Preparing for your exchange
As an Erasmus+/exchange student coming to study at the University of Surrey, there are a number of things you must do before you travel to the UK. This section will help prepare you for your period at Surrey and for the journey.
We suggest you start preparations as early as you can to ensure that the transition from home to Surrey is an exciting and rewarding experience and to ensure that you do not miss any essential activities at the beginning of the academic year which might have a negative impact on your academic success.
For information to help you prepare for life and study in the UK, visit Academic preparation.
The University’s International Student Support Office & Global Engagement Office manages a Buddy Scheme to enable new international/exchange students to meet current Surrey students. The Buddy Scheme is designed to help you in settling in and getting to know the campus and Guildford.
The Global Engagement Office will be in touch asking if you are interested in this scheme before your exchange begins. You will be given contact details for your assigned Surrey buddy who you can contact before you arrive, ask any questions you may have and arrange to meet up with them during your first few days at Surrey.
Immigration and visas
If you have a current passport/national identity card from a European Economic Area (EEA) country (includes all EU member states, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) or from Switzerland, you will not need a visa to come and study in the UK.
If you do not have a passport from an EEA country or Switzerland, you will need to either:
- request a Short-term Study Visa at the port of entry as you enter the UK - this is for non-visa nationals* only, who are studying or doing research in the UK for up to 6 months as part of their overseas degree. You will need to carry all of the necessary supporting documents for the Short-term Study Visa in your hand luggage to show at the border when you arrive and every time you re-enter the UK during your stay. No cost.
- apply for a Short-term Study Visa before you travel - this is for visa nationals*, who are studying or doing research in the UK for up to 6 months as part of their overseas degree. Non-visa nationals may also apply for this in advance of travel to avoid having to show the supporting documents every time they re-enter the UK during their stay. Visa fee payable.
- apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa before you travel - this is for students staying longer than 6 months and/or wishing to study AND work, including paid work, voluntary work, work experience, work placements or internships. NB: to be eligible for a Tier 4 visa students must meet the University of Surrey’s English language requirement of a minimum of IELTS 6.5, with 6.0 in each component, or IELTS 7.0, with 7.0 in each component, for student nurses. Citizens of most countries will need to pay a Health Surcharge of £150, as well as a substantial visa fee.
* Visa nationals are citizens of certain countries who need to apply for a UK visa in advance of travel - for a current list of countries, see Appendix 2 of the UK's immigration rules. If you complete the visa check on the UK Visas and Immigration website to find out which visa you need, visa nationals will be told they need a Short-term Study Visa, whilst non-visa nationals will be told they do not need a visa, but should bring supporting documents with them to show at the border.
Our Global Engagement Office will email students who need a visa with more detailed information about the different visas and will ask them to confirm which visa they will require.
For further information about visas and the supporting documents you need to provide, please see UKCISA’s Visas and immigration page or the University’s visa web page. For advice regarding visas, please contact the University’s International Student Support team on firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 0044 1483 686868.
As a Tier 4 sponsor, the University of Surrey is responsible for monitoring students and their attendance at classes during their studies.
We recommend booking your travel as early as possible to get the best price. However, students who need to apply for a visa are advised to get their visa first.
Please note the exchange arrival and departure dates when booking your travel.
If you will be taking exams at Surrey, please do not book your return/onward travel for before the end of the exam period (exam timetables will be available a month before the start of the exam period). Also, be aware that unusually heavy spring snowfall can result in examinations being postponed!
Erasmus students taking assignment-only modules should note that the minimum stay to be eligible for Erasmus+ study exchange funding is 3 months.
The International Student Support team organises a Meet and Greet service to meet and collect students from our nearest international airports, London Gatwick and London Heathrow, on the exchange arrival day in September, and from Heathrow only in February. Please follow the link above for further information and to book your place on the Meet and Greet a few weeks before your travel by completing the Meet and Greet Airport Pickup Form. NB. You will need your flight details to complete the form. Students who will already be in the UK or will be arriving using other means of transport may also use the Meet and Greet service from Heathrow – the section below on Travelling to the University provides further details.
