Your first days at Surrey as an exchange student

Find out about what needs to be done in the first few days to enable a smooth transition to your time at Surrey.

Please be sure to print off or download to your phone the 'Orientation Programme'.

Please note: This information reflects standard practices. We endeavour to offer an exchange programme as normally as possible this year, however in light of the COVID-19 situation, there may be changes and we are expecting a more hybrid approach (combination of in person and online). We will keep you updated via email regarding exchange specific changes and please refer to the University's coronavirus webpage for general updates. 

Settling in

All exchange students should be provided information via either the Meet & Greet, Accommodation or IEO team with regards to their arrival. 

Typically students arriving through Heathrow airport Meet and Greet scheme will be dropped off at Cathedral Court reception on the main Stag Hill campus up until 7pm.

  • Students staying in accommodation at Stag Hill will collect their keys here and student helpers will take them to their accommodation on foot or by minibus.
  • Students staying at Hazel Farm, who arrive at Cathedral Court before 7pm, will be taken by minibus to Hazel Farm, where they will collect their keys.
  • Students staying at Manor Park, who arrive at Cathedral Court before 7pm, will be taken by minibus or by a student helper on a local bus (cost 70 pence) to Manor Park reception to collect their keys.

Typically after 7pm, all Stag Hill and Hazel Farm keys should be collected from the Security Office on the ground floor of Senate House, which is open 24 hours a day, whilst Manor Park keys should be collected from Manor Park reception.

Please keep in touch with the Accommodation Office if you change your arrival plans.

Once you have settled in to your accommodation, if you have time, we would recommend you visit your local supermarket for food and other items for your flat. For students on the main Stag Hill campus or at Manor Park, the nearest supermarket is the Tesco superstore (15 or 10- minutes walk respectively/five minutes by bus), and for Hazel Farm residents, Budgens or Costcutter (five to 10-minute walk). The Tesco superstore has a wide range of foods from around the world, as well as foods for special dietary requirements.

See our ‘Student Guide to Guildford and Beyond’ for more information about local shops and services.

If you haven’t already, why not arrange to meet for a drink or lunch with the buddy that has been assigned to you so that you can ask them any questions you may have. They will be able to help you settle in and find your way around.

Orientation and your learning agreements

Erasmus+/exchange students must attend the Exchange Orientation Programme during your first two days at Surrey. View the exact dates

The orientation consists of registration, talks including a welcome talk, UK study skills workshop.

This will provide you with all the information you need for your exchange and will be an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the main campus and your department, and to meet your fellow exchange students.

You will receive a Welcome Pack containing useful university and local information, together with your exchange arrival certificate. February starters will meet with their Departmental Exchange Coordinator/Administrator during the Orientation to finalise their learning agreement. The team will send you a finalised programme shortly before your arrival. 

The Welcome Week programme in September is designed to help all new students get to know the University and their faculty (there is no Welcome Week in February). It is an opportunity to meet other students on your programme, to find out about the student clubs and societies on offer, and covers all the information that you need to know to get started on your course and get the most out of your stay at Surrey. You will also meet with your Departmental Exchange Coordinator/Administrator to finalise your learning agreement.

Welcome Week events for all students will start on the Sunday after your Erasmus/Exchange Orientation with receptions for students in each accommodation court.

The University’s Welcome to Surrey website will become live in mid to late-August and this will provide you with full information on how to complete the first part of the university registration process online whilst still in your home country and help you prepare for your arrival at Surrey. It also contains your full exchange student timetable for Welcome Week. We will email you a reminder in August.

A meeting will be scheduled for you with your Departmental Exchange Coordinator or Administrator during Orientation (February) or in your first week at Surrey (September) to finalise your learning agreement. You must email a fully signed copy of your final learning agreement to the Global Engagement Office ( and to your home institution as soon as possible and, at the latest, by the Friday of the second week of teaching. This is the study programme for which you will be registered and no changes may be made after this date.

University registration and student card

You will attend a university registration session to complete your university registration. You must bring to this:

  • An electronic copy or print-out of your ‘Confirmation of Pre-Registration’ (see Initial Registration section)
  • Your passport / national identity card
  • A photocopy of the Personal Details and Current Visa pages
  • A photocopy of all other stamped and visa pages of your passport
  • Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and a photocopy of both sides of this card if you have extended your student visa in the UK
  • A copy of your ATAS certificate if you required one to get your student visa
  • Your patient health questionnaire if appropriate (see ‘Registering with a Doctor’ below)

Once you are fully registered, you will have your photo taken and be issued with your University of Surrey Student Card. This student card entitles you to student discounts on public transport and in participating stores and venues on and off campus; gives you access to the library and allows you to borrow books and pay for photocopying; allows you to access to computer laboratories and some academic buildings, and enables you to take part in Students’ Union events and trips.

If you are an EU/EEA student or an international student, living in Guildford and studying at Surrey for more than six months, you should register for free National Health Service (NHS) healthcare at the Student Health Centre, Guildowns Group Practice, at the university registration session during orientation. Please bring your completed Guildowns patient health questionnaire with you to the registration session. Alternatively, if you are living outside Guildford, you should register with your nearest doctors’ surgery or ‘GP’ – see the NHS choices website for details.

If you are studying on a programme of study of less than six months and fall ill or need ongoing treatment, you should go and register as a temporary private patient with the Student Health Centre or your nearest doctors’ surgery or ‘GP’ – see the NHS choices website for details.

Let the doctor know of any significant medical problems as soon as possible and don’t forget to take along your medical notes.

