Thursday, 19 January 2017

Five money tips every international student should know

Studying for a qualification in the UK could be the start of a fantastic adventure, but there are a few things you need to sort out first. Here are five financial tips to help you make the most of your studies.

1. Set up a bank account
Setting up a UK bank account gives you more security and control over your money. You can still spend it when you like, and
it’s much safer than keeping it in your pocket or hidden under your mattress.

When you open a bank account, you’ll need to show the bank or building society two types of identification:

your passport
proof of your address in the UK

Depending on the bank or building society you choose, the proof of address you need could differ – so ask before you apply.

2. Make a budget
Don’t spend all your money in one go; plan how much you can afford to spend each month and stick to it.

Your rent and bills should be your top priority, so always have the money in your account to cover these each month before you pay your other bills. Here is a checklist of the expenses you might face as a student.

If you create a budget, you know how much to set aside each month to cover your essential outgoings, and you’ll know how much you can spend on everything else.

If you have applied for student finance support, then work your budget around that. You can learn more about the types of student finance available to international students.

3. Look out for deals and bargains
Try to avoid buying your weekly shopping from small independent shops, as they often charge more for day-to-day items like milk, bread and toiletries.

Supermarkets often advertise deals throughout the year, like half-price washing powder, or buy one get one free on a pack of toilet roll.

If you know you’ll need these things throughout the month or year, you could save money by buying them when they’re on offer.

Most supermarkets also reduce some food at the end of each day. This could include meats, cheese, or any food that is due to go out of date on that day.

This happens because supermarkets need to get rid of the stock before the day ends for food regulation reasons, although the food is still safe to be eaten the same day.

4. Shop online to save money
Even if you don’t have the internet set up at your address, you can use the university internet to grab yourself a bargain on most household items.

You could save money by buying things like toiletries and cleaning supplies online, just watch out for any delivery charges.

5. Shop around for books
You will be asked by your university to buy books from a reading list to help support your studies.

These books can be expensive, especially when you have to buy several of them at once.

Most universities re-use their reading lists, which means that previous students might be selling the books you need.

To help you find a reduced copy of the books you need, try looking in second hand shops, or online at retailers like Amazon or eBay.


Thursday, 22 December 2016

How to look after your finances as a postgraduate

Taking on a postgraduate course is a big commitment, for both your time and your bank balance. But being smart with your money can make life much easier.

How much will it cost?
Not all postgrad courses cost the same, but the average is between £16,000 and £23,000 a year. How much it costs depends on:
which course you choose
where you study
whether your course is full time or part time
how much you spend on rent, bills, and entertainment

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas tend to be the cheapest, while master’s degrees and PhDs are the most expensive. Think about your reasons for studying and try to pick a route that won't leave you out of pocket.

Decide how you're going to study
If you dream about a care free student life, where you go out every night and wake up at midday, then think again. Be prepared to work hard and save.

You can normally choose between studying full-time, part-time or distance learning. A full-time course could be cheaper, but limits how much free time you have.

A part-time course lets you mix your home life with your studies, and you can continue earning by working while you study. However, you'll miss out on uni life and may end up paying more because your course will last longer.

Pick your course wisely
Postgrad courses can cost anything from £4,999 to £30,000 a year, so make sure you know what you're signing up for. Check tuition fees before you apply for courses and make sure they're within your budget.

Check to see if your old uni offers discounts for former students wanting to come back to study. Also, look for universities near home, as this could cut down on your living costs.

Avoid choosing a uni-based on its reputation without researching it properly first. Lots of leader boards are only based on undergrad studies, and may not offer what you want from a postgrad course.

What help can you get?
There’s a new government backed postgraduate loan that offers up to £10,000 to help students cover their tuition fees and living costs. They’re available to most students starting their course after August 2016.

This new loan gets paid straight into your bank account and you can use it for anything, not just your tuition fees. This gives you more flexibility, but make sure you spend it wisely. Most universities ask you to pay fees up front, so having the cash in your account could save you from having to put it on a credit card.

