- Travel to the UK (information for 2016/2017 scholars)
- Travel during your award
- Travel from the UK (information for 2015/2016 scholars)
Booking your flights
If your scholarship covers the cost of a return flight to the UK, this will be confirmed in your final award letter. Soon after receiving your award letter, your programme officer will provide you with the contact details for Diversity Travel, our designated travel agency, so that you can arrange your flights directly with them. They will then book your flight and invoice the Secretariat so you do not have to make a payment yourself.
Chevening travel policy
Chevening operates a strict travel policy, so please make sure you read it. By accepting your scholarship, you agree to abide by these terms and conditions.
What to expect at the airport
When you arrive at the airport in the UK, you will go through immigration control, before collecting your luggage. Please ensure that you have your passport including your visa, and your final award letter in your hand luggage as these will need to be shown at immigration control. There will normally be a specific queue for nationals of countries that are outside the European Economic Area.
What to expect at the airport is explained in further detail on the UK.Gov website.
Meet and greet service
Many universities have a ‘meet and greet’ service where you can be met at the airport or the local train station. The university will give you details about any service that they run. Otherwise, they will be able to give you detailed guidance on how to travel to your campus or other final destination.
Cash for arrival
A sum of GBP 200 is recommended for the first few days to meet any immediate expenses.
For scholars whose Chevening Scholarship includes stipend and allowance payments, this will be confirmed in your final award letter. If this is the case, prior to your arrival in the UK, you will have received a cash card. You must have activated this before travelling to the UK and the following payments will be credited to the card prior to your arrival:
- Stipend (living allowance) for the period up until 31 October 2016
- Arrival allowance (amount confirmed in final award letter)
- Study travel grant
- Materials allowance
- Travel top-up allowance
Note: Your stipend is calculated from your course start date and not the date you arrive in the UK.
Please inform your programme officer of the date you will be arriving in the UK. You are advised to do this as soon as you are able so that arrival payments can be credited to your card.
Things to do when you arrive:
(1) Register with the police
If you are required to register with the police upon your arrival in the UK you should ensure that you do so as soon as possible. You should use funds from your arrival allowance to pay the police registration fee.
(2) Send your registration form to your programme officer
Towards the end of October you will be sent a two page registration form by your programme officer. This form will ask for confirmation of the following:
- Your UK address
- Your UK contact details
- The date you arrived in the UK
- The date to which your visa has been granted
- Your course end date (you must keep your programme officer informed if this date changes)
- Your bank details (please see section below)
It is your responsibility to keep your programme officer up to date with any change of personal details whether temporary or permanent. If your details change or you notice an error in the details that we hold about you, you must notify your programme officer immediately.
(i) Open a bank account
If you are in receipt of a full Chevening Scholarship, you should open a UK bank account when you arrive in the UK. Chevening will pay your stipend, allowances, grants and reimbursements into this account. This is the most secure way of us making payments to you.
Your university should be able to provide you with details of banks with which you can set up an account, and also with copies of any documentation you may need to do this. Please note that the Secretariat cannot advise you on which bank to open an account with but your university can offer you advice.
(ii) Complete the Banking Information request form
After you have chosen a bank, please complete the banking information request form. This will be sent to you via email by your programme officer and you must return it to them completed. Please ensure that you title the email ‘Bank Account Information – XXCV-2016-XXXX’ to ensure that there are no issues.
To complete the form, you will need to provide your bank sort code which is a six digit number and your account number, which is an eight digit number. Please also ensure that you clearly put the name that is on the account as it is written, for example Mr. A. Scholar or Miss Happy Scholar. Please note that this form is password protected for your security. Your programme officer will send you the password to access this form by email in the October Scholargram.
You should try to open a bank account as soon as possible after your arrival in the UK in time for the November stipend to be paid at the end of October. Please note that stipend payments may be withheld if you fail to open a bank account by this date.
You may find that cultural norms in the UK differ from those in your own country. This may make you feel unsettled, but don’t worry, this is completely normal!
