Living in the UK

Living and studying in the UK is incredibly rewarding and exciting with a diverse range of things to participate in and experience while you are here. However, it is a unique environment and it can take some time to adjust, particularly if you have not travelled to the UK before. The information in this section has been prepared to assist you to adjust as quickly as possible to life in the UK and make the most of your time on award.

Accommodation

Depending on your fellowship, pre-arranged accommodation may be included. If so, this will have been arranged by your host university. Alternatively, you may be required to secure your own accommodation for the duration of your fellowship. The relevant provision will be included in your final award letter.

Pre-arranged accommodation

Accommodation is included as part of your fellowship and your host university has made all arrangements pertaining to this. Your host university will provided details of your accommodation including check in and check out dates once you have accepted your Chevening fellowship. Accommodation will be:

  • Single occupancy rooms within a shared apartment
  • Fully furnished
  • Self-catering
  • Only available for residence by individual awarded the Chevening fellowship
  • Fellows are expected to adhere to the conditions of tenancy provided by the host university and should respect the property and fellow residents in the apartment and building with full respect. Any reported misconduct in the residency may result in termination of your fellowship award or/and fine for the cost of damages.  

Fellows who may have family visiting during their fellowship will be required to make separate accommodation arrangements and should not be housed in the same accommodation which has been arranged by the host university. Fellows may elect to move out of the university arranged accommodation during that time to stay with family, however the fellow will be responsible for the full cost and will not be reimbursed any funds from the university or Chevening Secretariat for any time spent residing away from the pre-arranged accommodation.

If you are an awardee with a disability, please advise the Chevening Secretariat as early as possible so that we can provide details to your host university in the event adjustments need to be made for housing.

Securing your own accommodation 

If accommodation is not pre-arranged by your host university, you will be required to secure accommodation yourself. Your monthly stipend is calculated to cover all costs associated with everyday living including all accommodation costs.

Your host university will usually have an accommodation office which can provide advice about finding accommodation and you should contact them prior to your arrival. Accommodation advice from the Chevening Secretariat is limited and we strongly advise that you take advantage of university/college housing whenever this is available. 

Please note that the Chevening Secretariat is not able to act as a guarantor for or pay accommodation deposits on behalf of awardees under any circumstances. You should therefore inform accommodation providers that this is the case.

Types of accommodation

If you accept university accommodation (e.g. college or hall of residence), you will normally be required to remain there for one academic year. 
If you are London-based, you may also want to consider options such as International Student House and Goodenough College.

Halls of residence

Halls of residence (normally just called ‘Halls’) are typically purpose-built, occupied by a large number of students. Some halls of residence provide meals (‘catered’), although nowadays most halls of residence do not.

Your university will be able to provide details of the accommodation they offer.

Private accommodation

You may choose to live in private accommodation, but please be aware that it is at your own risk and you may be subject to additional costs such as agency fees and council tax payments (which you must meet using your living allowance and personal funds if required). We strongly recommend that you do not sign any private accommodation contracts until they have been checked by the housing adviser at your university. 

Who to contact if you have housing issues

You should contact your university in the first instance. We do not have a legal adviser at the Secretariat to assist with housing issues in the UK, but if you are having problems with current accommodation, you can contact the welfare and immigration team to get additional support and information about where you can get legal advice.

Costs

Your final award letter details your monthly stipend, and is intended to cover all costs, including housing. It is advisable that you look out for hidden costs and things which are not included. In university housing, the costs for utilities such as gas, water and electricity are likely to be included in the rent, but this may not always be the case. For private accommodation these will vary and you should clarify all inclusions prior to signing a contract or lease.

Deposits

A deposit is a sum of money you pay to your university/ landlord at the start of the contract. The university/landlord will return the money soon after you move out, but they are entitled to keep some of the money if they incur expenses for which you are responsible. For privately arranged accommodation, deposits should be held at the Tenancy deposit protection scheme. More information about deposits is available on the UK Government website.

Insurance

We recommend take out possessions insurance to protect your belongings from theft, fire, loss or accidental damage while you are staying in the UK. Some universities include possessions insurance as part of the deal, but check this covers all your possessions. 

Council tax

As a fellow, it is likely that you will need to pay council tax if you live in a privately rented accommodation. You are only exempt from council tax if you are a full-time student who lives in halls of residence or only with other full-time students. However, if you live in privately rented accommodation with any non-students you may have to pay council tax. For more information on council tax please see council tax.

Expectations of tenants

For private and some university accommodation, you will need to sign a contract. It is a legal requirement to pay your rent on the day stipulated in your contract and not doing so could result in financial penalties. You will be expected to keep your accommodation reasonably tidy and report any damages or issues with your accommodation to your landlord as soon as possible. Loud music or unnecessary loud noise is prohibited. 

