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International Students

Information about living in the UK and what to do when you graduate

 

Welcome to Keele!

Life in a new country can be exciting but also brings some challenges - we've answered below some of the most common questions students have about coming to the UK and studying at Keele.

 

Arriving at Keele //

Keele University offers an International Support Package to support you with your travel and help you settle in. They currently offer two different packages, at different prices, depending on your Covid vaccination status. You can read about their support packages on their website.

You can travel to campus by taxi, bus or train. There are trains between Manchester Airport to Manchester Piccadilly station, where there is a regular service to Stoke-on-Trent train station. The National Express bus company, also has a service to Stoke-on-Trent (Hanley bus station) eight times a day. A car journey between Manchester airport and Keele will take about 45 minutes.

The University website has information about what to do when you arrive on campus.

You may hear people talking about ‘culture shock’, which is common among international students who find the UK is very different to what they are used to. UKCISA have prepared a useful guide to help you cope with culture shock.

One of the first things you will want to do when you arrive is buy supplies. We have a Co-op on campus, run by the Students' Union, where you can buy food and other essentials. There are also coffee shops and other eating areas you can visit around campus.

For a wider choice of goods, there are several supermarkets near campus. The closest are:

Sainsbury’s in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, a 15 minute bus journey away.

Morrisons in Goose Street, Newcastle Under Lyme.

Morrisons in Lower Milehouse, Newcastle under Lyme.

Nationals of certain countries are required to register with the police during their stay in the UK. Your visa vignette or Home Office letter approving your visa will state whether you need to register.

If you need to register, you must do so within seven calendar days of your arrival in the UK. You can read more about how to register, and who needs to register, on the Government's website.

The University's Immigration Compliance and Support team can give you specialist help and advice with most visa and immigration queries, including help with your application. You can email them at visa@keele.ac.uk.

 

 

Housing //

We advise you to arrange your accommodation before you come to the UK if possible. If you're planning to live off campus, our Housing pages contain information about house hunting, UK laws, and common issues to look out for.

If you’re planning to live on campus, there are different types of rooms you can apply for – the university has a list on their website of the different rooms and prices.

If you will be living off campus, the most common place where students find housing is Keele Student Pad, the University’s online listing service. They only advertise accredited landlords who are part of the North Staffordshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

You can also search Facebook for ‘Keele Accommodation’ and you will find the ‘Keele Accommodation Group’. Keele students can discuss and post messages regarding accommodation both on and off campus - you can post a message on here if you're looking for accommodation or are advertising accommodation. Many students also advertise for housemates or for a replacement tenant on the 'Keele Student Life' group.

The local newspaper, The Sentinel, advertises properties to rent.

 

Families

If you will be coming with a family, you may find it more difficult to get housing because a lot of the student houses do not accept families. If you’re unable to find a landlord who will rent to a student with a family, get in touch with ASK - we can ask the local Landlord Accreditation Scheme to send an advert out to all their landlords.

 

Housemates

If you’re getting accommodation before you start your course you will probably not know other students yet. Many landlords do individual tenancies, which means they rent out the bedrooms in their property separately. However, this would mean you wouldn't know your housemates before you moved in. There are also several companies that are operating private halls of residence in the local area.

It is very important that you are certain you want to live in the property before you sign a contract - if you change your mind, you can normally only be released or have the terms of the tenancy changed if the landlord agrees to it - landlords will usually only agree to release you from your contract if you find a replacement tenant. This is still the case, even if you've never moved in. Before you agree to live there, make sure you have thought carefully about whether you want to live there and whether you can afford it.

 

Is the landlord accredited?

Check the members list for the Landlord Accreditation Scheme North Staffordshire - only members of this scheme can advertise on Keele Studentpad.

 

Can you afford it?

Consider the total cost of rent, bills, and travel – some properties may be more expensive at first but come with bills included up to a certain amount; others might initially seem cheap but the cost of getting from there to campus could exceed your budget. Our Bills page has a guide to living costs.

 

Have you checked the contract?

Take care to check the tenancy agreement before you sign anything - visit our Tenancy Agreement page for advice on what should/shouldn't be in your contract. You can also read about the different types of tenancies to help you understand your rights and responsibilities.

ASK can check your tenancy agreement before you sign it, to make sure there are no issues with the terms and explain anything you don’t understand.

 

Have you viewed the property?

We advise you to arrange your accommodation before you come to the UK, but this does make it more difficult to check the condition of the property. Ask the landlord for photos of property and some may be able to provide a virtual tour. Be aware that photos and videos can be angled and edited to avoid showing issues, so if you have any concerns about the property or if you're unsure about its layout/size or facilities, we would advise asking the landlord for more details.

