Skip to main content

Life in the UK

Living and studying in a different country can be both exciting and challenging. To help, we've put together a short guide to some of the most important things you'll need to know about life in the UK.

If you can't find what you're looking for on this page, don't worry. You can find lots more about life here and studying at Harper Adams, in your International Student Handbook.

If you've got questions or still aren't sure of something, we'd be happy to help. Take a look at our contacts page to find out who's best to speak to.


Living on campus

Most students in their first year live on campus in halls of residence. If you're an international student we'll give you priority for this. If for any reason we can't find a place for you in our halls of residence on campus, our student services team will help you to find private accommodation that's near to the university.

Living in private accommodation

In your second, third and fourth years of study, we'll help you to find a place to live that's near to the university. We'll help you to find accommodation that can include your family, if that's necessary.

Council Tax

In the UK, people have to pay for local services (such as police and libraries) through Council Tax. If you are living with other students, on or off campus, and are in full-time education you won't have to pay Council Tax. If you are living with a partner who can't work or claim benefits as part of their visa, then they won't have to pay council tax either. You may be required to prove that you're a student to the local council or your immigration status to a landlord (if you're renting private accommodation near to the university). We can help you with this.

Academic life

Studying at university in the UK may be different to what you're used to in your own country. Courses are normally split up into 'modules' which cover different topics within the overall subject you're studying. These modules are usually taught in lectures to large groups and followed up by tutorial sessions with smaller groups. You may get the chance to see what you're learning in action with a trip to a neighbouring farm, environmental project or something appropriate to your studies.

To help you get settled into academic life in the UK, we'll invite you to a pre-sessional programme. This takes place before the start of the academic year and is designed to introduce you to life in the UK and help you prepare to study at Harper Adams. For some students, attending the pre-sessional programme may be mandatory.

English language support

If English is not your first language, you can access our English language support services. These include classes, one-to-one sessions and pre-sessional English language courses. We'll tell you more about these services when you apply, but you can also get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Contacting home

Public phones

We have four public phones that you can use on campus, and you'll find others in nearby towns and cities. You may need to buy an international phone card from a local shop to use these, but some accept coins (£1, 50p, 20p, 10p).

Mobile phones

There are many mobile phone networks in the UK. The main ones are O2, Three, EE and Vodafone. They all offer 'pay as you go' SIM cards with no contract. It's best to look at the different offers and tariffs to find the best deal for you. We also include a free Lebara SIM card with every welcome pack, which you can use if you like.


The postal service in the UK is good value and reliable. To post letters or postcards, you'll need to buy stamps (from a Post Office or shop), attach them to the top-right corner and post your item in a postbox. For larger items such as parcels or packages, you'll need to take them to a Post Office. Here you can also send items using secure or quick delivery services.

Skype and email

If you're staying in our halls of residence, we'll give you access to Wi-Fi internet for free, so you may want to use a free video calling program like Skype to speak to friends and family at home. You'll also be given a university email address, which you can use to keep in touch.

Health and hospitals

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) provides hospitals, doctors and dentists.

If you're from a country that's outside of the EU, you'll need to pay £150 per year to access the NHS. You do this when you apply for your visa. This gives you access to free health treatment (including emergency and hospital care) and NHS dental treatment at a reduced cost. You can find further information on this on the UK Government website.

If you're from a country inside the EU, make sure you have a European Health Insurance card, as you'll need this to access the NHS.

We have a doctors' surgery on campus Monday to Friday (term-time) and there's a local doctors' surgery in Newport. The Princes Royal Hospital near Telford is the closest hospital.

Money, shopping and insurance

Banking in the UK

Banks in the UK are normally open from 9.30-16.30, Monday-Friday. Some larger banks in towns are also open on Saturday mornings. To open a bank account, you'll need your passport or ID card, your visa or residence permit and some evidence of the course you're studying and your address. The nearest banks to the university are Lloyds TSB, NatWest, HSBC and Barclays.

Exchanging currency

If you need to exchange foreign currency, you can do this at most high street banks or at a Post Office. For Euros and US Dollars you can usually do this on the same day, but for other currencies you may have to call up in advance.


Although crime isn't as high in the UK as it is in some other countries, we'd still recommend that you insure your personal possessions. The Endsleigh Insurance Company has insurance policies specifically for students and is recommended by the National Union of Students (NUS).

Cost of living

The cost of living in the UK may be more than you're used to at home. We recommend using the International Student Calculator to help you come up with an estimate for what your living costs might be.

Schools and childcare

If you're bringing your family over to the UK, you may need to enrol them in a school, depending on how old they are. Schooling in the UK is free and compulsory for all children over the age of five and under the age of 16. Three and four year olds are entitled to free nursery care for 15 hours a week, for 38 weeks of the year. Some two-year-olds are also eligible. We can help and advise you on childcare and applying for school places for your child.

Social life

The Students' Union at Harper Adams organises events all year round, both on and off campus. It's a great way to get to know other students, practice your English and try new things.

The Students' Union is also home to many different clubs and societies that are centred around hobbies or sports. The International Society is just one of the many organised clubs. It organises trips and events for international students to help them see the UK, get to know British culture and make friends.

There's also a gym, sports hall, pitches and courts on campus for sports activities and training.

Transport and travel

Airport links

The nearest airport to Harper Adams is Birmingham Airport, from which you can take a train to Stafford or Telford, and a bus or taxi to the university campus. Alternatively, you could fly in to Heathrow Airport, which has regular flights to and from countries all over the world.

Free bus service

During term time we operate a shuttle bus service between the university and the nearby towns of Newport and Telford. You'll need to show your student ID card to use this bus service and it may be busy in the mornings and evenings.

Train and bus travel

To visit other parts of the country, you'll need to take a bus or train. The local bus company is Arriva and you can find their fares and timetables on their website. Harper Adams has three train stations nearby - Telford (with routes towards Birmingham), Stafford (with routes towards London and Scotland) and Shrewsbury (with routes towards Manchester and Wales). You can find out more about train times, routes and fares on the National Rail website.

Driving in the UK

If you're from outside of the EU, you will only be able to drive in the UK on an international driving licence for 12 months. After that, you'll need to apply and take a test for a British licence. To find out more, take a look at the UK Government website.

Working in the UK

If you're studying in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you can take on some part-time work in the UK. Depending on your visa, you will only be able to work a maximum of 10-20 hours per week. On your student visa, you are not allowed to take on a full-time job or be self-employed.

If there is a work placement or internship as part of the course you're studying, you'll be allowed to do this, even if it is full-time work. You can also work more hours in the holidays, providing there are no specific restrictions on your visa.

If you are from an EU country, there are no restrictions on the amount of hours you can work alongside your studies, but working a lot of hours might impact your studies.

Part-time work is often advertised in local newspapers and there are even some part-time jobs available at Harper Adams.

Cookies on the Harper Adams University website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.