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.
Please note: The University of Surrey have Erasmus+ funding secured until 2023.You will need to check the project duration of your home institution.
Please note: This webpage 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 coronavirus webpage for general updates.
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 Prepare for Study.
The University’s International 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 International 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
Visa rules for students coming to study in the UK after 31 December 2020 have changed.
Check whether you will need a visa to study in the UK by entering brief details into the UK Government visa checker.
UK study of more than 6 months
Non-UK/non-Irish nationals coming to study in the UK for more than 6 months (i.e. two semesters) or wishing to work as well as study (including paid work, voluntary work, work experience, work placements or internships), will need to apply for and secure the new points-based Student visa before travelling to the UK. There is a visa fee and many students will also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge as part of the visa application – this entitles you to treatment under the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) on the same basis as UK residents. Non-native English speakers are required to submit one of the University's accepted English language qualifications with their exchange application as evidence that they meet our minimum level of competence in English.
The University will email you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number for your visa application once you have been formally accepted. You may work (paid, unpaid or internship) in the UK whilst you are here studying.
UK study of 6 months or less
Depending on your nationality, non-UK/non-Irish students coming to study in the UK for 6 months or less will need to either:
- apply for and secure a Standard Visitor visa before travelling to the UK (the visa checker will say you need a visa). We will email you a visa support letter for your visa application once you have been accepted.
- enter the UK as a Visitor without needing to apply for a visa in advance of travel (the visa checker will say you don’t need a visa). You will still need to carry the supporting documents needed for the Standard Visitor visa with you whenever you travel into the UK whilst studying here. Once we have accepted you, we will email you a formal acceptance letter to show at border control.
To study or research certain subjects, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. You need to apply for the ATAS certificate before starting your course. Processing time: up to 4 weeks.
Visa processing time: around 3 weeks.
For further information about visas and the supporting documents you need to provide, see
For advice regarding visas, please contact the University’s International Student Support team on email@example.com.
As a Student Visa sponsor, the University of Surrey is responsible for monitoring students and their attendance at classes during their studies.
The University has a duty to report to UK Visas & Immigration if you fail to arrive for the start of the course, withdraw from a course, defer or suspend your studies, complete your course before the expected end date or fail to attend without authorisation from your Faculty. This may lead to your visa being curtailed. You must therefore keep in touch with your Faculty, the Visa Compliance team and the International Student Office at all times, particularly if you encounter any problems before or during your studies.
- Travellers from certain countries will need to self-isolate for 10 days after arriving in the UK - see the UK's travel corridor list for countries that are exempt. Please try to arrive early for the start of your course if you will need to self-isolate on arrival (NB. The Student visa allows you to arrive a few weeks early; the Standard Visitor visa only allows you to arrive 7 days before your orientation; Visitors who don't need to apply for a visa can arrive a few weeks before their start date). The University will not charge you for accommodation in the 10 days before your start date if you need to self-isolate.
- All travellers to the UK must complete the Passenger Locator Form in the 48 hours before travel and carry it in your hand luggage to show at border control on arrival.
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. Also, please plan to arrive early if you will need to self-isolate on arrival.
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. See descriptions, virtual tours 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.
Please see our Pay your tuition and accommodation fees page for how to pay.
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 does not have any bursaries or scholarships for exchange students, and it will not be able to help fund your stay.
Students with a Student visa may work for up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during vacations; student Visitors are not allowed to work whilst studying in the UK (paid, unpaid, internship or work placement as part of your course).
Students applying for a visa will need to provide evidence that they have sufficient funds for their stay. Students who don't need a visa should also carry evidence that they have sufficient funds to cover their living costs each time they enter the UK.
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 Engagement 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.
For visa and immigration purposes, you need to show that you have enough money to cover living costs (maintenance) of GB£1,023 per month for the duration of your stay.
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 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.
- 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 with health cover 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.
Registering with a doctor
The University's Student Health Centre, Guildowns Group Practice, on the main campus is currently full and not taking new patients. However, there are a number of doctors' surgeries (or GPs as they are called in the UK) a short walk from campus - for details of these and other health services, see My Surrey.
The Royal Surrey County Hospital is 5 minutes by bus from the main campus and next to the Manor Park residences. It has an Accident & Emergency department, open 24/7.
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
Most international students studying at Surrey for more than 6 months will have paid the healthcare surcharge with their Student visa application. This entitles you to the same free UK National Health Service (NHS) healthcare as a UK citizen, but excludes prescriptions, eye tests, glasses and dental treatment. Even if you have paid the healthcare surcharge you may need some health cover with your travel insurance. Prescription costs can be found on the NHS website. You should register with your nearest off-campus GP in your first week at Surrey - see NHS choices website.
International students studying at Surrey for less than 6 months will not be covered by the NHS, except for the free services listed above, and students from countries with a reciprocal health agreement with the UK are unlikely to have full health and repatriation cover, so you must take out private health insurance. If you fall ill or need treatment during your stay, you should phone your nearest off-campus GP to book an appointment (see NHS choices website) and register as a temporary private patient. The treatment charges will be available from the GP reception.
European Health Insurance Card
European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) will no longer be valid for EU/EEA/Swiss students travelling to the UK after 2020, so you must have private travel insurance with health cover.
Ongoing Medical Issues
If you have any pre-existing medical issues that may require treatment or medicines during your stay, please fix an appointment at your nearest GP 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 ongoing 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 condition, together with enough medication for at least the first month.
Medicines and prescriptions
Pharmacies (also known as 'chemists' in the UK) are also a useful source of information and 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 are several local pharmacies near the University. If your symptoms persist, you should make an appointment to see a doctor. You can also call NHS Direct for help and advice by simply dialling 111 at any time or visiting 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, as well as family planning services. The Centre offers 20-minute drop-in sessions or you can arrange a longer session by telephoning 01483 689498 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
You will be emailed a link to the 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 to download or print off your timetable.