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
Unless you are a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national, to attend a full time course for longer than six months you must apply for a Tier 4 (General) 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 Tier 4 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 period of study as a visiting student, you might need to apply for either a Short-Term Student Visa or a Tier 4 Student Visa. Visit visa and immigration for more information.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Britain, the European Economic Area (EEA) and any country with reciprocal health arrangements are eligible for free treatment under the National Health Service (NHS). You should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that will entitle you to NHS medical treatment during your studies in the UK. You are advised to apply for an EHIC card before arriving in Oxford, and reminded that you should show the card if you need medical treatment during your time in the UK. Consult the NHS guidance leaflet for more information.
Students from outside the EEA who are studying full time for more than 6 months and applied for a visa before 6 April 2015 are entitled to free NHS treatment. Those who paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of a visa application on or after 6 April 2015 are also allowed access to the NHS free of charge. Family members in the UK as dependents will 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
Leeds LS2 7UE
Tel: 0113 2545819
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 email@example.com for further information.