A to Z guide to living in the UK and Southampton


Unless you have already planned and booked your accommodation at the time of starting your studies, we recommend that you have accommodation for the first week of your stay in the UK.

Please note that the Southampton International Boat Show usually takes place mid-September. Southampton is very busy at this time and hotel accommodation is impossible to find unless you have made prior arrangements.

Contact the Southampton Tourist Information Centre: http://www.discoversouthampton.co.uk/visit

Further information on student accommodation can be found at www.solent.ac.uk/accommodation, including alternative accommodation in the private sector.


Banks are usually open 9.30am - 4.30pm daily, and closed at weekends and on public holidays, though some banks are open on a Saturday morning.

Read more about banking, including opening a bank account


If you are considering studying in the UK and you have children, it is possible for them to stay during the duration of your stay in the UK, provided they are under the age of 18 when they first enter the UK.

The Children and Young People's Information Service (CYPIS) give advice and support to parents and will be able to provide you with information regarding local nurseries and pre-schools in the area. Their contact details are:

Email: cypis@southampton.gov.uk
Telephone: 0800 169 8833
Opening hours: 8.30am - 4.30pm

Note for Tier 4 students:
As a Tier 4 student, you will not be able to claim public funds for help towards childcare costs. The UK immigration rules for student state that you must meet the full costs of your course and accommodation and maintain yourself and any family members in the UK without having recourse to public funds. You should therefore make sure you have enough money to cover living costs, course costs and child care costs. Southampton Solent University does not provide any assistance for international students childcare costs and students are expected to have made adequate provision for the cost of childcare when accepting a place on a course.

Further information about childcare can be found at: http://www.youngsouthampton.org/parents-and-carers

Council tax

Council tax is a property-based tax set by local authorities (councils) in England, Scotland and Wales to help pay for services that they provide, such as libraries, the police and the fire brigade. If you live in university halls or a house occupied solely by full-time students, you will be exempt from paying council tax. A council tax exemption certificate can be obtained from your school office once you have enrolled at the University.

Read more on council tax and international students

Disability support   

The University's disability support service aims to remove barriers and enable students to enjoy the full use of all facilities at the University.

Read more on disability support

Driving in the UK    

You must hold a valid driving licence to drive in Great Britain (GB). For further information on the validity of driving licences issued outside Great Britain, please refer to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency website, www.dvla.gov.uk or the UKCISA guidance note 'Driving in England, Scotland and Wales: A Guide for international students'.


The UK has very strict regulations regarding the possession of drugs. The possession of drugs, other than those available from a pharmacist or legally prescribed, is a serious offence and can result in imprisonment or deportation.


British electricity works on 240 volts/50 cycles and most sockets take 13 amp square pin fused plugs. If you are bringing your own electrical equipment with you, make sure they can be safely used on this voltage, otherwise you will require an adaptor.


In case of emergency where an immediate response is required, you should dial '999', the UK's emergency number for the police, fire brigade or ambulance.


Working in the UK
It is recommended that students work no more than 15 hours per week part-time so that their studies are not adversely affected.

Find out more about working in the UK

Employability and Enterprise Service
This service is dedicated to helping you at every stage of your career planning, for advice on job seeking, vacancies, work experience, working abroad and voluntary positions.

Read more about the Employability and Enterprise Service

Working at Southampton Solent University - Jobs dashboard
If you are a student of Southampton Solent University you have the opportunity to earn a minimum of £6.44 per hour working part-time on campus. The variety of jobs on offer is almost endless, from working in the library to helping out in at university open days.

Access our jobs dashboard

National Insurance number and income tax
If you work in the UK, you will need a National Insurance number. However you do not need to have it in order to start working.

For full details on how to apply for a National Insurance number, how much tax you can expect to pay and how to claim tax back, visit the HMRC website

Working after your studies

International students cannot work full-time on a student visa, other than when on an official university holiday. EU students can work but Bulgarian and Romanian students are restricted and must seek authorisation from the Home Office. There are a number of schemes which allow international students to stay on and work after their studies.

Read more about working in the UK


If you are applying to bring your spouse or children with you as dependants, the immigration authorities will normally give them permission to remain in the UK in line with your leave entitlement.

You should think carefully before deciding to bring your family with you to the UK. There are factors you will want to discuss such as immigration, employment, childcare, schooling, finance and accommodation.

Read more about bringing your family to the UK


Living in the UK can be more costly than living in your country. Therefore it is essential that you work out a budget when planning to come and study in the UK.

UKCISA and UNIAID have teamed up to create an online tool to help international students plan and budget their finance to study in the UK. Why not have a go at using the international student calculator

It is very difficult to estimate an individual's living costs as we all have different lifestyle requirements and spending habits.

Read more about living costs

Firearms and weapons

It is illegal to carry firearms in the UK and strict regulations apply to the importation and ownership of any weapon. It is also illegal to carry offensive weapons such as knives in the street.


Eating on campus
The University's main restaurant 'The Dock' provides a variety of food at reasonable prices. There are also other places scattered across the campus providing food and drinks.

Eating off campus
Southampton offers a large variety of restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways to suit all tastes.

Find out more about eating out


All Southampton Solent University students whose course lasts for six months or longer are entitled to full health care under the National Health Service (NHS).

Read more about healthcare


Medical/health insurance
Students coming to the UK for a course of six months or more are entitled to receive full health care provided by the National Health Service (NHS) on the same basis as other UK residents from the day of their arrival in the UK. You should be aware that charges are made under the NHS for medicines, eye care and dental treatment.

