Living and studying in the UK

This section covers some of the main topics that students ask about when they arrive on campus - such as what’s needed to open a bank account and how to register with a doctor. There’s also information about the support you can get at DMU with study skills and how to develop your English language for academic success.

  1. Healthcare

    Paying for UK healthcare as part of a student visa application

    As part of the process of applying for a Student Visa you'll need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, so that you can access the services provided in the UK by the National Health Service (NHS). You can calculate how much you'll need to pay by using the Home Office Immigration Health Surcharge tool.

    You can find out more about the Immigration Health Surcharge from Home Office and from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

    If you're coming to the UK on short-term student visa, then you won't be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge but you will need to ensure that you arrange health insurance for the duration of your UK visit (see the section below).

    National Health Service (NHS)

    The NHS is the system of public healthcare in the UK. You can find detailed information about how the NHS works from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), including information about Accident and Emergency (A&E), prescriptions and hospital appointments.

    Comprehensive information is also available on the NHS website.

    Please note that, even if you are able to use access free NHS services, you will still need to pay for certain services, such as dental treatment, eye tests and prescriptions.

    Register with a doctor

    Once you’ve registered onto your course, it’s important to register with a doctor so that you can access medical care during your studies. The doctors working in health centres are frequently referred to as GPs (General Practitioners). You can find details of the GP service nearest to your accommodation using this tool from the National Health Service (NHS).

    De Montfort Surgery is on the university campus and provides healthcare for local students and residents. If you live within it’s catchment area you can register online.

    EU and EEA (European Economic Area) nationals

    The UK has now left the European Union. For EU/EEA and Swiss students in the UK before 31st December 2020, information is available from the website of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

    Do I need health insurance?

    If you are not entitled to free NHS treatment, you should ensure that you have adequate medical insurance to cover medical costs if you fall ill. These might include:

    • Lost fees if you are unable to complete your course
    • Cost of returning home if a relative is ill
    • Cost of a relative visiting you in the UK if you fall ill
    • Cost of returning to your home country for treatment.

    Even if you are entitled to free NHS treatment while in the UK, you may want to consider taking out insurance that covers the above additional costs. In some circumstances you might find that you need to access private healthcare, which can be expensive.

    If you already have medical insurance in your home country, check whether you can extend it to cover your stay in the UK. You could also look at options available from UK insurers.

  2. Bank accounts and living costs

    Opening a bank account

    As a new international student, you'll probably want to open a bank account once you arrive at DMU. You will probably need to transfer money from your home country and this is much easier if you have a UK bank account. You will also find it more convenient when paying your tuition fees.

    Please note that you will usually need to have registered onto your course before a bank will allow you to open an account.

    Money for your first few weeks

    It may take a few weeks to open your bank account and so it's important that you bring sufficient funds with you when you first arrive at DMU. We suggest having access to at least £1,000 when you first arrive.

    What kind of bank account can I open?

    As an international student you should be able to open a basic bank account, which usually offers internet banking and a combined cashpoint (ATM) and Debit card. Some bank accounts are free to operate, whilst others carry a monthly charge – though you may find that the accounts that appear to be free may charge for other services! We recommend that you shop around online to see which account is right for you.

    Most banks require you to apply online to open your account - though you may also need visit the bank in-person later as part of the application process. Banks offering accounts to international students include Natwest, Santander, Barclays, Lloyds, TSB and HSBC. We suggest checking banks' websites for up-to-date information.

    What do I need to open a bank account?

    Banks have a duty under UK law to prevent accounts being opened under false identities. For this reason, the banks will ask anyone who wants to open an account to provide documents to prove their identity. If you're opening an account online you may need to upload the necessary documents as part of your application.

    The documents that you will be asked to provide will depend on the bank you are using. Generally you are likely to be asked for the following:

    • Proof of identity – usually this will be your passport with your student visa, or if you are an EU student, an EU/EEA identification card
    • Proof of address – usually this will be a DMU bank letter. Please note that you will only be able to access this letter once you have registered onto your course. You can print this letter yourself using the My Documents tile on the MyDMU web portal and app

    Online-only accounts

    Other possibilities for managing your money might include app-based online banks such as Monzo or Revolut. These can be quicker and easier to set up, though might not offer the same services as a traditional bank account.

    The university does not recommend any particular account or bank. Please make sure the account or app that you use is suitable for your needs and that you're aware of any payments or charges that might apply.

    Additional advice and guidance

    Guidance for international students is available from the British Bankers Association as well as advice from the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

    The DMU Money Advice team also offer advice and guidance on budgeting and managing your money.

    How much money will I need?

    Getting used to a new currency and the cost of living in a new country can seem complicated at first, but it is important that you work out your income and a budget for your expenditure before you come to the UK.

    If you are coming to the UK on a Student Visa, as part of your visa application you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds in place to pay both your course fees and your living costs. The Home Office call this Financial Requirements.

    Monthly budget

    The British Council suggest that a student can expect to pay between £900 and £1,300 each month to cover the cost of accommodation, bills, food shopping and other expenses whilst living in the UK - although the exact amount will of course vary depending on your own lifestyle. This estimate does not include travel to and from your home country, or your fees.

    How much money should I bring when I first arrive?

    You will usually need to have registered on your course before you can open a bank account and it might take a few weeks before this is ready. So it's important to bring enough money with you for the your first few weeks in the UK.

    The amount of money you will need to bring may depend on whether or not you have already paid for your accommodation. If you've already paid for your accommodation, we recommend having access to at least £1,000, to cover food and other initial expenses. If you have not yet paid for your accommodation, then you may need to have access to more money when you arrive.

