Next month i'm attending 2 pre-departure briefings for students going to the UK. One is organized by the British Council and the other is organized by the university itself. It is a good idea to attend these briefings as you get good advice from the representatives as well as the opportunity to ask all your burning questions on what to expect and what to prepare before going. Furthermore you get to know other Malaysians who are going there too & expand your network of friends :-) Below is some guidelines from MABECS. Looking at the check list so far, preparation-wise alhamdulilah i think i'm on the right track :D
Pre-Departure Check list
- Have you met all conditions of your university offer?
- Have you applied for Accommodation?
- Has the university issued you with a CAS number?
- Have you checked that all details in your CAS statement are correct?
- Have you got all your original education certificates (which were indicated in your CAS as having been used to assess your university application and which need to be submitted with your visa application)?
- Have you met the tuition fee and maintenance fund requirements for your visa application?
- Have you made your visa application?
- Have you made your flight bookings?
- (If you are going through a travel agent, ask if they can also issue you with an ISIC-International Student Identity Card, which may provide discounts when traveling in different countries.)
- Have you received confirmation from the university about your accommodation?
- Have you received information from the university on registration procedures, pre-departure briefings, welcome and orientation programmes, meet and greet services ,etc and have you read this and responded, if action is required?
- Have you obtained your chest x-ray and medical report?
Note: Students do not need a chest x-ray and medical report when applying for their visa in Malaysia. However it is a good idea to voluntarily obtain a chest x-ray and general medical report before you leave for the UK and carry this with you in your hand luggage when you travel to the UK.
Sometimes, at random, you may be asked to produce this when you arrive in the UK. For most students there are no specifications as to the kind of medical report to do- so you can decide and advise your doctor here in Malaysia, as to the tests/checks you wish to do.
It’s also advisable to get appropriate vaccinations/inoculations before you leave for the UK (if you haven’t had these vaccinations already), for example, for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis and to take your immunization records with you.
It is also advisable to have the meningitis C or meningitis A+C vaccination before you leave for the UK. If you are unable to arrange for this before you leave for the UK, you can ask for this when you register with a doctor in the UK (please refer to the section in these notes titled Important Things to Do When You Arrive in the UK).
For some students, for example students pursuing medicine, dentistry, etc, your medical/dental school may have certain specifications with regard the kind of medical tests and/or vaccinations you need to take (for e,g, Hepatitis B immunization). In such cases, please follow guidelines given by your department.
Important Things To Take with you to the UK
- Valid passport (with UK student visa) (It would be useful to make a few photocopies of your passport and student visa)
- Original education certificates
- Details of your university and accommodation offer
- Flight tickets and details of any bookings you have made for coach collection services, trains journeys, orientation programme, etc.
- Evidence to prove you have sufficient funds to pay your course fees and maintain yourself (and any dependents if applicable). For example, bank drafts, letter from bank, recent bank statements, letter from sponsor, etc.
- Credit cards, travellers cheques, some cash (do not carry large amounts of cash)
- Any prescription medication that you are taking
- Chest x-ray and medical report
Carry all these documents with you in your hand luggage (not checked in baggage) to keep them safe and allow you to have easy access to them when travelling and on arrival at the UK airport. You will be asked to produce some of the documents indicated above at the Immigration section, of a UK airport. You will clear Immigration first, before you collect your baggage.
Students in the UK tend to live in a pair of jeans, teeshirt, sweatshirt and trainers. This is “standard” student wear. Sport socks are nice and thick and would be ideal to take to the UK. Winter clothing, gloves and scarves are often cheaper to buy in the UK than they are in Malaysia. Make sure you take some warm clothing with you initially.Formal wear may be required for presentations or dinners. Do also take your traditional costume/dress, as there will be occasions for you to wear this while at university.
It is unlikely you will do any shopping immediately when you arrive in the UK. Take a toothbrush, and small quantities of toothpaste, soap and shampoo to freshen up (please note however that there are security restrictions with regard the amount of liquid you can carry in your hand luggage, when you board an aircraft).