Personal possessions insurance
You are strongly advised to insure your personal belongings against theft, loss and damage before coming to the UK. Many companies specialise in low cost insurance for students. Endsleigh Insurance Company, recommended by the National Union of Students (NUS), has a policy designed for international students studying in the UK. For information on policies and insurance costs, visit the website www.endsleigh.co.uk - we strongly advise you to shop around for the most competitive quote.


Job-hunting in a recession is challenging, to remain competitive you will need to be flexible, determined and resilient.

Read more about finding work


To help you get to and around the campus, we've provided a range of links to zoomable maps and Adobe Acrobat (PDF) maps. You can also find us on Google Maps.

Read more about finding your way around

Police registration     

Students (except those from Commonwealth or EEA countries, USA and Japan) who intend to stay in the UK longer than six months are required to register with the police upon arrival. Book your place during the international welcome week or make your own way to the police headquarters to register your details. Information and directions are available from the international advice team.

Read more about police registration


Regardless of your faith, the University's multi-faith centre provides support to students in an inclusive and non-judgemental environment.

Read more about the multi-faith centre 


Choose a freight company that has a good reputation, ask friends, the international adviser or consult the British Association of Removers for recommendations. Firstly, obtain quotations for the cost of sending goods before deciding on a particular freight company. Check if the price includes insurance to cover any loss or breakages. The freight company will usually need three days' notice to deliver your empty export boxes and three days' notice to collect the full cases when packed ready to ship. You will need to label the freight with your full name, address and telephone number in your home country on each box, and you also need to number the boxes.

For information on shipping boxes, visit www.voovit.com - we strongly advise you to shop around for the most competitive quote.

Whether you live in halls of residence or in private accommodation, remember that your contract is usually for a 40 weeks period. It is therefore important to find out where you will store your possessions during the summer holiday if you are coming back to study the following academic year. The accommodation office does not provide any storage facility. If you are renting in the private sector, you will need to discuss your options with your landlords should you decide to stay in the same place. Otherwise, you may need to consider a storage company.

Shop opening hours     

Most shops are open between 9am-5.30pm, Monday-Saturday, until 9pm on Thursdays for 'late-night' shopping, and some are open on Sundays between 10am-4pm.

Supermarkets are usually open until 8pm but some stores are open 24 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Information on local supermarkets will be available during the induction programme.

'C-Store' newsagent is located on-campus and sells a range of soft drinks, confectionery, newspapers and magazines. The Students' Union also has a shop offering a range of confectionery, greetings cards, stationery, art materials and food and drink.

Telephone information

The largest telephone company in the UK is British Telecom (BT). Public BT payphones accept coins to the value of £2, £1, 50p and 20p. Some payphones accept pre-paid phonecards as well as coins; these vary in value and can be bought at post offices and shops displaying a phonecard sign. International calls can be made from all payphones; you will need at least £1 to make an international direct dialled call. A number of companies offer international calls at cheaper rates than those operated by BT so it is advisable to shop around for the best deal. It is cheaper to make telephone calls between the hours of 6pm-8am, Monday to Friday, or all day Saturday and Sunday. A number of payphones can be found in each of the halls of residence and across the campus, alternatively you may wish to buy a mobile phone. 

Mobile phones
There are four main mobile/cellular networks in the UK: Orange, O2, Vodafone and T-Mobile. They are available on a contract or 'pay-as-you-go' basis and there are hundreds of different tariffs. It is advisable to shop around in order to get the best deal and find the appropriate phone and tariff for your needs.

If you need to use your mobile or a landline phone to call home, compare rates with www.cheapestinternationalcalls.com. A website which compares all the latest rates and provides you with an access number which you key in before the telephone number. Just follow the instructions on the website and save money.

To help you find the best broadband, TV and phone packages, you can use price comparison websites such as www.cable.co.uk (accredited by Ofcom). In addition to providing you with a comparison service, it also offers guides for the following:

How to save money when calling abroad from the UK
How to make cheap international calls
How to choose the best student broadband

Please note that we cannot be held responsible for the content of the above websites.

Television licence         

If you are living in a student residence or alone and you own a TV or other device to receive and record TV programmes, you are required by law to hold a valid TV licence. 

Shared house
If you live in a shared house, a separate tenancy agreement (contract) would normally mean your room is classified as a separately occupied place. If you have a television in your room, you will need your own TV licence.

If your house is classed as one place shared by all tenants, you will only need one TV licence for the property. A joint tenancy agreement (contract) would normally indicate that there is only one separately occupied place.

The charge for the TV licence is £145.50 for a colour licence. You will need to renew your licence every year. It is a criminal offence to watch TV without a licence and could lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

For more information on TV licences visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk


Southampton Solent University is located in the heart of the city which makes it an ideal place to live in. For that reason, you may not need to use public transport very often while studying with us. However, if you do, there are two main bus companies in Southampton: Bluestar and First.

If you decide to visit places outside of Southampton, you can either use the South West trains or the National Express coach.


You can obtain rail and coach cards from the local ticket offices.

These cards enable you to save between 20% and 30% on many normal adult fares, but check conditions before purchasing.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
This can be purchased locally for £9. This card enables you to obtain reduced fares plus a variety of student discounts when you travel abroad.

You will need passport-sized photographs when purchasing any of these.


The British weather is changeable and the winter months can be very cold, whilst the temperature can vary considerably within one day. In September, Southampton has a temperature variation of between 9ºC and 22ºC. It is advisable to bring warm, waterproof clothing with you as many students find the climate very cold, although warm clothing can be purchased from a wide selection of stores. The coldest months of the year are usually January and February with an average temperature of 4ºC; July and August are usually the warmest months with an average temperature of 18ºC.

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