If you’re house hunting in the UK, make sure you visit the property and look out for these issues:

  • Signs of damp, disrepair or pests
  • Security on doors and windows
  • Burglar alarms, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • The condition of the carpets and furniture
  • The state of the bathroom(s)

 

Can you get to campus?

Some properties are within walking distance but a lot of students need to drive or take the bus. The local bus stations are Newcastle-under-Lyme (stand 12 for Keele) and Hanley bus depot (stand 4 for Keele). Keele Campus is visited by:

  • First Potteries bus route 25
  • D&G route 85

You can download the ‘First Bus’ app for live bus times, routes, and discounted student tickets. Make sure you read about the Keele Key bus ticket, which gives a discount to Keele students.

If you're planning to drive, you will need to consider costs and whether you can get permits. You may need to get a Residents Parking Permit to park near the house - if you live on a street that needs a permit, you can call 01782 717717 or apply online on your local council's website. If you're driving to Keele University campus you may need to buy parking tickets every day. Campus parking permits would be eventually cost less for the year but they are restricted to those who can't get to Keele using public transport - if you would like a permit you can read about the University's permits on their website.

As a student, it's likely that landlords will insist that you have a UK guarantor. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you don't pay it, and is usually a parent or close relative.  If you don't have a guarantor, some landlords may ask you to pay all the year's rent at the start of your tenancy.  

International students often don't know anyone in the UK who can be a guarantor, so the University has started the Keele University Rent Guarantor Scheme and can act as guarantor for up to 25 eligible students. Full information about this scheme, including eligibility and how to apply, is available on the Keele Website and you can contact Student Services at student.services@keele.ac.uk if you have any questions.

If you're not accepted by the University's scheme, you can pay a guarantor service. Some guarantor services are:

Landlords and letting agents are restricted in the fees they can charge you. You can only be charged for the following:

  • Late payment of rent - any late payment charges must be included in your tenancy agreement and can only be charged once you're 14 days late. You cannot be charged interest of more than 3% APR above the Bank of England's base rate.
  • Reasonable costs for replacing lost keys and fobs.
  • Ending your tenancy early, to cover any loss incurred by the landlord and agent.
  • Changing a tenancy term or passing it to someone else - you can be charged up to £50 but the landlord could charge more if they could prove it had cost them more.
  • Renewing the tenancy for a further term if your original tenancy was created before 1 June 2019 and the tenancy agreement says you must pay a renewal fee.

You cannot be charged for administration, reference checking, or credit and immigration checks.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme has created this useful table that shows what they can and can't charge.

The landlord should provide you with:

When you apply to rent your home in England your landlord or letting agent will ask for additional information from you so they can complete a 'Right to Rent' check. As part of the Immigration Act 2014, landlords are required to check their tenants' immigration status before offering a tenancy agreement to make sure that the tenant has a 'right to rent’, meaning that they are in the country legally as a UK citizen, EU or EEA national or have valid immigration permission to be in the UK. 

Landlords are not allowed to discriminate when offering accommodation, so they need to check everybody's right to rent, even if you're a British citizen, so make sure that you have your documentation ready when you are ready to sign up to a property.  

You have a right to rent if:

  • You are a UK/EEA/Swiss national; or
  • You have the right to be in the UK under EEA law; or
  • You have valid immigration permission to be in the UK; or
  • You do not have valid immigration permission to be in the UK but you have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government (this only applies in exceptional circumstances).

More detailed information is available from the UKCISA website

If you are living off campus you may need to pay for utilities. Some landlords include bills with the cost of rent, which would mean they are in charge of arranging utilities. However, if you are in charge of paying them you will have the choice of which supplier to use.

When you move into your new home there should already be  an electricity and gas supplier and often a telephone/internet provider, but they may not have the best deal for you. You can go to price comparison websites to see the different services offered:

Make sure you take meter readings when you first move in and when you leave, so that you're only paying for the energy you've used.

 

Water

The water provider for this area is Severn Trent Water. Water bills are usually included with rent, but if they are not included you will need to contact Severn Trent to set up an account. If you're not living in the Keele area you can look up your supplier on Water UK.

In the UK most households must pay Council Tax to the local council. The cost is set by your council and goes towards funding local services.

Most students are exempt so you probably will not need to pay Council Tax but if you are studying part-time or you are between courses (for example, between a pre-sessional English course and your Keele course) you will be expected to pay.

If you are sharing a house with someone who is not a full-time student the household will not be exempt and any non-student would be liable. However, if only one of you isn't a full-time student that person would be counted as a 'single person occupant' and get a 25% reduction in the tax.

