Travel to the UK

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.

Travel Insurance

The Secretariat does not provide travel insurance for scholars. You are advised to take out travel insurance for your journey as neither Diversity Travel nor the Secretariat can take responsibility for your baggage or onward travel.

Issues while travelling

Should there be an issue with your flight while you are travelling, please contact Diversity Travel using the telephone number noted on your ticket as they are best placed to assist you. Your Programme Officer is only available during office hours whereas Diversity operate a 24-hour emergency telephone line.

Please do not contact your Chevening Officer in your home country, as they will be unable to assist.

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.

Excess baggage

Please note, baggage allowance will vary between airlines. Your booking confirmation will confirm how much baggage allowance you have included in your ticket: 

If you require additional/excess baggage please arrange and pay for this directly with the airline. You are paid an arrival allowance which you can use towards this cost if you wish. Please check your final award letter to see whether this payment is covered by your award.

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 from the start date of your award until 31 October
  • Arrival allowance (amount confirmed in final award letter)
  • Travel top-up allowance for mandatory events (non-London scholars)

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.

Travel during award

As noted in the terms and conditions of the scholarship, 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.

Please make sure you have all the appropriate documents with you when you travel, you can see more here.

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 Aer Lingus, British Airways, easyJet, and Flybe all fly between mainland UK and Northern Ireland. Please consult their websites directly to find the best prices.

Travel home after award

Information for 2018/2019

Booking your flights

All return flights home are booked through the Diversity Travel Portal.

You will receive an email from your programme officer when it is possible to start this process, as your booking period will depend on your course end date.

  • Scholars with June course end dates must book flights before 1 May.
  • Scholars with July end dates must book flights before 31 May.
  • Scholars with August end dates must book flights before 1 July.
  • Scholars with 1 - 20 September end dates must book flights before 8 July.
  • Scholars with 21-30 September end dates must book flights before 31 July.
  • Scholars with October end dates must book flights before 22 August.

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 departure allowance and final month of stipend being withheld. 

Chevening does not specify when you leave the UK between your course end date and the visa expiry date. However, please note that your stipend will only be provided up until the end date of your course or your depart UK date, whichever is earliest. 

You are advised to take out travel insurance for your journey as neither Diversity Travel nor the Secretariat can take responsibility for your baggage or onward travel.

For more information about booking your travel home, please look at the Chevening policy and guidelines.

How to book:​
  1. Visit the booking portal
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Our dedicated team at Diversity Travel receive a high volume of calls and emails; please be patient and only contact them once and then wait for a response.

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, ask 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.