Advice for International Students
While our budgeting and money management advice may be useful to you, if you are an international student then you may have restrictions on how many hours you can work, what sort of bank account you can open and more.
- We have a range of scholarships for international students with more tips for budgeting, opening a bank account and working in the UK below.
- We also have an International Support Fund that helps international students who are experiencing an unplanned and unpredictable expenditure or disruption to your source of finance for fee repayments and living costs.
- Students who are U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens may also be eligible for a U.S. Federal Loan.
Make sure to look out for money scams, tricks and instances of fraud too.
Make a budget plan before you arrive in the UK. For more information about this and the cost of living in the UK, please visit UKCISA. Note that the cost of living required to be shown for your visa is an estimate. Whatever you do, do not divert this money for other purposes.
Find more information about the cost of living in Salford and Greater Manchester.
Some bank accounts from back home have high spending charges for use in the UK. Others have restrictions on spending overseas. It can also cost a lot of money to get money sent over to you.
At the time of writing, you can open an account with some banks before you arrive in the UK, such as Monzo. This is a good way to avoid inconvenience when you arrive in the UK and are settling in. You may need a UK address so that such a bank can send its debit card to your address in the UK.
- For international transfers, shopping around for the cheapest exchange rate is the best thing to do
- If you plan to use a credit card or bank card from your home country in the UK, check with your bank before you leave to see if your card is compatible with UK bank machines or if there will be any additional charges. Some countries may restrict native currency withdrawals overseas so check that too
- Make sure you have multiple ways of accessing your money when you arrive in the UK. It is a good idea to bring some Pounds Sterling, traveller’s cheques or a debit card with you to get by until you set up your UK bank account
- If you plan to transfer money from your home bank account to your UK account, discuss this with your bank before leaving home
- Avoid travelling with very large amounts of cash as this is dangerous
It makes sense to open a British bank account that will charge you less for services.
To open a high street bank account in the UK, you must have both of these:
- Proof of your ID: your passport, national ID card, BRP or driving licence (it must be photo ID)
- Proof that you are a student: you can order a bank letter from ‘letter requests’
Some banks might also want to see the following:
- Proof of your address in the UK: utility or council tax bills
- Proof of your address overseas: a bank statement from your country of origin
There is an online guide and various different UK banks hold their own information on their own websites.
Some issues you should consider before opening a UK account include:
- The length of time it takes to open an account and receive your bank card
- Banking services overall are improving, and not all banks are the same
- A multicurrency account can be useful as there may be no conversion charges
- Note than convenient mobile phone-based banking account apps are now increasing in quantity, quality and security. Always use maximum security such as fingerprint protection and 2FA where offered
- With a traditional bank you may need to book an appointment at your chosen branch. Please note that this may also be time consuming as many students will also be setting up accounts at the same time. Be sure that your appointment falls after you have enrolled, so that you have all the necessary documents to open the account. If you cannot attend the appointment or do not have the necessary paperwork, contact the bank to rearrange the meeting
- Asking your bank for a posted monthly statement is helpful if you need to make an application to extend your student visa
- Some international student accounts may charge an initial or monthly fee. The additional services provided with these accounts will vary between each bank. Some banks will also offer a free, but more basic, account
- If you are expecting to receive money from overseas, you should ask what charges may apply and how long it will take to make the money available in your account
Working in the UK
- Many international students take a part-time job while studying. Visa limitations mean you won’t earn enough to pay your fees, but a part-time job can help with your living costs.
- Working restrictions should be outlined on your BRP visa
- The Home Office Compliance Team can help you apply for a National Insurance Number
- You can find part-time work through Unitemps or the Careers & Enterprise team
- Careers & Enterprise can help you with your CV
- The United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has a website devoted to information for international students including working in the UK