Studying overseas is quite the adventure, but the price tag can be terrifying. Don’t write it off before reading these money tips for budding international students.
6. HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN
Applying to study in the UK involves proving you have the funds to support yourself throughout your course. As a result, you’re exempt from most official student funding. However, if the worst happens, talk to the university’s welfare or international team asap: they’ll be able to suggest a practical plan of action.
5. ALWAYS ASK FOR A DISCOUNT
Once you’ve enrolled on a course you’ll be given a student card (it might be a library card or student ID). You can use this to unlock student discounts online, as well as in shops, restaurants, bars, and other places. Don’t just use it for advertised discounts: get in the habit of asking if you can have money off everywhere.
While the student card is free, you can choose to pay for a Totum card for a wider variety of discounts.
4. GRAB CAMPUS FREEBIES
The best place to score freebies is Freshers’ Fair. This takes place during the first week of term (‘Freshers’ Week’ – think welcome events done Spring Break style!). The fair itself is a marketplace of student societies and local businesses all vying for your love in return for coupons, freebies, tasters and samples.
The strategy to making the most of the fair is: go early, take a bag, and accept everything! Done right, it’s possible to stock up with enough stationery, discounts or invites to see you through an entire term, plus you may be able to sell what you don’t need.
3. DON’T BE SCARED TO FLAT-SHARE
Students in the UK spend an average of £406/month on housing, though prices can vary massively. Private halls of residence offer a newer or nicer standard of living … and charge a hefty premium for it. University accommodation is typically humbler, and therefore more reasonably priced, but apply early or risk missing out. The majority of students rent from private landlords (i.e., house or flat shares).
If money is a concern, sharing is the answer, as you’ll have people to split costs with. If you’re coming to the country on your own, slotting into a flatshare can feel less isolating, too. Whichever option appeals, if you need help getting started don’t be shy about asking the uni’s housing team for support.
2. GET A UK BANK ACCOUNT
While you can survive abroad with your home bank, a UK account makes it easier to buy things, settle bills and receive wages or funding. As you won’t have to deal with so many currency conversions (and the associated fees), it’s cheaper, too.
Overseas students aren’t eligible for UK ‘student banking’ – which means missing out on the legendary 0% student overdraft. Beyond that, however, there’s a competitive choice for international student bank accounts, many of which come with freebies and other incentives; some can even be opened before you arrive in the country.
1. UNCOVER ‘HIDDEN’ SCHOLARSHIPS
The best-known international scholarships are government funded – for instance, Chevening, Commonwealth and Saltire awards. With financial support worth thousands, these are prime funds to apply for – for postgraduates, anyway.
What you may not know is that some UK universities offer funding to undergrads as well (the University of Birmingham even has a dedicated Canada Undergraduate Scholarship).
Tracking down these awards takes patience and perseverance: use the UCAS website to find courses you like the look of, then follow the links to search the universities’ fees and funding info.
While some money tips and strategies are specific to the UK (or wherever you end up studying), don’t forget that many top ways of managing money are universal. Plan how you’ll spend your income, stick to your budget, and be ambitious about always getting a good deal.