Moving to another country can be overwhelming, studying abroad can be even more so! Alliance MBS master’s Class of 2019 graduate, Maria Valerio Gonzalez, offers up five practical tips for international students coming to Manchester to study a master’s degree.
1. Tier 4 Visa
I am from Costa Rica so I needed to get a student visa to study in the UK (Tier 4 visa). You’ll need to submit various pieces of evidence to be able to get it, here is the complete guide from the Home Office. I would advise you to do everything in advance in case you come across any setbacks; pay special attention to the financial requirements.
2. Transcripts and British Residence Permit (BRP) card
Make sure you have all the documents that you need to present at the University upon arrival, including the authenticated transcripts. In my case, I also had to authenticate the translations.
Once you arrive, you have to collect your BRP card from Student Services. They will send you an email to let you know when you can collect it; without the email, they will not give you the permit. As a side note here, I would advise you to not carry it with you everywhere, keep it in a secure place and only take it when necessary.
Another important step is to get your accommodation sorted. I thought renting an apartment was as easy as in my home country, it turns out it is not.
Please try to have your accommodation sorted before you come here. I arrived in Manchester a few days before the course started, and I did not have an apartment yet. The problem here was that without an apartment you do not have an address, therefore you cannot open a bank account, which is a major problem if you need to pay your fees… or do anything whatsoever.
I went to every single estate agent in Manchester and they all told me it would take me a minimum of two weeks to finish all the paperwork, and this was two weeks after I had seen the apartment. Thankfully, I was able to find a student accommodation company that had 1 apartment left available and the paperwork was super simple and fast. As it was specifically for students, the process was different from other private accommodation.
If I had to do it again I would just get an apartment with the University’s Accommodation Office as I think it is cheaper and simpler. Remember that an offer of residence in the University’s accommodation is guaranteed to all overseas (non-EU) postgraduate students for the duration of their studies.
4. Bank account
Once you have an address, you will be able to set up a bank account. During the weeks before the course starts, you will be able to find several banks on campus. First, the University has to give you a letter stating that you are a student here and with that letter, you can open up an account. You can get this letter in the same place on the same day. Bear in mind that people usually leave things until the last minute and the lines are huge. It would be a smart move to be there early and get it done as soon as possible.
5. Cell phone
Once you have your bank account you can also get a SIM card for the UK. There are a lot of options so try to do some research first about the different plans and prices. By doing this I was able to find a really good deal that was only available online. Also, this plan allowed me to use my phone anywhere in Europe for free and in my home country for a small charge.