Here is some advice to help you cope if you experience culture shock:
(1) Keep in touch
Keep in touch with home. This is easy and cheap to do through email, social networks, SMS and Skype, amongst others. Many companies offer very cheap international calls through a landline or mobile phone line. However, we advise scholars to impose some limits on your contact with friends and family at home as this can make you feel more isolated and prevent you from settling into life in the UK.
(2) Maintain exposure to home
- Read newspapers and websites that give you updates from home, or watch internet TV from home.
- Have familiar things around you that have personal meaning, such as photographs or ornaments.
- Find a supplier of familiar food if you can.
(3) Get involved
- Take regular exercise, because as well as being good for your health, it can be a way of meeting people.
- Interact with the international student network at your university, whether from your own culture or from others, as they will understand how you are feeling.
- Find activities where you can meet UK students, e.g. sports, music or volunteering.
(4) Use available services
Take advantage of all the help that is offered by your university. An orientation programme is offered by most universities, and it can be a valuable way of meeting people and finding out about services that can help you.
Use the university or college services too, where there will be professional and experienced staff. For example, the health service, the counselling service, the international office or hall wardens will provide a friendly, listening ear.
For some students, linking with a faith community will put you in touch with a familiar setting, whether it is a church, mosque, synagogue or temple. Many universities have a chaplaincy in which several faiths may be represented. There may also be religious student societies. Many chaplaincies welcome students of all faiths for pastoral or social activities.
Investigate the Students’ Union and its societies, because there may be an opportunity to learn a new sport or activity or continue an interest from home. A further advantage is that these societies bring together students from different courses and countries with a shared interest.
(5) Keep talking
Above all; find someone to talk to who will listen uncritically and with understanding, rather than isolating yourself. If you are really struggling and want to talk to someone confidentially, you can contact the welfare and immigration team.
Scholars are not permitted to be outside of the UK for either academic or personal reasons for more than 30 days throughout the entire period of their award.
For more information about travelling during your award, please look at the Chevening policy and guidelines.
Planning travel in the UK
Some of you may already be considering places in the UK to visit during your Chevening year. As a student you are eligible to purchase a Young Person’s Railcard which will give up to 1/3 off rail prices throughout the UK. Please consult the website to find out more about the railcard. To get the best prices on train tickets in the UK, you do need to plan in advance and book your tickets early.
Britain by rail
The following websites may be useful in making rail arrangements:
Britain by coach
If you plan far enough in advance, travelling to and from Scotland can be done inexpensively by plane. British Airways, Eastern Airways, easyJet, Flybe and Virgin Atlantic all fly between London and Scotland, while Scotland while Aer Lingus, British Airways, easyJet and Flybe all fly between the mainland UK and Northern Ireland. Please consult the websites directly to find the best prices’. Please consult the websites directly to find the best prices.
Booking your flights
To arrange your return flight home, you should contact Diversity travel. Your programme officer will send an email to you to remind you to start this process.
You will be given a deadline for booking your flight by your programme officer. Failure to book your flight or communicate the details to your programme officer will result in your final month of stipend being withheld. You may book your flight to depart the UK any time between your course end date and your visa expiry date. However, please note that your stipend will only be provided up until the end date of your course.
For more information about booking your travel home, please look at the Chevening policy and guidelines.
Please note: This information is solely for use by 2015/2016 Chevening Scholars.
How to book:
- Visit the booking portal.
- Read through the terms and conditions and FAQs. You will need to tick the box agreeing to the terms and conditions before entering the booking portal.
- Complete the booking form, ensuring all sections are answered.
Once you have submitted your booking form, Diversity will send you an automated email with a reference number to confirm that they have received your request.
They will then email you with up to three travel itineraries (where there are three options that meet the Chevening travel policy). You should reply to Diversity as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours) to confirm your preferred itinerary.
Diversity Travel will make arrangements for the issue of the ticket to you directly. Please check the details of your ticket carefully. If changes are needed you should inform Diversity by 17:00 on the day that the ticket is issued, and any delay may result in you being charged for changes.
If you are still unsure after that, please contact Diversity again to seek advice.