If you would like to see a Counsellor at the University’s Centre for Wellbeing for emotional support or about a mental health problem, why not attend a 20-minute drop-in session or arrange a longer session Tel: 01483 689498 Email:

Students from EU/EEA countries do not need to register with the police. Students from certain non-EEA countries and non-Commonwealth countries may need to register with the Police upon arrival in the UK. The list changes, so please check the visa stamp in your passport as this is the best way to see if you need to register.

If you do need to register and you have not registered before during another course in the UK, you may be able to do this on campus. Do not be too concerned that the stamp says ‘within seven days’ because, as students of the University, you are given a small extension to this deadline. Please ask the International Student Support team about Police Registration sessions. More information can be found in the international pre-departure guide.

If there are no sessions on campus or you cannot attend one of them, you will need to go to the Surrey Police Headquarters in person:

Surrey Police Headquarters
Mount Browne, Sandy Lane, Guildford, Surrey GU3 1HG
Open 9:00am to 3:00pm from Monday to Friday
Call 101 and ask for the Nationality Department to arrange an appointment.
To get to Mount Browne you need to take a taxi or bus from the Bus Station in the centre of Guildford.

In order to register either on campus or at the Police Headquarters, you need the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • One recent passport-size photograph
  • £34 registration fee (cash only)
  • Your University acceptance email
  • Electronic confirmation of your appointment

Once you have registered, your Police Registration Certificate will be sent to you at the address that you have given the Police. This is a very important document. Keep it with your passport at all times. It is essential that you make your initial registration as soon as you can upon arrival in the UK and that you inform the Police of any changes in your address or circumstances during your stay in the UK (failure to do so is a criminal offence).

Using your overseas bank card in the UK could incur significant currency transfer fees. 

Exchange students who are here for more than six months should be able to open a bank account with one of the high street banks to avoid these fees. There are branches of most major banks and building societies in Guildford town centre.

Examples of accounts include:

  • a Current Account (one semester students)
  • OR an International Student Current Account (full-year students only)

Typically they will require you to bring, but please check the relevant bank's terms and conditions:

  • A ‘Confirmation of Registration’ letter available from the MySurrey Hive after you have completed the registration process at the University (please allow several days for this letter to be produced, particularly at the beginning of the semester and at other busy times of the year)
  • Confirmation of both your UK semester time address and your overseas home address. Evidence of this may be available on the above letter, from a recent bank statement from your home country or in your original offer letter.
  • A letter of introduction from your home bank or copies of the last six months’ bank statements (translated into English) are also helpful, although not essential.

Students who are studying in the UK for less than six months won’t be able to open a bank account at a high street bank (because you are not studying in the UK for long enough or haven't been a UK resident for long enough to be eligible). You therefore have two options: 

  1. Apply for a pre-paid card – this would ensure you aren’t using cash (which in addition to the normal  concerns about loss or theft, is not very much in use this year because of the pandemic and carries health risks). Pre-paid cards do have some associated fees but are likely to work out much cheaper than using an overseas bank card in the UK. See 
  2. Apply to an online banking service, eg. Monzo, Starling, Revolut, amongst others – these banks don’t generally require documentary evidence beyond proof of your right to be in the UK e.g. a passport/visa. You can download the relevant apps and go from there.

Languages and learning support

Our English Language Support Programme (ELSP) is available to all students registered at the University of Surrey. The ELSP is free of charge and is particularly useful for students who, although they have already met the University’s entry requirements in English, feel they need further help with communication in the language for their studies. Many native English speakers will also benefit from the academic writing and presentation skills programmes we offer.

During your first few days at Surrey, all non-native speakers of English must take a short diagnostic English test to help us identify whether there are any English language courses that might benefit you. You will receive an email recommending particular courses that would be useful to you.

The programme can help if you:

  • Lack confidence in your use of English
  • Have specific language difficulties which might affect your academic performance
  • Wish to practise and improve your study skills
  • Have never studied in the UK before

The classes are around one to two hours per week and you will be able to sign up online for up to three courses.

If you wish to study another language during your stay, now is the time to sign up for:

If you have a disability or a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, Surrey's disability and neurodiversity support (ALS) is here to help you.

To book one-to-one learning support, make an appointment to see a disability advisor. If you think that you’ll need this kind of support, please get in touch with us as soon as possible if you haven't already done so. 

Sports, societies, events and trips

The Freshers’ Fayre in Welcome Week (September), organised by the Students’ Union, is your opportunity to see the 100 or so student societies and sports clubs on offer at the University and to sign up for any that are of interest. You can join clubs and societies at other times of year by dropping them an email – see the Students’ Union’s Sports and Societies page for club information and contact details.

The Students’ Union organises an active programme of weekend trips to cities and tourist attractions around the UK, as well as a couple of European city trips and outings to local theme parks. Tickets are available from the Union Shop in the main entrance to the Students’ Union – trips and activities sell out fast, so to avoid disappointment, don’t delay!

The Union also runs a lively programme of events in its nightclub and bar – check out the monthly Events Planner for details. Details of other Union events can be found on their website.

The Global Engagement Office will organise a number of social events and outings for you during your stay at Surrey, so look out for the emails in your Surrey inbox.

Students who are interested in using the fantastic facilities at the University’s Surrey Sports Park (five minutes by bus from the main campus/five minutes’ walk from Manor Park) may go and take a look around at any time.

Many of the student sports clubs use the Sports Park facilities.

For exchange/study abroad students there is a short term membership available. The incoming exchange team will provide you with further guidance on how to access this membership in your first few weeks.  

See our our Guildford location for more information about places to visit in Guildford town, in the wider county of Surrey and further afield in the UK.

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International Engagement Office
University of Surrey