Students hugging

Advice and support every step of the way

Travelling to the UK to study should be exciting, but it can be daunting too. Getting settled in a new country with different customs, languages, food and currency is a challenge. 

Thankfully, we’re used to making students from all over the world feel at home. Last year we supported 493,000 students from 200 countries before setting off and all the way through their studies. 

From our friendly teaching staff to our excellent pastoral care, we’ll make sure you have all the support and assistance you need.

British Council pre-departure briefings

One of the biggest parts of settling in to life in the UK is feeling completely ready before you go. The British Council can help you do this through ‘pre-departure briefings’, special sessions designed to answer your questions and help you prepare for your move. These events are held in central locations in many countries worldwide and are specifically aimed at students planning to study in the UK. 

Pre-departure briefings are usually held over a day or half-day and include talks and workshops that give you the advice you need to start your studies with confidence.

What do pre-departure briefings cover?

  • Information sessions cover the essential information you need to start settling in when you arrive, including accepting your offer, visa applications, arranging accommodation, opening a bank account and health and wellbeing.
  • They may include talks and workshops by British Council experts, sessions with UK immigration officials, sessions with former students from your country, exhibition stalls from employers, lunches and other opportunities to socialise with fellow students so you can make friends before you get to the UK.
  • Your university or college may also run their own pre-departure briefings and introductory sessions as part of their ‘pastoral care’. Get in touch with their international office to see if there are any events you can attend.

Pastoral care

  • ‘Pastoral care’ is a range of special resources created by universities to give students any additional assistance they need. Lots of this advice and support is tailored specifically to the needs of international students.
  • It can range from making sure you get a warm welcome when you arrive, to helping you apply for your student visa, planning your journey and giving you English language support throughout your studies. Basically, anything you need to prepare and feel ready.
  • Pastoral care is designed to take away any nerves you have before you travel. So you can concentrate on preparing for your studies and the exciting opportunity you have to immerse yourself in British culture. After all, there’s a lot to get excited about! 

Student well-being

  • University staff in the UK are here to help guide you in your study journey, giving you not just academic support but the friendly encouragement and motivation you need to thrive. 
  • Whatever the problem, you’re never alone. You can always ask staff at your college, university or school for help in confidence. 
  • There are many institutions who have staff who are trained to offer specific advice and support to those who are experiencing personal problems.
  • We have asked a counsellor and manager of Student Well-being Services at the University of Plymouth to answer some questions on how counsellors support students in British universities. You can download the interview as a PDF file in the "Interview with a Student Counsellor" link below.

A welcoming multicultural atmosphere

The UK is highly diverse, with different cultures and religions from all over the world creating a unique feel in every different city. You’ll find a vibrant and varied atmosphere wherever you go, from festivals to art and culture. 

The diversity of world food on offer in the UK is growing all the time, so whether you want to discover new tastes or find dishes and ingredients from home, there’s plenty to explore.

One of the reasons international students feel especially at home in the UK is the diversity of our universities. 30% of academic staff in the UK are from overseas, meaning you’ll be connecting with people from all over the world, no matter what you choose to study.

Download one of our guides

If you can’t attend a pre-departure briefing, you can still find out the essential info you need to know by downloading our pre-departure guide PDFs below. Each document is designed to take you through the same advice on travel and settling into student life in the UK that you would get at the event.