International students

The University welcomes some of the brightest minds from across the globe to study at Oxford every year. Did you know international students make up over a third of all those studying at the University, with 138 nationalities currently represented?

This page provides specific advice about starting at Oxford for European and International students, click on the tabs above to read about each area and also see the general pre-arrival information for all students. You may also find the Orientation guide on the right-hand side menu helpful in learning more about Oxford terminology and academic and social life in Oxford. 

For information about student visas see the separate student visas website.

Arriving in Oxford and Orientation events

Finding your way to Oxford from the airports and Eurostar

Contact your College before you travel to find out the following, so you can plan your journey: 

  • exact dates when you can move into your accommodation 
  • to discuss arrival times and what happens if your journey is delayed and you arrive late 
  • where you will need to collect your keys and the distance to your accommodation 

See the sections below for the most popular routes from various UK airports or the Eurostar terminal to Oxford and how to reach your college by taxi. 

From Heathrow Airport to Oxford

The airline bus departs approximately every twenty minutes from Heathrow Airport (during the day) with the last bus leaving Heathrow at midnight and the first bus in the morning leaving at 2am. The bus has charging points for your phone or laptop (remember to put your UK plug adapter in your hand luggage), toilets, and free WiFi internet access. You can pay in cash (£, €, US $) on the bus, or by credit or debit card in the bus station, though cheaper fares are possible when booking your tickets 14 days or more prior to your arrival.  

  • Arriving at Terminal 2 or 3: you should follow the signs in the arrival hall to the Central Bus Station, then take the lift up to the bus station and you will arrive in the ticket hall.
  • Arriving at Terminal 4: follow the signs in the arrival hall to ‘the trains’ and take the free Heathrow Express train service to ‘Heathrow Central’; a three-minute train journey. Follow the signs to the Central Bus Station, take the lift up to the bus station and you will arrive in the ticket hall.
  • Arriving at Terminal 5: the bus service to Oxford also departs from Terminal 5 next to the arrival area (stop 10), so you do not need to go to the Central Bus Station.

You can check which terminal your flight lands in and consult the Heathrow Airport journey planner for services operating when you land. 

Average travel time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Average price: from £27 (or £25 online) 

From Gatwick Airport to Oxford

A similar bus service operates from Gatwick to Oxford (tickets can be booked on The Airline: Oxford Bus). The bus departs approximately every hour from the North and South Terminal Bus Stations. Students planning for train connections will need to take the free airport shuttle to the South Terminal for train connections.

Average travel time:  around 3 hours 
Average price: from £32 (or £30 online) 

From Stansted Airport to Oxford

A number of airlines arrive at Stansted from European destinations, but it is a longer journey to reach Oxford from Stansted than it is from Heathrow or Gatwick. There are 7 direct buses a day that run from Stanstead to Oxford, at other times of the day you may need to change buses. The bus station is a 2-minute walk from the airport terminal, located opposite the main terminal entrance. You will need to take the National Express bus. Journeys requiring a change will involve a stop in central London (arriving at the Victoria Coach Station and changing to the Oxford Tube bus).

Average travel time: with change 4 hours and 45 minutes; direct service from 3 hours and 50 minutes
Average price: with change from £28; direct service from: £32

If travelling by train, you can also take the Stansted Express train to London Liverpool Street station and then change on the Underground to reach London Paddington and then take the train to Oxford. Prices and journey times can vary and you should check travel times before you book your flight to ensure that connecting travel to Oxford is available at the time you land in the UK.

From Luton Airport to Oxford

A number of airlines arrive at Luton from European destinations, but it is a longer journey to reach Oxford from Luton than it is from Heathrow or Gatwick. All scheduled coach services pick up and drop off from right outside the terminal building. You will need to take the National Express bus, which offers both direct journeys and journeys with one change. Journeys requiring a change will either involve a stop in Milton Keynes (arriving at the Milton Keynes Coachway, M1 Junction 14 and changing to the Stagecoach x5) or a change at Heathrow Airport to The Airline: Oxford Bus.

Average travel time: with change 3 hours and 30 minutes; direct from 1 hour and 50 minutes
Average price: with change from £40; direct from: £17

From Eurostar terminus to Oxford

From the Eurostar terminus at London St Pancras station you can either: 

  • Take the Underground to London Paddington station (20 minutes with Circle or Hammersmith & City line) and then the train to Oxford (1 hour).
  • Or, Take the Underground from London St Pancras station to Victoria (14 minutes with Victoria line) and then the Oxford Tube bus (1 hour 30 minutes).

Average travel time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Average price: from £30

Arriving in Oxford

Arrange in advance where you need to go to collect your keys for your accommodation and how to get to your room, what date and time you can arrive, what happens if you arrive late and check the map for where you need to get off in Oxford if arriving by bus.