It is very important that you do not ignore any letters from the council about Council Tax, even if you don't have to pay - if they ask you for money make sure you contact them to tell them you are a full-time student. Your name should be on a list of students sent by the university but if you started at Keele late you might have to show the council your student status letter. You can read more about Council Tax on our Council Tax pages.

We advise you to insure your belongings against loss, theft, fire and accidental damage. You can go to price comparison websites to see different insurance policies on offer:

 

 

Living in the UK //

We've included below some of the most important and local information for you to know. The International Student website has a lot more information about living in the UK.

Keele's nearest town is Newcastle-under-Lyme,  with smaller shops, supermarkets, a leisure centre/swimming pool, a cinema, Laser Quest, restaurants, pubs and clubs.

The City of Stoke-on-Trent (and its main shopping area, Hanley) is a couple of miles further away, with bigger shopping areas including an Intu Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley.

Festival Park is the major retail entertainment centre which includes a range of shops, Water World swimming centre, a Multi-Screen Cinema, a dry ski slope, bowling, and a snooker hall. 

 

News

The local newspaper is the Stoke Sentinel.

The local radio stations you can listen to are BBC Radio Stoke (94.6MHz), Signal 1 (102.6MHz) and Keele University's KUBE (internet broadcasting).

 

Tourist Attractions

For more local tourism ideas, you can go to Visit Stoke, Enjoy Staffordshire, Visit Chester and Visit Peak District.

Some of the most popular local attractions are:

  • Alton Towers theme park.
  • Waterworld - a large water park.
  • Trentham - an estate with beautiful gardens and a shopping village, which also hosts events.
  • Monkey Forest - located next to Trentham estate, you can walk among Barbary macaques.
  • World of Wedgwood - take a tour of the famous ceramic factory and visit their museum.
  • Stoke Museums - several museums that will tell you the history of the Stoke's famous Potteries.
  • Chester Zoo - if you're willing to travel a bit further you can visit the most popular zoo in the UK.

As an international student you will have been enrolled with the Keele Language Centre's Academic English module. The Language Centre can help you with language questions and offer other modules if you would like to learn more.

You can also get one-to-one help with study skills and writing through Write Direction. You can attend HOW2 workshops with other students and read guides to planning and writing essays, organising your studies, and delivering presentations.

Keele may expect you to write in a different way to how you're used to and we have supported a lot of international students who have accidentally plagiarised because of this. Make sure you take the time to learn how to reference and how to write in your own words so you avoid plagiarism. Your course may give a lecture at the start of the year and put a guide on KLE, and you can also work through the university's interactive guides on Studywrite. If you're not sure what you need to do, talk to a tutor in your School.

The British Council website has a lot of information to help international students with banking, budgeting, accommodation, employment, bills, transport, eating out and free things to do.

UKCISA also has a guide to opening a bank account. Please be aware that some banks will not stamp bank statements - this could cause a problem when applying for a new Visa.

There are ATM machines (cash machines) on campus, outside the Student's Union.

 

Sharia principles

If you want an account with a bank that follows Sharia principles, check their websites and publicity materials. Some 'high street' banks offer accounts and services that meet these principles, and there are also some specialist banks you can use:

 

Tax

In the UK your interest in a bank account will be taxed if your money earns more than a minimum amount.  If this might apply to you, you can stop tax being deducted by asking your bank or building society for Form R105 when you open your account.

If you have been working in the UK and paying income tax, you may be entitled to have some of that tax refunded to you when you leave.  Keep your payslips and any P45 or P60 forms you have received from your employer and / or HMRC. 

 

Proving your identity

The Money Advice Service website gives you the identity requirements needed for basic bank accounts. The bank will do a status check to make sure you have permission to be in the UK.

Police

For emergencies call 999.

If it's not an emergency call 101 instead.

 

Hospital / Ambulance

For emergencies call 999.

It it's not an emergency, or you're not sure, you can get medical help by calling NHS Direct on 111.

The nearest hospital is Royal Stoke on Newcastle Road, ST4 6QG. Their phone number is 01782 715444.

 

Fire

For emergencies call 999.

 

Utilities

For gas or carbon monoxide emergencies call the National Gas Helpline at 0800 111 999.

If you have no electricity call the National Power Cut Helpline at 105.

For escape of water emergencies call Severn Trent Water at 0800 783 4444.

GPs and Emergency Treatment

A GP (general practitioner) is a local, family doctor who provides the main point of contact for general healthcare. We would advise registering with a local GP so you can access health care quickly while at Keele. You can find local GPs by using the NHS 'Find a GP' search. Consider how far away the GP is, how easily you can get there, and their opening hours. You may prefer to use Keele Practice, which is situated on campus in the Horwood area. This is the nearest practice for those living on campus and their GPs are used to seeing students and writing letters for the University.