    Important: We don't recommend bringing large amounts of cash with you. Instead, we recommend that you bring money in a secure form, such as a pre-paid credit card. Alternatively, try to open an account with a multi-national bank in your home country before you leave the UK, and check with the bank that you will be able to use ATMs (cashpoints) in the UK. It's also a good idea to check how much money you will be charged each time you use the card.

    Help and advice about money

    Once at DMU, you may find that you have to organise your money carefully and you might want further guidance on financial issues. DMU Money Advice can advise students on money management, budgeting and on fee payment issues.

    The organisation Which? provide advice on saving money and budgeting, including suggested apps to help you manage your money.

  3. Learning and studying in the UK

    You may find that it takes some time for you to adjust to studying in the UK; academic culture and methods of teaching and learning may be different from what you have been used to. Don't worry - there's plenty of support and assistance to help you with this.

    Before you arrive

    Prepare for Success is an interactive web learning tool for international students who are getting ready to come to the UK to study. It contains activity-based learning resources, to help you find out about different aspects of academic life in the UK and the skills needed for effective study.

    Centre for Learning and Study Support

    Once you're arrived at DMU, the Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS) provides a range of support to help you develop your academic, writing and professional skills and offer guidance on areas such as self-directed learning, critical thinking, participating in seminars and how to reference sources in your assignments.

    CLaSS also provide a Proof Reading for Grammar Toolkit, which is resource for students looking to identify and correct grammatical errors in their assignments.

    English learning support

    The Centre for English Language Learning (CELL) run English for Academic Success, a free English language support programme for undergraduate and postgraduate students. English for Academic Success is taught online and includes group discussions to help boost your confidence in speaking English. The course also covers academic topics such as referencing, summarising, paragraph structure and giving presentations.

    Maths Learning Centre

    MLC provide online tutorials, drop-in sessions and a range of other resources to help with maths and statistics.

    Other online resources

    The UK Council for International Students (UKCISA) also provide guidance on UK academic culture, and on making the most of your lectures, seminars and reading.

  4. Social life and wellbeing

    Although you've come to DMU to study, it's important to find time to rest, relax and make friends too. You'll find details below of some of the activities that take place on campus - you might find something here that interests you, or alternatively make an appointment for a chat with us through MyGateway.


    The HealthyDMU Hub provides quick access to a range of activities and opportunities to meet people and get involved. You can also book onto Masterclasses to help you achieve your potential – covering topics like performance under pressure, and personal productivity.

    Hub Social

    This informal drop-in social event takes place in The Breathing Space (in the Portland Building) and usually runs monthly during term-time. Hub Social features games, activities and refreshments and the chance to meet and chat with other international students and the International Student Support team. We’ll email students each month with all the details.

    Explore UK

    The Explore UK programme runs a different trip each month during term time to a range of towns, cities and cultural locations throughout Great Britain. Some of our previous trips have included Oxford, Scotland, Liverpool, York, Stonehenge, Wales and Windsor Castle. We try to introduce new destinations every year - it's a great way to see the country and to make new friends at the same time.

    Student societies

    With over 80 different societies at DMU, there's something for all tastes and cultures. The Students' Union can give you more information about this, and if there's something you are interested in that's not represented – they can advise you on how to start up your own society!


    Volunteering can be a good way to get involved in the local community, meet new people and practice your English, as well as gaining new skills and maybe increasing your confidence.

    The Students' Union Volunteering team have access to hundreds of unique and exciting volunteering opportunities, including working for local TV and radio, helping to organise Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival and designing murals for school playgrounds across the city.

    Or you might be interested in volunteering through DMU Local, which links DMU students and staff to more than 100 projects every year.

    De Montfort Students' Union activities

    A programme of events and activities run by the Students' Union - including a changing calendar of social activities during term-time, including film screenings, city walks and bingo evenings.

    Sports and leisure

    The DMUactive programme provides a weekly timetable of free sport and physical activity sessions, to help students stay physically active, look after their wellbeing, make friends and develop new skills.

    DMU's QEII Leisure Centre provides state-of-the-start facilities including a 25 metre lane swimming pool, sauna, climbing wall, sports hall, gym and weights area and a dance studio.

    If you're interested in taking up a competitive sport while you are at DMU, the Students’ Union runs over 20 different sports clubs including football, rugby and cricket, as well as Aikido and rowing.

  5. Staying safe

    Staying safe

    Living in a new country can sometimes seem unsettling at first. Following some simple advice and taking a few basic precautions can make a real difference in keeping you, your accommodation and your belongings safe and secure.

    An online booklet, Safety First is published by the British Council and features comprehensive information on safety and security, including:

    • The police in the UK
    • Looking after your belongings
    • Safety on the streets
    • Frauds and scams
    • Laws in the UK

    DMU Security

    DMU Security team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Security control room is located on campus and as well as running campus patrols, Security operate a comprehensive CCTV system around campus. If you have any questions or concerns about your safety, you can contact Security at any time. We also recommend storing the Security number in your mobile.

    DMU Security (Estates Services Building): 0116 257 7642

    DMU Security also provide advice and guidance on personal safety and how to look after yourself and your possessions.

    Arrange personal insurance

    Although Leicester is a safe place for most students, as in any town or city crime can sometimes happen. We strongly recommend that you insure valuables and personal possessions, such as laptops, tablets and phones which may be expensive to replace. A number of UK insurers offer policies for international students, including Endsleigh - which is recommended by the National Union of Students (NUS).

  6. Other resources