If you are arriving late in the evening you should let your College know in advance, but if you’ve been delayed unexpectedly, there is usually a night porter who you can contact by ringing the bell at the College entrance.  The bus will stop at St Clements, the High Street (outside Examination Schools), St Aldates, with the last stop at Gloucester Green Bus Station in the city centre. If you live in a central college, it is often closer to depart the bus at Queens Lane on High Street. If you need a taxi, it will be better to get off at the last stop which is Gloucester Green Bus Station where there are plenty of taxis behind the bus station and near the cinema. 

Getting a taxi to your College

At Gloucester Green Bus Station you will find taxis waiting in the large square behind the bus station and near the cinema. These can take you to your accommodation. The average fare will be about £8 for Oxford Colleges in the city centre or £10 to £20 if your College is further away from the city centre. If you have a lot of luggage the last stop (Gloucester Green) might be more convenient for you, and it’s easier to get a taxi there. If you are arriving by train, there are taxis outside the train station which can take you to your college, prices will vary from £8 to £20 depending on where your College is located.

Further useful websites

Oxford airline bus
Oxford Tube (bus service from central London
National Express bus (for Stansted airport or other locations)
National Rail timetables 
London Underground

Orientation events

Orientation events for international students take place at the same time as for home students at the Student Union Freshers’ fair . You will also receive induction information from your college and department about academic and social life at Oxford.

Alumni groups around the globe will sometimes organise freshers’ events, typically in mid to late September, for new students embarking on their educational journey at the University. The Graduate Admissions team also offer some pre-departure events for offer holders. 

Adjusting to life in the UK

Coming to study in a different country is a major change to your life. Remember that this is a huge transition and it may take time to adjust to life in a different culture. Take opportunities to familiarise yourself with the culture here (reading papers, watching TV, talking to others). Spending time with someone from your same culture can also help you feel less isolated. You can meet people from your own country/region by signing up to one of the 200 plus student societies currently on offer at the University.

Keeping in contact with your friends and family back home may help you feel more settled, but if you find that you feelings of depression, isolation or anxiety persist, advice and help is available from your college, your department, central University services, fellow students and the Student Union. UKCISA provide further detailed information on culture shock and the transition phases you may go through.

If you would like help to improve your skills in academic English, or you are experiencing difficulties adapting to the requirements of Western academic culture, there are a number of resources which can help, including the Pre-sessional course in English for academic purposes offered by the Language Centre and other courses they have available throughout the year.

Accommodation options

Undergraduate students are guaranteed college accommodation in their first year. For graduate students, the offer of a college place does not guarantee accommodation. The Graduate Accommodation Office lets and manages rooms, flats and houses in and around Oxford city centre, on sites owned by the University, to full-time graduate students. Contact the Graduate Accommodation Office to find further information on graduate student properties and how to apply for accommodation. 

Note that the UK Government requires private landlords to perform an immigration check to ensure you have the right to be in the UK before agreeing a tenancy. All University and college managed accommodation is exempt from this requirement and no immigration check is required. If you are overseas and looking for private accommodation this check can be done when you arrive in the UK, or online, rather than the usual 28 days before the tenancy starts, see pages 19 and 20 on the code of practice on right to rent for landlords.

If you are renting private accommodation be aware of scams or fraudulent activity where landlords or agents may ask for large deposits in advance. If you are not sure whether a request for a large deposit is genuine, or think it might be fraud, contact your college or the Graduate Accommodation Office for advice. 

Finances and opening a UK bank account

Managing your budget

Visit the fees and funding for advice on funding options and tips on managing your budget. Remember that you will have additional expenses at the end of your course in preparing to return home.

Be alert to any scams and potential fraud

You should be especially careful in the first few weeks of term about any scams by email, phone or social media that ask you for any payments or personal information. Fraudsters are known to take advantage of new students especially at the start of term and particularly if English is not your first language.

A legitimate organisation (UK or overseas) will always allow you time to seek advice before you respond, see the fees and funding page for more information about how to avoid these scams.

You should end the conversation immediately if you have any concerns, or if asked for a payment or personal details. You must end the conversation immediately and seek advice either from your college, department or the relevant central team at the University. You can contact them with the email subject title ‘potential fraud’ to gain their immediate attention. For visa or immigration matters contact [email protected], for fees or loans contact [email protected] and for any other matters, approach your college. 

Opening a UK bank account

UK banks are able to open accounts for European and International Students. However, as they need to collect certain information from you to meet UK government financial rules we have explained the steps you will need to follow below. This guide covers the main banks in Oxford (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Metro, Nat West, and Santander) but we have also explained about internet (online only) banks below. 