Important Things to Do When You Arrive in the UK
*Call/Text Home to let your family know you have arrived safelyTo call Malaysia from the UK, the code is (for example):
00 603 79567655 (if calling a land line)
006012 xxxxxxx (if calling a mobile number)
* Complete any remaining registration formalities and attend any orientation/welcome events organised by the university and/or department
It’s important to complete any remaining registration formalities so that you are officially registered with the university- failure to register within the stipulated time may mean that the university has to report your absence to the UK Border Agency.
Orientation and Welcome activities provide you with an introduction to the university, the city, the department, as well as members of staff and other students. They also provide important information and support to help you settle down.
*Register with a Doctor
Health care consultation and hospitalisation is free for students who are enrolled onto courses for longer than six months, under the UK National Health Service (NHS). You may have to pay a standard fee for any prescribed medication. You will need to register with a doctor, soon after you arrive, to be covered under the NHS. The university will be able provide you with a list of doctors in the area. Alternatively you will be able to search for one at
Some clinics/surgeries may already have too many patients and may not be able to take on any more. If you are unable to register with a particular clinic/surgery, ask them to recommend another clinic nearby or try another clinic on the list.
The charges for optical and dental treatment under the UK National Health Service can be quite high compared to costs in Malaysia, so try and visit the dentist or optician before you leave for the UK and when you are back home on holiday.
When you have time you might like to take advantage of your student status and travel cheaply in Europe, but then UK healthcare would not cover your travels and you should take out holiday travel insurance and also insurance to cover your possessions.
*Open a Bank Account
The university will be able to provide you with information on suitable banks and the services that each offers and the documents that will be required to open a bank account. This information is also covered during the orientation programme, etc.
It is quite likely that one of the big nationwide banks will have facilities on the university campus. It may take a few days (sometimes a few weeks) for your bank draft to clear. Your credit cards, travellers cheques and/or some cash should tide you over this period.
Alternatively you could consider opening an account in an international bank in Malaysia and this may allow you to then make arrangements to open a bank account in the UK (for e.g. HSCB Premier Account).
When opening a bank account in the UK, certain documents may be required from you. This varies from bank to bank but examples of documents that you may need to have at hand, when opening a bank account, include valid passport and student visa, document confirming your address in the UK (for e.g. your accommodation/tenancy agreement), document confirming your address in Malaysia (for e.g. any letter from the university, sent to your address in Malaysia), etc
The experience of opening a student bank account in the UK does vary and sometimes it can be quite time consuming- having to stand in queues and having to make more than one visit, in order for all the formalities to be completed. Every university provides a welcome guide to international students, often available on the university web site. Try and do some advance research based on the information there, with regard the various bank accounts available, procedures for opening a bank account, etc.
*Use the Support Services at the University
It is normal to feel homesick and miss your family and friends. Some students may also experience “culture shock” as you are faced with an environment and culture that’s different to what you’re used to. Keep an open mind, give yourself time and you will slowly find yourself settling down and starting to enjoy life as a university student in the UK- many students look back at these years, as the best years of their life!
All universities in the UK, will have support services to assist you with any matter- academic, accommodation, immigration, health, personal issues, religious matters, etc. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help, information and support. All matters will be dealt with in confidence.
Your university has reporting and record-keeping duties and needs to inform the UK Border Agency (UKBA) if for example, you do not register on time, miss lectures without permission, etc. Please attend lectures.
Study very hard but have fun too! Take the opportunity to make friends from all over the world, travel in the UK and Europe during your holidays, join clubs and societies and make the most of your time at university!
Useful Contacts in Malaysia
British Council: Tel: 03-27237900/www.educationuk.org.my
STA: Tel: 03-21489800/www.statravel.com.my
MSL: Tel: 03-40424722/www.msltravel.com
UK Visa Application Centre: Tel: 03-21649323/www.vfs-uk-my.com
Wisma Putra/Minsitry of Foreign Affairs: Tel: 03-8874000
(Some students, for example those pursuing courses where they may have dealings with the UK general public, for e.g. like medicine, social work, etc may be informed by their UK university department, to obtain a Certificate of Good Conduct- this can be obtained from Wisma Putra)
Useful Contacts in the UK
London Heathrow Airport: http://www.heathrowairport.com/
Transport for London (London Underground): http://www.tfl.gov.uk/
Manchester Airport: http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/
Malaysian Students Department for UK&Eire:
National Rail (Trains): http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
UK Border Agency: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/
source: MABECS 4th July 2011