Exchange students are eligible to apply for University accommodation. We try to allocate rooms to all of our exchange students, but it is not guaranteed and a few may need to rent a room in the private sector.
The University of Surrey’s accommodation is grouped into self-catered ‘Courts of Residence’ on three sites:
- Stag Hill (our main campus where most academic buildings are located)
- Manor Park (our residential village, 5 minutes by bus/15 minutes on foot)
- Hazel Farm (2 miles north/20-30 minutes by bus – all residents receive a free bus pass covering the whole of the Guildford area).
NB. Students may not move into their accommodation before the designated September/ February arrival day for Erasmus/exchange students, and must vacate their room by the last date on their rental contract.
Student rooms can only be allocated for full semesters, so project students are advised to come to Surrey for the whole semester or at the start of the semester if possible. Students coming outside the normal semester dates are advised to contact the Accommodation Office for assistance with renting in the private sector (see section below). It may be easiest to find a room to rent in a family home nearby.
Student nurses are advised to book accommodation in Royal Surrey County Hospital key-worker flats as these are conveniently located next to the hospital and just 10 minutes by bus from the University. Details of how to apply will be emailed to students once their exchange application has been accepted. Applicants will need to either pay the rent in full before their arrival or provide the financial details of a guarantor. If no rooms are available, students should contact the University Accommodation Office for assistance in finding a room to rent in the private sector (see section below).
Courts are divided into blocks containing a number of flats/apartments. Each flat shares a kitchen and some share a bathroom. Ensuite rooms have their own shower and toilet. Each room has a broadband connection and a telephone point with its own telephone number. Rent includes personal possessions insurance, broadband and telephone connection, gas, electricity and water. Bedding, towels and kitchen utensils, pans etc. are not provided. Meal plans are also not provided – all accommodation is self-catering.
University accommodation is divided into different price bands. Follow this link for descriptions and images of the rooms in each price band.
Exchange students must pay for their accommodation while they are at Surrey.
When applying for university accommodation, students are asked to indicate their order of preference. We do our best to offer students one of their top preferences, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Our Accommodation Office can assist students with finding a room to rent in the private sector nearby. If you wish to rent privately, please contact the Accommodation Office for information and advice.
Successful exchange applicants will be emailed details of StudentPad, our online private-sector student housing search facility, which contains details of rooms in shared student houses and in private homes, that have been tried and tested by other students.
If you are coming for less than 6 months (the usual period for private sector rentals), it may be easiest to find a room in a private family home or at the Guildford YMCA, which is 10 minutes’ walk from the main campus.
We will email exchange students in July/November with details of how to apply for University accommodation using our online application form. The email will contain your unique Student Number, which you need in order to complete the form. You will need to indicate your preferred price bands in order of preference. You will not be able to specify a particular Court or site. If you have any special requirements, these can be entered on the form.
The Accommodation Office will confirm by email whether students have been allocated a room by:
Autumn/Semester 1 entry: late August/early September
Spring/Semester 2 entry: December/early January
All successful applicants will be asked to pay a deposit to secure their room and must complete an e-induction form, following which they will be emailed details of their room, flat number and block. Students should carry this email in their hand luggage when they travel to Surrey so that it can be presented at the key collection point.
Students must make a pre-payment of GB£250 to secure their room. They will then be invoiced by email for the remainder of the semester’s fees a couple of weeks after their arrival. Fees for the spring semester are split into two instalments. Check here for the payment schedule.
Students can pay for their room by online debit or credit card payment or by bank transfer. Payment should be made online through the e-payment gateway or in person in the Student
Bedding and towels are not provided. Students coming by car can bring their own bedding/towels, but most students will need to purchase a bedding pack prior to arrival through the University’s online store. These are very reasonably priced, include a complete set of bedding and a towel, and will be in your room when you arrive.
All rooms have broadband internet access, but if you prefer wireless access in your room, ResNet Wi-Fi access kits can be purchased through the University’s online store.