If you become unwell  and you're not registered locally, you can still contact your nearest practice to ask for emergency treatment for 14 days - after that you will have to register as a temporary resident or permanent patient. You can read about registering for temporary medical care here. 

You can also visit an NHS urgent treatment centre for minor injuries and illnesses. You can find your local centre using this NHS search.

 

Dentists

You don’t have to register with a dentist in the same way as a GP, you can just contact a dental practice to check if you can make an appointment, However, if you would like to receive treatment on the NHS you will need to check if the dental practice is taking on new NHS patients - you may need to join a waiting list or pay for private treatment.

You can search for a local dentist on the NHS website.

 

Health Support on Campus

Keele Practice is the nearest GP surgery for those living on campus. It is situated in the Horwood area.

Well Pharmacy is in the row of shops outside the Students' Union building and can also provide some medical advice as well as filling your prescriptions.

Keele students can now access the Health Assured Student Assistance Programme (SAP). This service offers students access to support via a 24 hour confidential helpline, the ‘My Healthy Advantage’ app, and online portal too. The services include mental health support from trained counsellors and advisors who are ready to listen and provide help on issues including emotional and physical health, mental health, counselling, relationships, managing stress and anxiety, money issues, and legal information. More information about Health Assured is on the Keele website.

The University has a free counselling service on campus, you can visit the Counselling webpage for information about their service, how to contact them, and for some great self-help resources. 

 

Other Contacts

Samaritans

Talk to them anytime you like, in your own way, and off the record – about whatever’s getting to you. 

 

PAPYRUS - Prevention of young suicide

Provides confidential help and advice to young people and anyone worried about a young person

Tel: 0800 068 41 41

 

Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline

Weekdays 7pm - 2am Weekends 2pm-2am by phone 08088 002234 and by email staffordshire.helpline@brighter-futures.org.uk

 

Shout

Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope. By texting the word ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 you will start a conversation with a trained Shout Volunteer, who will text you back and forth, sharing only what you feel comfortable with.

 

North Staffordshire Wellbeing Service 

01782 711651

 

Beat - Beating Eating Disorders

Providing helplines, support & a network of UK self-help groups to help people in the UK beat their eating disorders. Tel: 0845 634 1414.

 

MindLine Trans+

Specific mental health helpline for trans+, A gender, gender fluid and non-binary /people wanting to talk about their gender identity for the whole of the UK.

 

The Dove Service

After someone dies, you may experience natural feelings of numbness, sadness, anger or feeling unable to cope.  It is also common to have difficulties with eating, sleeping, poor concentration, headaches and other physical symptoms. If you have suffered from a bereavement and feel the need to talk to someone about how you feel, Dove is a local organisation based in Hanley that can help. You can go to their website for more information and contact details.

There are various mobile phone companies in the UK and you can use comparison websites to find the different prices available.

Uswitch
Money Supermarket
Money Saving Expert
Compare The Market

You can choose to pay monthly or pay as you go:

 

Pay Monthly

If you're paying monthly there will be different contracts to choose from, and the cost will depend on how much data you want, how many phone calls you'll make, and how many messages you'll send.  A contract is normally for a minimum of 12 months but some companies give special offers and benefits.

Pay as You Go

You will only pay for what you use but you need to pay first. You can 'Top Up' your credit when you need to, but when you run out you won't be able to use your phone.

Parcels and letters sent to you on campus can be collected from the Post Room in the Media Building. Use this template for your address:

Room number
Hall
Block
Keele University
Keele
Post Code

If you want to send letters and parcels there is a post office on campus located in the Martin's shop outside the Students' Union.

You may want to store items in the local area while you're at home for the vacation. Some local storage companies include:

In the UK you must pay for a TV licence in order to watch live TV - even if you're only watching on your computer or phone. You can find out more about when you need a licence and how to purchase one on the TV Licensing website.

Buses and Coaches

The local bus stations are Newcastle-under-Lyme (stand 12 for Keele) and Hanley bus depot (stand 4 for Keele). Keele Campus is visited by:

  • First Potteries bus route 25
  • D&G route 85

Download the ‘First Bus’ app for live bus times, routes, and discounted student tickets. Make sure you read about the Keele Key bus ticket, which gives a discount to Keele students.

The National Express coach service base is at Hanley Bus Depot. You can plan your coach journey with Traveline. 