Practical advice for returning home
(1) Packing and sending belongings home
If you have items you do not need or do not want to take home, such as furniture, textbooks, a computer or stereo, you can try either selling them to other students, advertising them in the local newspaper; or giving them to a local charity shop.
If there are items that you will be unable to take with you by plane, there are options to send them by ship or rail. Ask your student adviser for suggestions or consult either the British Association of Removers or the British International Freight Association (BIFA). Check if the price includes insurance to cover any loss or breakages.
(2) Notify people/organisations of your departure
You will need to inform various people about your departure from your UK address, e.g. your academic department, your accommodation provider, your former employer (if you have one), your doctor, your bank. It’s best to contact organisations at least a month before you leave to find out about deadlines and what you need to do.
Check if there is a specific notice period for your accommodation and find out how you can get your deposit back before you leave or you will be charged rent even after you have left.
(3) Pay outstanding bills
Pay all bills and any other money you owe before you leave the UK. Remember that UK banks have agreements with banks in many other countries, which could enable them to collect debts from your home bank. Also, your institution may refuse to give you your degree or other academic qualification until you pay any money you still owe for your tuition fees, accommodation, or library fines.
(4) Pass on your forwarding address
You can arrange for the Royal Mail Re-direction Service to forward your UK mail to your address in your home country. Please note that there is a fee for this. You may also wish to give your home address to people or organisations so that they can forward on any correspondence or important information.
(5) Claim refunds
(i) Income tax refunds for work undertaken in UK
If you have done some part-time or vacation work in the UK, and you have paid income tax, you may be entitled to have some of that tax refunded to you. Contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for details on how to claim an income tax or national insurance refund.
(ii) Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds
If you have bought items in the UK within three months of your departure date that you plan to take back to your home country (outside the European Economic Area (EEA)), you might be able to claim back some of the Value Added Tax (VAT). To use the VAT Refund Scheme, you will normally have to buy the goods from a shop that operates the scheme. You can find more information about VAT refunds from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
(6) Acquire references & research prospects
To help you in your professional life back in your home country, it can be very helpful to have references from the UK. At least a month before you leave, contact a few people who can comment on your abilities and your work (such as an academic supervisor or employer) and ask them for a written reference. Please note that staff at the Secretariat will not be able to provide you with professional or academic references.
Your university’s Careers Service may be able to help you research potential employers in your home country and recommend websites which will email job vacancies to you.
(7) Departure survey
Once you have completed your scholarship you will receive your departure survey which you should complete.
This is your final opportunity to give structured feedback to us on your Chevening experience so please make sure you fill it out and return it by the deadline.
Reverse culture shock
Many students are surprised to find that they also need a period of adjustment when they return to their home country. Although you may think that it will be easy to go back to familiar relationships and patterns of behaviour, you may have some difficulty settling back in and need time to adjust.
Be aware of reverse culture shock, but do not worry about it. Concentrate on enjoying the positive aspects of being back home, such as being with friends and family and rediscovering your country.
Your university may offer special workshops for students who are about to return home which will look in more detail at the type of issues we have mentioned and help you to develop strategies to deal with reverse culture shock. We recommend you make use of these.
Here are a few ideas to help you prepare for your return home:
Give yourself time
The most important thing that you can do to deal with reverse culture shock is to simply give yourself time when you get home. Ensure you give yourself enough time to adjust to the time zone and get into a routine and don’t exhaust yourself trying to see all your family and friends at once.
Understand that life at home will have changed
When abroad, there is a tendency to create an idealized version of home in which everything is exactly how we left it – and is a perfect version. Recognise that there will be aspects of life that will have changed in your absence. Keep in contact with friends and family while you are in the UK so you can know what to expect. When home, aske them to help you fill in any gaps.
Share your experiences with others
Although you might feel like no one wants to listen, there will be people interested in your experiences in the UK and who will want to know more. We encourage you to also maintain contact with the scholars you met whilst being in the UK, as well as getting involved with Chevening Alumni activities in your country. Read more in the new alumni section about how the Chevening team in your country can play a role in helping you settle back in at home.