Kitchen utensils, pots and pans, etc. can be purchased at Tesco’s, a large supermarket 10 minutes’ walk from the main campus/Manor Park, or from Primark in the Friary Shopping Centre in Guildford town centre. It is also worth checking whether any kitchen equipment has been left at your Court Reception by previous residents.
The University supports current smoke-free legislation. It is therefore illegal to smoke inside any University building. This includes your University bedroom, kitchen and common room areas.
The University will not be able to help fund your stay. If you need to work part-time while studying in the UK, we recommend a maximum of 12 hours/week. Students from non-EEA countries do not automatically have a right to seek employment in the UK, so should not rely on part-time work to supplement their finances. Students applying for a student visa/entry clearance will need to provide evidence of their funding when applying for their visa or seeking entry clearance
You should pay for things in the UK in UK currency (pounds sterling) whenever possible as you will need to make up for any shortfall arising from currency fluctuations or bank transfer charges. Allow for any increases in exchange rates which may affect your living costs.
Check with your own bank about requirements for transferring funds well before you are due to travel. If you need written evidence from the University concerning your admission, registration or your estimated expenses, you should obtain this from the International Relations Office.
Fluctuating exchange rates can make a big difference so try to change your money at the right time but make sure this does not cause you to miss important payment deadlines. If you open a bank account in the UK, your sponsor or family will be able to transfer funds into your account directly. There may be charges for this and for currency conversion.
You should bring a small amount of UK sterling with you for expenses at the airport, travel to the campus and initial living costs, but you should not need more than GB£200. It is also a good idea to obtain a credit card from home as a contingency and for getting cash from ATM machines, although there is likely to be a handling fee for each transaction, or you can bring sterling travellers’ cheques to pay for accommodation. Any money that you need to use urgently to pay accommodation fees should be in a bank draft made out to the ‘University of Surrey’, not yourself. Do not carry funds in a bank draft made out in your own name as you will need to open a bank account and allow up to four weeks for the money to clear.
You will need to budget carefully to cover all your living costs, which include accommodation, clothes, transport, books, food and entertainment, plus your flight to the UK. Although the UK Visas and Immigration has specific financial requirements for a visa application, it is very difficult to estimate how much money you will spend in a semester or year as it depends on an individual’s lifestyle and circumstances. The University of Surrey estimates that you will need at least GB£250 per week to cover your general living expenses, including rent. This amounts to approximately GB£13,000 for one full calendar year.
Remember, you will need to spend more money at the beginning of the programme as you will need to buy one-off items such as bedding, kitchen equipment and books. You may also have to spend more if you are studying on certain programmes where you may need to buy special equipment. Small charges may be made by some departments for supplementary materials or services.
University accommodation is usually cheaper than living off campus as the rent includes heating, lighting, internet connection and contents insurance. For a full breakdown of costs, please see our accommodation prices site. Please check your accommodation allocation letter when budgeting for your living expenses to see how much your rent will be.
The International Student Calculator is a useful way of helping you to check that you will be able to manage your finances and gives some approximate guidance on rent and wages as well. You can also find information on average shopping prices and the typical cost of eating out.
Another useful source of information to help you budget and to find out what is available to eat in the UK is My Supermarket. If you click on “Start Shopping”, you can set the local supermarket as Tesco (our nearest large supermarket) and, without needing to register, you can see the types of food sold in the UK and the price of individual items.
- Self-catering is cheaper than eating out. Making your own lunch, buying food from the local supermarket and looking out for ‘own brands’ (products made by the supermarkets themselves) and bargains help to save money
- Try shopping and cooking with friends as this is cheaper than cooking for one
- University housing includes heating, electricity and broadband bills so you have no surprises at the end of the month
- Consider pay-as-you-go mobile phone services instead of long contracts you may not need
- Wait until you start your programme before buying books – you may be able to buy second hand books or use the library in some cases
- Take advantage of student discounts – you may be able to get reduced-price tickets at the cinema, art exhibitions, in shops, and hairdressers
- Consider buying a second-hand bicycle if you are going to live off the main campus
- Use international telephone cards (available on campus) to make cheaper calls home or use free internet services such as Skype or Whatsapp
- You do not have to buy expensive bottled water – tap water is drinkable in the UK
- Visit the campus fruit and vegetable market on a Thursday for a variety of produce at reasonable prices
All students should take out travel insurance before travelling to the UK. Students who travel to another country for a holiday during their studies in the UK must take out additional travel insurance.
