Pre-arrival guide for international students
Useful information to help you prepare to join Aston University
We can’t wait to welcome you to Aston University, named ‘University of the Year’ (Guardian, 2020).
Our support staff and lecturers are getting ready to support you every step of the way - to help you make the most of your time at Aston University.
|Welcome Week||20 September 2021|
|Teaching starts||27 September 2021|
|Second Term||10 January 2022 to 2 April 2022|
|Third Term||25 April 2022 to 11 June 2022|
* Please note that whilst term dates are correct at the time of publication they may be subject to change.
Find information here: aston.ac.uk/about
To begin your course this term you must complete your enrolment online by Monday 27 September at the very latest. (We will email you with instructions on how to complete your enrolment.)
We strongly encourage you to arrive in the UK as soon as possible to begin your studies on campus at the start of term. However, we understand that the ongoing COVID-19 situation may make it difficult for you to arrive in the UK on time. The latest date you can arrive in the UK will depend on your course, so please check carefully.
The nearest airport is Birmingham International airport.
A free shuttle service regularly runs between Birmingham International airport and Birmingham International train station and takes less than 10 minutes.
If you're arriving by plane at another UK airport, you can travel easily from most UK airports to Birmingham by public transport.
If you’re planning on travelling by bus, timetable information is available from Travel West Midlands.
Numerous buses stop at Aston University.
If you’re planning on travelling by coach, timetable information is available from National Express. The nearest coach station is in Digbeth, and it is a 20-minute walk through the city centre to Aston University.
If you’re planning on travelling by train, timetable information is available from National Rail.
The nearest stations are 10-15 minutes away from campus:
• Birmingham New Street
• Snow Hill
• Moor Street
Don’t forget these; otherwise, you won’t even be able to get into the UK! Also, pack copies of your CAS (visa holders) and your financial evidence in case you need to show these at the border. If you are not a UK passport holder, please bring your visa too.
The weather in Birmingham can be unpredictable, even in summer! Bring some layers of lightweight clothing, as days can start off cool and get warmer, and make sure to include a waterproof jacket. The style is generally casual, but bring some smart clothes or your country’s traditional dress for more formal events.
The standard electricity supply in the UK is 230V, and the standard outlet is a 3 pin plug. If you are bringing your laptop and other electrical items to the UK, make sure to pack some adaptor plugs too. Electrical appliances are relatively cheap in the UK, so don’t worry if you don’t have enough room in your bag.
If you’re receiving medical care, speak to your doctor before you leave home to get information to pass onto your new doctor in the UK. If you wear glasses, bring a copy of your prescription in case you need to get new glasses or contact lenses while you are here.
Pack some photos and things that will brighten up your room and remind you of home. Make sure to bring a camera so that you can add photos of all your new friends and experiences!
The UK has a temperate climate. While you can bring lightweight summer and winter wear, you can easily buy windproof jackets in the UK that are cheap and offer superior quality.
Since our campus is located in Birmingham city centre, there is a huge range of clothing shops available to suit every budget.
This will take up lots of space in your luggage and is cheap to buy here – you can even buy items like rice cookers.
The local markets in Birmingham sell many different foods from around the world, so you’re sure to find some home comforts.
You can bring limited amounts of some items like alcohol and cigarettes to the UK. Other items such as fresh food are completely prohibited. Please make sure you do not bring any prohibited items with you.
- Fridges and freezers
- Ovens and hobs
- Kettles or water boilers
- Tables and chairs
- Waste and recycling bins
- A bed and mattress
- Desk and chair
- Desk lighting
If you have an ensuite, you will also have:
- A shower and/or bath
- A mirror
- Crockery and cutlery
- Saucepans and a frying pan
- Kitchen utensils such as a cheese grater and a tin opener
- Tea towels, oven gloves and a dishcloth
- Toilet roll
- Toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A mattress cover, bed linen and pillows
- A laundry basket or bag
- Coat hangers
- Mobile phone charger and laptop charger
- Converter plug (if any of your appliances have non-European plugs)
- Extension cable
- Rice cooker (this is easily purchased in the UK)
- Large items or lots of stuff – storage space is limited so don’t bring large TVs, your own furniture or lots of personal belongings
- Candles, burners and fairy lights –don’t bring anything that could be a fire hazard, e.g. oil burners, a chip pan or portable heaters
- Ashtrays – You cannot smoke in campus accommodation
Short term lets are not as easy to find as long term lets, and you may need to look at areas further from the campus. Please seek advice and start your search early. Alternative off-campus accommodation types:
- Private student halls
- Shared house
- Homestay Landlords
ASH is the official Students’ Union accommodation support service.
Check the website for available rooms by clicking on ‘accommodation search’ or ‘find a flatmate’.
