Unless you've 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. You can find more information about events happening in the city, as well as hotel accommodation at the Southampton Tourist Information Centre: http://www.discoversouthampton.co.uk/visit
Further information on student accommodation can be found in our accommodation section, which also includes accommodation in the private sector.
'Right to Rent' Act implemented
Since February 2016, international students who do not live in halls of residence or in purpose-built student accommodation have to prove their immigration status to their landlord to show that they have the 'right to rent'.
Find out more about the right to rent act, and what this means
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 fire brigade. If you live in university halls or a house occupied solely by full-time students, you'll be exempt from paying council tax. You can get a council tax exemption certificate from your school office once you have enrolled at the University.
Read more about council tax and international students
Banks are usually open 9.30am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and some may open on a Saturday morning. They shut on public holidays.
The major UK banks with branches in Southampton are:
If you're 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:
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 students 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
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 about our 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 (DVLA) website or the UKCISA guidance on driving in England, Scotland and Wales.
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're 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, dial '999', the UK's emergency number for the police, fire brigade or ambulance.
Working during your studies
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, and offers 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
If you're a student at 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, and offers opportunities from working in the library to helping out at university open days, or at graduation ceremonies. All campus job opportunities are listed on our jobs dashboard.
National Insurance number and income tax
If you work in the UK, you'll need a National Insurance number. However you do not need to have one 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're 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 important factors you will need to consider, such as immigration, employment, childcare, schooling, finance and accommodation.
See our visas and immigration page for more information about bringing your family to the UK
Living in the UK can be more costly than living in your country. Therefore it's essential that you work out a budget when planning to come and study in the UK. It's very difficult to estimate an individual's living costs as we all have different lifestyle requirements and spending habits.
UKCISA and Brightside 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.
Read more about living costs
Firearms and weapons
It's illegal to carry firearms in the UK and strict regulations apply to the importation and ownership of any weapon. It's also illegal to carry offensive weapons, such as knives, in the street.
If you are from within the EU/EEA, you should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as evidence that you are entitled to reciprocal healthcare provided by the NHS whilst studying in the UK. The EHIC will only cover you if it has been issued by the authorities in your country of residence, before you travel to the UK. Please note that you will still be liable for charges made under the NHS for medicines (prescriptions), eye care and dental treatment.
Read more about the EHIC
Non EU/EEA nationals
If you are from outside the EU/EEA and your course lasts for more than six months you are entitled to full healthcare under the NHS from the beginning of your stay, as long as you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your Tier 4 visa application.
If your course lasts less than six months, you should take out private healthcare insurance (unless you are a national of a country that has a reciprocal health agreement with the UK).
Registering with a doctor
When you have enrolled at the University you will need to register with a doctor. Most students, if living in halls, choose to register with St Mary's Surgery. If you are in private accommodation, a list of other doctors willing to register students is available from the Student Hub.
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're 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 Endsleigh website. We do strongly advise you to shop around for the most competitive quote.
To help you get to and around the campus, we have a number of links to zoomable maps and Adobe Acrobat (PDF) maps. You can also find us on Google Maps.
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, your 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 boxes when packed and ready to ship. You'll 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 Voovit. We do 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-week period. It's therefore important to find out where you'll 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're 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 and 5.30pm, Monday-Saturday, and until 9pm on Thursdays for 'late-night' shopping. Some are open on Sundays between 10am and 4pm.
Supermarkets are usually open until 8pm but some larger stores are open 24 hours from Monday to Friday. Information on local supermarkets will be available during the induction programme.
The University's on-campus newsagent, C-Store, 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.
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'll 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's advisable to shop around for the best deal. It's cheaper to make telephone calls between the hours of 6pm and 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.
The main mobile/cellular networks in the UK are: O2, Vodafone and EE (which includes Orange 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 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, there are many comparison websites which can provide you will the most up-to-date information on the cheapest international call plans.
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:
(Please note that we cannot be held responsible for the content of external websites.)
If you're 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.
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.
Transport and travel
Southampton Solent University is located in the heart of the city which makes it an ideal place to live. 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 South West Trains or National Express coaches.
You can buy rail and coach cards from local ticket offices.
These cards can enable you to save between 20% and 30% on many normal adult fares, but check conditions before purchasing.
International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
The International Student Identity Card 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. The temperature can also vary considerably within one day. In September, Southampton has a temperature variation of between 9ºC and 22ºC. It's 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.
Visiting other countries
Whilst studying in Southampton many students wish to travel to other countries for recreational or study-related trips.
You should check with the embassy/consulate of the country you wish to visit whether someone of your nationality requires a visa to travel there.
You may experience difficulties obtaining a visa if you apply to travel towards the end of your studies in the UK. Many European embassies/consulates expect students to have between two and six months' leave to remain in the UK beyond the term of their proposed trip. Therefore, it's advisable for you to travel during the holidays (such as Christmas, Easter) before the end of your course.
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