On top of the MBI Al Jaber Building
Students on top of the MBI Al Jaber Building
Copyright © Rob Judges Photography. This image comes from Oxford University Images - All rights reserved.

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 general advice about starting at Oxford for international students. For more specific information about coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the student pages of the COVID-19 Response site.

1. Apply for a UK student visa

If you are not a UK or Irish national, you will need a Student Visa to attend a full time course longer than six months. If you have indefinite leave to remain or pre-settled or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme you will not require a Student visa. You must apply for a Student Visa in your home country before travelling to the UK and allow sufficient time for the visa to be processed. You cannot come as a visitor and switch status, so you must attend your visa appointment and obtain your Student visa before coming to the UK. If your visa application is delayed because of the pandemic, refer to the webpages above about COVID-19 for what to do next as we may be able to help you start your studies online if necessary. 

If you are coming to Oxford for a shorter course (maximum six months), taking a distance learning course or undertaking a short period of study as a visiting student, you might need to apply for either a Visitor Visa or a Student Visa. Visit visa and immigration for more information.

2. Accommodation

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. 

If you cannot find family accommodation prior to your departure, it is advisable for you to travel here alone a couple of weeks before the start of term and arrange for your family to follow once you have found somewhere suitable to live.

Note that the UK Government now 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 rather than the usual 28 days before the tenancy starts, see section 5.1 of the guidance for landlords under the heading ‘timing’. If you are trying to arrange private accommodation and encounter any difficulties with the timing of this immigration check, please let your college know or email student.information@admin.ox.ac.uk.

3. Orientation

Orientation events for international students take place at the same time as for home students at the Student Union Freshers’ fair where you can talk to advisors from central University services and a number of visa presentations will also be held at the start of term. You will also receive induction information from your college and department about academic and social life at Oxford.

Alumni groups around the globe also organise freshers’ events, typically in mid to late September, for new students embarking on their educational journey at the University.

For more information, email student.information@admin.ox.ac.uk.

4. Finding your way to Oxford from the airports or Eurostar

The Finding your way to Oxford guide provides information about getting to Oxford from airports and the Eurostar. Inform your college of your arrival time, especially if you are arriving late at night.

5. Sort out your finances and bank account

Visit fees and funding for advice on funding options and managing your budget. The Oxford bank guide for European and International Students offers tips and guidance about how to open a bank account in the UK. This year most banks will open accounts online and many can accept uploaded documents as identity checks and proof of your student status. The UKCISA website also offers a guide on opening a bank account. If you plan to bring money into the UK and are arriving from a country outside the European Union you must declare any cash of 10,000 or more (or its equivalent in other currencies) to customs officers.

6. Be alert to scams and potential fraud - do not make any payments 

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, and seek advice from your college, department or the appropriate central University service. 

7. Medical treatment

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). EU, EEA and Swiss Students who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and are eligible but have not yet applied for the EU Settlement Scheme will need to apply before the deadline of 30 June 2021 to continue to be able to access the NHS services free of charge. 

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.

If you have not previously registered with a UK doctor, make sure you do this on arrival. Your college will help you with this process as you will need the NHS number provided after your register in case you need a COVID-19 test at any time in the future. 

Individual hospitals are responsible for checking whether a patient is entitled to free treatment, in accordance with the relevant regulations. In order to establish entitlement, hospitals can ask you to provide documentation that supports you and your family's claim. If you are unsure whether you are entitled to free hospital treatment, check with the Department of Health at:

Room 4W04b, Quarry House
Quarry Hill
Leeds LS2 7UE
Tel: 0113 2545819
Email: overseasvisitors@dh.gsi.gov.uk

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. For primary healthcare, you are advised to register with your college doctor or other local General Practitioner (GP).

8. Have you got insurance?

It is advisable to have travel insurance to cover your luggage, personal possessions, money and medical costs for your journey and 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.

9. 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 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 experience 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.

10. Registering with the police

Students from some countries may have to have their passport scanned or register with the police after they arrive. Visit visa and immigration for more details.

11. Pre-sessional English Course 

The Pre-sessional English course 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. Registration is open now, or you can email admin@lang.ox.ac.uk for further information. 

Was this page useful?*