Part-time and distance learners can get the loan, but only if your course is less than four years, and you'll only get paid for the first two.

Some universities also offer scholarships, so check if you're eligible when you apply. Charities and trusts also offer grants and funding, so research what you can get and apply if you're eligible.

Set a budget
You'll need to start saving as soon as you've decided you want to do a postgrad course, especially if you're going to study full-time. You might get the government loan, but it's unlikely to cover everything you need.

If you're studying full-time, use this ultimate student budget planner to work out your budget for the year. Once you get your timetable, see if you'll have time to get a part-time job. Having a regular income will come in handy when funds start to run low.

If you study part-time, you may be able to continue your career although you might need to cut your hours. Start saving before you begin your course, so you have some money to fall back on if you can't work full-time.

Make sure you've got your money sorted
Full-time students can often get the same student current accounts as undergrads. They come with a range of benefits, like fee free overdrafts and other perks.

If you’re a part-time student, you’ll probably have to make do with a normal current account. Compare accounts and try to find one with an interest free overdraft, if you think staying out of the red will be an issue.

Avoid relying on credit cards if possible, but shop around to find one that's right for you if you need one as a safety net. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay at least the minimum monthly repayments, don’t get one.

Things to check:

Interest rates
Added extras
Credit limits
Top money saving tips for postgrads

Spend wisely – books can be expensive, so buy second hand where you can. Get a student rail card or coach card, to save on the cost of travelling. And cook at home rather than going out for food.

Save on your food shop – shop in the evenings or early hours of the morning, and get food that's been reduced for a quick sale. Bulk buying with your housemates can also be cheaper than buying for one, and you'll probably waste less food.

Shop around for utilities – don't just go with the provider that your landlord is using when you move in. Compare broadband and energy deals, to make sure you save money.

Check for student savings – you can get discounts on everything from your council tax to your weekly shop. Get an NUS card and you can save money on eating out, TV subscriptions, gym memberships and in loads of high street stores.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Get to know the university you could be studying at

Now you’ve accepted a conditional offer, it’s a good idea to get to know your prospective university better, and see where you could be studying in the not-too-distant future. Getting to know the place now will help you to feel more at home if you start studying there, as you’ll already be familiar with the place and the people.

Now’s the perfect time to head to an open day at the uni you could be studying at, even if you have already been to one. Open days are a great way to explore the facilities, see where you could be living, and talk to current staff and students.

Can’t get to an open day? Take a look at our list of virtual tours to see what the university is like from the comfort of your own home.

Get to know your chosen university or college by following them on social media – keep up-to-date with what’s happening on campus, ask questions, and see what uni life is like!

If you’ve got any questions about your application, check out our info on or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Making the most of your time now you’ve accepted an offer

The wait to find out if you’ve met the conditions of your offer can seem like it goes on forever. To take your mind off it, here are three things you can be doing right now.

1. Check your status in Track – find out what it means and what you should do next. It may change over the coming months, so make sure you know what each status means and what you need to do.

2. Familiarise yourself with Clearing and Adjustment – if you’re waiting for results, they may be better than expected, or they might not be quite what you were hoping for. Clearing and Adjustment are our services to help you find another place in either circumstance – understanding how they work now will make the process much smoother if you need it on results day.

3. Sort out finance – you’ll need somewhere to live and money to pay for it! We don’t arrange student finance, but we do explain the process and point you in the right direction to apply for student loans.

If you’ve got any questions about your application, check out our info on or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Christmas opening hours

Everyone needs a break now and again, so we’ll be closed for a short time over the holiday period too. If you need to contact us over the festive period, take a look at our opening hours.

We’ve got plenty of advice on our website, so if you have a question while we’re closed check out our frequently asked questions, or all the advice we have on our video wall.

Merry Christmas from everyone at UCAS! 

Send us a question at any point over the festive period on Facebook or Twitter and our advisers will respond during the opening times shown above.