All students living in University accommodation are covered by personal possessions insurance (up to £4,000) and laptop insurance (up to £2,000), but can extend the cover for an additional fee to include mobile phones outside your room and other benefits. Students living in private-sector accommodation will need to find out whether personal possessions insurance is included in their rent.
The University has a Student Health Centre, Guildowns Group Practice, on the main Stag Hill campus. The Royal Surrey County Hospital is also nearby and has an Accident & Emergency department.
Details of who is entitled to free treatment under the UK’s National Health Service, the NHS, are available on the UKCISA website. The following NHS treatment is free for everyone:
• emergency hospital treatment (but not follow-up treatment)
• family planning services
• diagnosis and treatment of certain communicable diseases
• compulsory psychiatric treatment
If you are an EU/EEA student or an international student, living in Guildford and studying at Surrey for more than 6 months, you are eligible for the same free NHS healthcare as a UK citizen, which includes everything except prescriptions, eye tests and glasses, and dental treatment. Prescriptions for medicine currently cost £8.05 per item. You should register with the University’s Student Health Centre, Guildowns Group Practice, at the university registration session during orientation. Please complete and print out the Guildowns patient health questionnairebefore you travel and bring it to the university registration session. The University Medical Centre is open from 8:30am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday, throughout the year, except on Wednesday afternoons. Routine appointments can be made to see a doctor or nurse by booking with reception Tel: 01483 409309. If you are living outside Guildford, you can find your nearest doctors’ surgery (general practitioner, or GP) to register with on the NHS choices website.
If you are studying at the University of Surrey for less than 6 months, you will not be covered by the NHS, except for the free services listed above, and you are advised to take out private health insurance, unless you are from an EU country or a country with a reciprocal health agreement. EU students will receive some free and some reduced-cost treatment. Should you fall ill or need treatment, you may register as a temporary private patient at the University’s Student Health Centre or at your local GP (see NHS choices website for your local GP). The treatment charges are available from the Student Health Centre or GP reception.
It is important to let the doctor know of any significant medical problems you have as soon as possible, so that appropriate arrangements can be made for your support. In particular, the doctor would need to know about any important on-going problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health problems etc. You should bring with you any medical notes you have concerning your illness, together with enough medication for a least the first month.
A pharmacy is also a useful source of information and a pharmacist can provide basic medications for minor illnesses such as colds, coughs or hay fever - over-the-counter medicines may also be cheaper than prescription medication. There is a small pharmacy in the University shop and several local pharmacies near the University. You should make an appointment to see the doctor if symptoms persist. You can also call NHS Direct for help and advice by simply dialling 111 at any time or visit their website.
The University has a Centre for Wellbeing, which provides counselling and emotional support for a wide range of personal issues and mental health problems. The Centre offers 20-minute drop-in sessions or you can arrange a longer session by telephoning 01483 689498 or emailing email@example.com.
The Erasmus/Exchange Orientation is your introduction to your study exchange at the University of Surrey and will provide practical and academic information, as well as being a great opportunity to meet other exchange students and see something of the local area before your studies begin. The 2-day Orientation is compulsory for all exchange students, apart from Nursing placement students who will be emailed a separate orientation programme.
The week following the September Exchange Orientation is ‘Welcome Week’. The Welcome Week events programme is designed to help all new students get to know the University and their Faculty. It is an opportunity to meet other students on your programme, to find out about the social and sporting activities 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.
Welcome Week events start on the Sunday after your Erasmus/Exchange Orientation, with receptions for all new students in each Accommodation Court.
The University’s Welcome website will become live in mid-August and 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, as well as helping you to prepare for your arrival at Surrey. It also contains your full exchange student timetable for Welcome Week (September only). We will email you a reminder in August to download or print off your timetable.