Healthcare

National Health Service (NHS)

The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK’s state healthcare system providing a wide range of health care services including appointments with a doctor, hospital treatment and dental care. The NHS provides emergency treatment to all. If your visa is granted for 6months or more, you may have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at the point of visa application. The Chevening Secretariat’s welfare and immigration team will provide further guidance once your final award letter has been issued, if this is relevant to you.

Not all treatments are free of charge; for instance you will have to pay for prescriptions along with dental and optical treatment. Check the NHS and UKCISA websites for further information.

NHS regulations vary slightly in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You are advised to check the relevant website:
Scotland

Wales
Northern Ireland

If you take certain medication that is prescribed by your doctor, please check to find out if your prescription medication contains a controlled drug and if you will be permitted to bring it to the UK. You can read more here about travelling to the UK with medication https://www.gov.uk/travelling-controlled-drugs

Serious health or welfare issues after arrival in the UK

In the event of serious health or welfare issues that occur after your arrival in the UK, please notify your fellowships officer and/or the welfare and immigration team as soon as possible so that they can assist you and advise you of any next steps as appropriate.  

Please ensure that you keep any evidence (such as medical reports or letters from your doctor) relating to your situation as they may be required by both the Secretariat and your university.

Disability

Universities may provide some assistance to award holders with special needs. You should ensure that you inform your university of your disability and associated requirements so that they can let you know what they are able to provide. Please be aware that your university may ask you to have a disability assessment upon arrival to ensure that they can make provisions and arrange support where appropriate.

The Chevening Secretariat may also provide some financial contribution towards reasonable adjustments. This will be considered on a case by case basis so you should contact the welfare and immigration team for further information. A person who has been offered an award and who declares on the medical report form that he/she is disabled and has special needs will be asked if the Chevening Secretariat can discuss his/her needs with the university.

Please notify the welfare and immigration team if you have a disability as you will be sent a short questionnaire to complete before arrival in the UK. Completing the questionnaire is optional; however it strongly recommended as it will help us to assess what additional support you may require whilst in the UK. If you do not complete the questionnaire, we will not be able to confirm what support is available and it is unlikely that we will be able to make appropriate arrangements prior to your arrival in the UK. Please be assured that no information in the questionnaire will be disclosed to a third party without your consent. If you wish to complete the questionnaire but have not received one, please email them.

Compassionate journeys (in the event of the death or life-threatening illness of a close relative)

If informed in advance, the Chevening Secretariat can fund an economy class return air ticket in the event of the death or life-threatening illness of a close relative of a scholar. A close relative is defined as: spouse, civil partner or registered partner, child or step-child, parent, sibling, step-parent, legal guardian, other legally recognised next-of-kin (where none of the relatives above are alive). Please note that grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives are not included in the definition of close relative (unless they are your legally recognised next-of-kin for which you can provide suitable evidence). Please contact the welfare and immigration team for further advice about this.

Useful websites

British life and culture 

Weather in the UK

The British weather is unpredictable! The coldest daytime temperatures are in the period from November to February and are between 2°C and 9°C. The climate during these winter months can seem harsh, and wet or windy weather will make it seem even colder. Be prepared for the shorter daylight hours in the winter. It can get quite dark by 3pm.

Academic culture

Each Chevening fellowship has been developed specifically with a varying structure and mode of delivery. Your host university will provide further details on the expectations of your participation and expected outcomes after you have confirmed your award. However, for general information on British academic culture please see Studying in the UK.

Food etiquette, manners and tipping

Making tea in a teapot, making small talk, asking for the bill, and many other aspects of daily life in the UK are all discussed in this interesting Guide to British manners

Religion 

The UK is very tolerant of different faiths, and most towns have places of worship for the main world religions. 

Many people in the UK may be broadly described as ‘culturally’ Christian, even if they do not consider themselves to have a formal or active faith. The major Christian festivals are public holidays, but other religious festivals such as Eid, Diwali and Passover are widely observed and respected. 

All universities have a Chaplaincy service, as a source of information about faith matters. Most students’ unions also have a range of faith-based societies and groups. 

Relationships, gender and sexuality 

The UK student life website has information aimed at students who are new to the UK, about British approaches and attitudes about dating, and about romantic and sexual relationships. 

The British government, through the Home Office, actively promotes the equality of men and women in public, private and professional life, and the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people.

Alcohol, smoking, drugs 

Student social life in the UK often includes drinking alcohol, and the university’s student union bar will usually be a focus of activity and meeting. All places that serve alcohol also serve soft drinks, and if you choose not to drink alcohol, this will not harm your student social life or ability to meet people.

Smoking has been banned in all indoor public places in the UK for several years, including student union bars, all other bars and restaurants, workplaces, all forms of transport, some whole buildings, and even some entire university campuses. Cigarettes are kept behind the counter in shops. If you are a smoker, you will find you often need to move to the ‘smoking area’, or even out into the street, before you can smoke. You must ensure that you stub your cigarette out when you are finished and put the end in a bin. You may be fined if you are caught littering the street with cigarette ends (or any other litter).