchanged for a full UK licence:
- Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe.
Application forms for UK driving licences and explanatory leaflet can be obtained from all main post offices. Application forms for a driving test can be obtained from the Driving Standards Agency.
See also the UKCISA guide: Driving in the UK - A Guide for International Students
The International student advisers are available for advice on a range of issues including visas and immigration.
The service is regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)
International student advisers
telephone: +44 (0)20 7133 4186
appointments: +44 (0)20 7133 4186
Immigration information from London Met
Find some useful advice here about planning your arrival to the UK, and also what to expect when you do arrive in London.
Read this essential information so that you can make a successful application for your Tier 4 student Visa.