ASH also offers an accommodation contract checking service through the Advice and Representation Centre in the Students’ Union. Once you have found accommodation (especially if it is through a private landlord), we recommend that you contact one of the advisers to check the contract before you sign it – this will help to avoid any issues or disputes after you move in.
Being an international student it’s a good idea to arrive in the UK early so that you can view properties and make arrangements in person. Remember to book some temporary accommodation for when you first arrive in the UK.
You will need to complete online enrolment before arriving at the University. You will be contacted by email with a university username and password, and instructions about how to do this.
You will be invited to book an appointment to come onto campus so your documents can be checked in person in a safe environment. We will be in touch closer to the time of your arrival with more details and will take into account any quarantine periods you need to complete before you can come onto our campus.
- Visa documents, if applicable
- Original qualification documents
Depending on whether you have selected the university or your accommodation as your collection centre, the first thing that you need to do is collect your BRP. Always keep it safe as this is your evidence of immigration permission in the UK.
SIM operators such as Lebara and GiffGaff offer local calling, SMS, international calling, and mobile data bundles packages at a low price. You can top them up from any convenience store or online.
There are various bank branches in the city centre (Barclays, Lloyd, HSBC, Santander) where you can open a student bank account. All you need is a letter from The Hub (Login to map>Student Support Services>Request a Confirmation of Student Service Letter) acknowledging you as a student and your BRP (collected earlier) to open a bank account. Don’t forget to link your new local mobile number with your bank account.
The nearest NHS clinic is in the city centre itself. It is essential to get yourself registered. You will need to fill out some forms available in the Health Centre and a letter of confirmation will be sent to you from NHS by post.
You will need this if you want to work in the UK. Since it takes time to process your National Insurance Number application, it is recommended to book an appointment as early as possible. If you are planning to work part-time, your employer might ask for your NIN.
Find information here: www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
The Chaplaincy offers pastoral and spiritual guidance, prayer, support and friendship to those of all faiths or of none. The team consists of members of different faiths and backgrounds, including Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh chaplains.
The centre brings together services including advice on writing for assignments and research, a maths support centre, programming support and general study skills guidance, covering exam and revision techniques, presentations, working in groups and much more.
We offer mentoring from our current students, from pre-arrival right through your degree programme
Find out more
The Student Reps are empowered to represent your academic interests to the University and the Students’ Union. You can also volunteer to be a Student Rep from the start of the academic year.
Find out more
As an international student at Aston you will be entitled to free English language tuition in individual or small group tutorials. In these sessions you will:
The Students’ Union’s representation centre offers free, confidential advice and representation, independent of the university.
If you plan on watching television while you are in the UK, you will need to purchase a TV licence. This will allow you to watch or record live TV, download or watch programmes on BBC iPlayer. Even if you do not watch programmes on a television but use another device (e.g. a laptop or tablet), you will still need to purchase a TV licence. This also applies to any online TV service you use, such as Now TV, Apple TV, YouTube and Amazon Instant Video.
A standard one-year colour TV licence currently costs £159 and can be purchased from www.tvlicensing.co.uk
There is a whole range of mobile phone providers in the UK offering both pay-as-you-go and pay monthly packages, with or without a handset. Some will also offer special deals to students. The Which? consumer guide can help you to decide which package will be best for you: www.which.co.uk/reviews/mobile-phones. Once you have decided on a package, comparison websites such as MoneySuperMarket (moneysupermarket.com/mobile-phones) and Carphone Warehouse (carphonewarehouse.com) can help you to find the best deal for you or you can look directly on the network providers’ websites.
You may find when buying age-restricted products such as alcohol or tobacco, going to a bar, club or to the cinema, that you are asked to provide proof of your age. Your passport, EU national identity (ID) card or your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) can all be used as proof of this.
The UK and Birmingham are generally safe places to live. There are however, a few precautions you should take as you would in most major cities. Do not display any valuables, keep purses and wallets securely hidden from view and avoid walking down dimly or unlit streets at night. If you can, walk in a group at night time.
If you do need the police or other emergency services, call 999 from any phone (including mobiles). The 999 number is for emergencies only. If you need to speak to the police in a non-emergency situation, you can dial 101 and you will be asked which police force you would like to be connected to (for Birmingham, ask for the West Midlands Police).
We're proud of our Aston University community and how we look after each other. We have never needed each other more than we do today. Help us to help each other by being considerate to others and behaving appropriately at all times. By working together we can all help to make Aston a safe place.
Together we ask that you:
Show consideration towards other students, staff and visitors. Respect those whose personal circumstances differ from yours, and who may need to adopt different safety measures.
Follow guidance on social distancing and health and safety measures, and adhere to signage and instructions around campus to maximise the safety of yourself and others who are sharing space with you.
Show empathy towards others and be supportive to those in need. Offer friendship, be inclusive, and speak out to a member of the Aston team if you think someone needs assistance.