Most banks in Oxford will take 3 to 5 days to open your account (up to 10 days for Nat West) and you can often start the application process online but may need to visit the bank to show your identification documents. Metro bank can usually open your account on the same day. Barclays and Nat West require students to have been in the UK for three years to open a student account, but if you have not been here 3 years you can open a basic bank account which should be enough for your daily needs i.e. debit card and free banking. 

Let your college know if you are experiencing a delay in your account being opened and you are concerned about a deadline for paying your fees and they will advise you. 

Remember that if you plan to bring money into the UK you must declare any cash of €10,000 or more (or its equivalent in other currencies) to customs officers.

Essentials that require you to open a UK bank account

A contract UK mobile phone number
Pay-as-you-go sim cards can be bought with cash, but if you prefer a monthly contract,  you can only pay by direct debit from a UK bank account.

Paying your bills
Most utility companies (and letting agencies for private accommodation) will expect you to set up a standing order from a UK bank account to pay your bills.

Scholarships and salary payments for part-time and vacation work
Scholarship payments can usually only be made into a UK bank account. Most employers only pay their workers by BACS transfer into a UK bank account.

What services will the banks provide?

The banks vary in the services they provide:

  • All banks provide a cashpoint card to allow you to obtain cash from machines 24 hours a day. Debit cards can be used for shopping and to pay bills and these are provided by all the banks. This will usually take 3-5 days to be delivered to you but Metro bank can sometimes print the card in the branch on the same day. 
  • Most banks will provide a cheque book to students but you may need to request this; cheques are rarely used in the UK but can still be useful for making some payments.
  • Contactless payment allows you to make payments in some shops and supermarkets (less than £100) without having to enter your PIN number.
  • All banks offer online and telephone banking; you may like to discuss the security arrangements with the bank if you use these services.
  • A basic bank account will usually be free of charge i.e. for depositing money or making payments (cheques, direct debits) or running your daily account 
  • Be aware that cashpoints in some petrol stations, shops, remoter locations may charge a fee; but cashpoints in the main banks are usually free or charge

What should I consider when selecting a bank?

Some things you might want to consider researching when selecting your bank are:

  • how long it takes to receive a card
  • what, if any, are the monthly charges for accounts
  • overdraft facilities
  • debit and contactless cards
  • telephone banking and internet banking
  • mobile apps and text alerts
  • international transfer fees if you are planning on frequently sending or receiving money from home. 

Common terms about UK bank accounts

The Government Moneyhelper website has some useful information about the terminology used for a standard (current) bank account and the services that are offered. It also explains what to do if you want to make a complaint. The UKCISA website also offers a guide on opening a bank account.

Is online banking safe?

Yes, it is generally very safe in the UK, but take the usual precautions with your password and log-in details and it is better to use your own personal computer and not a computer in a public space.

Many banks will offer additional security measures such as a password generator device which you keep at home and generate a unique password each time you use internet banking. Banks will also provide demonstrations of such facilities online to new customers.

Internet (online only) bank accounts

There are also internet (online only) bank accounts that you might like to investigate as part of your considerations.

Please bear in mind that although such app-based accounts may offer faster account set-ups and cheaper international fund transfers, not having a physical bank to visit can present other challenges, such as needing to deposit cheques by post, or limits on the number of free ATM transactions that can be made in a month.

Online banks tend to have more limited services and are not regulated in the same way as mainstream high street banks are.

Monzo, Monese, Revolut, Starling Bank, and UniZest are online banks we are aware of that students have availed of, but please note that we do not endorse these companies.

We encourage you to do your own research when deciding whether these types of accounts are the right fit for you. 

Local bank opening times and locations

The banks referred to in this guide are located around Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford (Santander, Lloyds, HSBC  and  Metro Bank) and then NatWest, and Barclays are on Cornmarket Street further down from Carfax Tower. The banks in these locations will usually have staff trained to help new students and be more familiar with the documents required to open a bank account for international students; banks outside of the city centre may be less used to dealing with new students. The banks are open from 9.00am to 5.00pm Mondays to Fridays but note that some banks have a slightly later opening time on some mornings i.e. 9.30am or 10.00am. On Saturdays, they are usually open from 9.00am to 3.00pm or 4.00pm. Metro bank is open on Saturday and Sunday. 

What information will you need in order to open a bank account?

The local banks in this guide will usually require you to open an account online, where you will also be able to upload your documentation. They may ask you to come into the bank to show your identification. 