 

Trains

The nearest train station is Stoke-on-Trent, which has a connecting bus stop for Keele directly across the road. Crewe station is also close by and is a major junction for different train routes. 

You can buy tickets and see train times using the Trainline app or website, or by visiting National Rail.

 

Taxis

The main taxi services in the area are:

  • Roseville - call 01782 631234
  • City Cabs - call 01782  844444 or 01782 888888
  • Magnum - call 01782 819819
  • ABC Supreme - call 01782 632222 or 01782 822228

All taxis and drivers must be licensed by the Local Authority. Their individual licence number will be displayed on the vehicle - make sure you check!

 

Driving

If you would like to drive while you are here, you must have a valid driving licence. To find out if you can drive in the UK on your current licence,  you visit the Government's website and answer some questions.

If you need to exchange your current driving licence for a British licence you can find information on the Government's website.

Make sure you learn the UK's driving rules, the Highway Code, as they may be different to your country. For example it is illegal if you don't wear a seatbelt or if you use the touchscreen on your mobile phone while driving.

If you're living off campus and have a car, you may need to get a Residents Parking Permit. If you live on a street that needs a permit, you can call 01782 717717 or apply online on your local council's website. If you're parking on Keele University campus there is a Pay and Display scheme from Monday to Friday. 8.30am – 5.30 pm, with free parking in those areas on evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Campus parking permits are restricted to those who can't get to Keele using public transport - if you would like a permit you can  read about the University's permits on their website.

Full-time students on student visas can have temporary jobs but you can't be self-employed or set up a business. You must be careful not to go over the work limit of 10 hours a week for a Foundation Year or pre-sessional course and 20 hours a week for your main degree. You can read more about working on visa on the University's website. If you're not sure whether your work is permitted, email the Visa team for advice at visa@keele.ac.uk.

The University’s Careers and Employability Service has a job database to help you find flexible part-time work in the Keele area. They are also a valuable resource for developing your employability skills. You can access practical guidance and support on writing your CV, completing job applications, and preparing for interviews.

 

National Insurance

You will need a National Insurance number in order to work. If you have a biometric residence permit (BRP), you might have a National Insurance number already. Check the back of your BRP to see if the number is on the back of your card - it will look like two letters, six numbers, then one letter. If you don't have a National Insurance number, you must apply for one if you want to work. Information about applying is on the government website.

For a list of nearby places of worship, please visit our 'Worship' page.

 

Leaving Keele //

If you are eligible to graduate in the Summer, a letter inviting you to your ceremony on a specific date and at a specific time will be sent out to you (they are sent during the first week of  May).  You will also receive an attendance form with this letter which you must complete and return to the Graduation Office as soon as possible.

If you are due to graduate in the Winter, then a letter inviting you to your ceremony to be held on a specific date and time will be sent out to you at the start of December. You will also receive an attendance form with this letter which you must complete and return to the Graduation Office as soon as possible.

This letter of invitation is proof of your graduation ceremony and is personal to you. It states your full name, student number, course details and ceremony information. This letter will be sent to you at the current contact address that you have given to the University. If you change your address you must tell the University. Please always keep them informed of any changes in your contact details.

You can go to the University website to read more about graduation

There may be some items that you have bought but don’t want to take with you when you leave Keele / the UK.  You may choose to give some items to friends, donate them to charity, or you may want to sell them. Below are some of the different ways you can sell or donate any unwanted items:

  • The Great Donate has donation points around campus to help you give your unwanted goods to charity or for recycling.
  • You can advertise your items on eBay
  • You can advertise on Facebook marketplace
  • You may want to donate items to a local charity
  •  ‘The Emmaus Furniture Mine’ collects unwanted furniture and white goods and passes them on to people in the community who are on benefits or low incomes.

You should leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. Make sure you clean the property thoroughly, remove all your belongings and empty the bins - your landlord can take money from your deposit to cover reasonable costs for cleaning, replacing broken items, and for removing items.

Take plenty of photos of the property to show you left the house in a good, clean condition. If you paid for any service or bought any products to help you leave the house in good condition, keep the receipts as proof.

If you are responsible for bills, contact the utility companies to let them know the final date of your tenancy. Read the meters on the final day (and keep a record), tell the company to close your account and get the final bill sent on to your forwarding address. Send proof of paying final bills to the landlord, as some won't return your deposit unless they have this proof.

Your landlord should return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much will be given back. If anything is broken or you owe money they can deduct it from the deposit.

If you're not able to take everything with you, there are lots of shipping companies who can take your belongings home. They include:

Please check with the British Association of Removers if they are a legal company before booking your removal with any company. You should also make sure that your insurance covers the cost of any lost or broken items.