For most banks, you will need some or all of the following documents to open an bank account as an international student:

i. An in-date passport
All of the banks in the guide require a valid passport as part of the documentation needed to open a bank account.

ii. A valid visa
EU/EEA, Swiss nationals usually only need to show their passport. 
For non-EU nationals most banks will accept a valid student visa/other visa permission (or online eVisa). They will usually prefer to see the vignette and BRP (online eVisa) but Lloyds and HSBC will accept the vignette alone if your BRP is delayed. 
If you are here for less than 6 months, Barclays, Lloyds, Nat West and HSBC said they may be able to open a basic account for you. 

iii. Student Enrolment certificate pdf which must have your full student address (e.g. college address or private accommodation address) and postcode, be dated within the last 4 months, as well as being signed and stamped by your College. Barclays will require additional documentation including a tenancy agreement and will not accept the certificate alone. Nat West will not accept the student enrolment certificate and need a letter of introduction from your college addressed to Nat West bank and on headed paper with the same details as the enrolment certificate. 

iv. A bank statement from your home bank, from the past 3 months can be helpful. 

v. Take along your offer letter as it may be helpful for some banks 

vi. For all banks you will need a UK mobile number to open an account online or via their app. You can buy a pay-as-you-go sim card with cash at any mobile phone store. 

Please visit each bank’s page for more information on the documentation required from you:

Barclays Bank
Lloyds Bank
Metro bank 
Metro Bank

How to obtain and print your student enrolment certificate

The enrolment certificate can be used as proof of your student status at the banks listed in the guide, with these exceptions:
Barclays will not accept it alone and will need a tenancy agreement. 
Nat West will not accept the enrolment certificate and need a letter of introduction addressed to Nat West from your college, with the same details. 

Your enrolment certificate must have your complete student address and postcode, be dated within the last 4 months and be signed and stamped by your College.

Follow these steps to get your certificate:

Step 1: When your offer is complete (academic and financial conditions) IT Services will email you your ‘Single Sign-On’ login details. Single Sign-On is the system used at Oxford to access a wide range of IT services at the University by using only one log-in and password.

Step 2: In early September, you will receive an email asking you to complete your university student registration online. Complete this process as soon as you can. This is done in an online portal called ‘Student Self  Service’.  

Step 3: After completing Step 2, your college will contact you to finalise your registration. They will ask for electronic copies of documents such as your passport and visa (BRP) if you have a visa, and to complete other paperwork.

Step 4: Your college will then confirm on the Oxford student database that you have completed the registration process. You are now enrolled on your course.

Step 5: You can now generate and download* your student enrolment certificate from Student Self Service.

*At busy periods, you may have to wait a few hours for the IT system to update that your college has completed your registration before you can generate the certificate.

Health and insurance 

Healthcare system in the UK

Students from the UK or Ireland, or those with indefinite leave to remain or those who have been granted pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are eligible for free treatment under the National Health Service (NHS).

If you are visiting for a short period from the EU, EEA or Switzerland i.e. for 6 months or less you should bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are eligible to continue using it in the UK, see the UK Government website for changes as a result of Brexit. 

Students who require a visa (those not from the UK or Ireland, or those who do not hold indefinite leave to remain or pre-settled or settled status) and are studying full time for more than 6 months will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of a visa application to access the NHS services free of charge. Family members coming to the UK as dependents will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge to be eligible for the same access to the NHS.

The UKCISA website has a comprehensive explanation of how the UK health system works as this may be different from your home country. It explains your first points of contact, for example a GP (doctor) surgery or health centre, Accident and Emergency department and how and why you might be sent or referred to a hospital. For non-urgent medical help or advice you can call 111 24 hours a day and for emergency medical help call 999 24 hours a day.

If you have not previously registered with a UK doctor, make sure you do this on arrival so they have your medical history on file. Your college will help you with this process when you arrive.

If you are not exempt from hospital charges, or only partially exempt for other reasons, you are advised to take out appropriate private healthcare insurance for the length of your stay in the UK. This will include visitors coming for less 6 months or less and not on a student visa. 

Insurance for students

It is advisable to have travel insurance to cover your luggage, personal possessions, money and medical costs for your journey and the first few days here. If you are planning to take out an insurance policy which covers you for the length of your course in the UK, you may find that this also covers your journeys to and from home at the start and end of each term.

Pre-sessional English language course 

The Pre-sessional Course in Academic English is a 6 week summer course which introduces International students to the academic literacy skills needed to study at the University of Oxford. It focuses on both oral and written academic communication and provides a supportive learning environment for international students who are new to Oxford.  

The pre-sessional course prepares you for the academic rigour required at Oxford as well as providing opportunities for you to meet and connect with other students from around the world. This helps you integrate into University life quickly and effectively.

 Email [email protected] for further information. 

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