UK Money Explained
Understanding UK money and budgeting properly for your studies is very important. Keeping a close eye on your finances is a great way to avoid unnecessary stress, allowing you to concentrate on your studies and enjoy your time in the UK to the full.
The unit of currency in Britain is the pound sterling (£). It is divided into one hundred pence. Coins are in values of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 & £2. The notes are in denominations of £5, £10, £20 & £50. Euros are not widely accepted in the UK but are easily exchangeable.
International students do not always find it easy to open a bank account in the UK as different banks operate different policies. It is wise to assume that it might take up to two weeks to open an account. Make sure that you have access to a small amount of cash for your immediate needs during this time. However, do not carry large amounts of cash or keep large amounts of cash in your accommodation as there is a risk it could be stolen. Bring travellers cheques or possibly a credit or cash card instead, if you have one.
Remember that you will be required to provide several pieces of identification in order to open an account: your passport, a letter from Leeds Beckett University confirming that you are a student and a document confirming your UK address (for example a contract for your accommodation). The bank may also require information about your bank account in your home country and proof of your home country address. Please note - your passport will not be accepted as proof of your overseas home address by the bank.
All major banks and some foreign banks are represented in Leeds, and you can open a suitable account at a Building Society or Post Office. Choose a branch near your place of study. We cannot recommend which bank to use, but you should find out what services different banks offer and compare them before you open an account. The benefits and costs may vary considerably from one bank to another, so try to find the best deal for you! Ask to speak to the bank's Student Advisor and obtain some written information to take away and read. Lloyds TSB and Santander are also present at City Campus during the Fresher’s Festival to help you set up an international student account if you wish.
The British Banking Association have also provided a useful guide to opening an International student bank account, which you can access through the UKCISA website.
Many international students find that banks do not provide them with an overdraft or loan facilities and will not issue credit or cheque guarantee cards to them. You may also be charged substantial fees for transferring one currency into another. Make sure that your account offers the facility for a tax refund on interest paid to you as an international student. Please note that it may take 10 -15 days before your new bank account is fully operational with a printed cheque book, cash card and PIN (Personal Identification Number). If you are transferring money to the UK by banker's draft, it is strongly recommended that it is made out in pounds sterling. A draft in another country's currency can take 3 - 4 weeks to clear, leaving you without financial support meanwhile.
Once you have opened a bank account you will receive monthly bank statements. Keep these in a safe place because you will need them in future to support applications to the Home Office for an extension of stay in the UK.
You may also use an internationally acceptable credit card for many payments. If you are enrolling on a course that lasts for six months or less you may have difficulty in opening an account in the UK. You are strongly advised to contact your local branch in your home country to find out what cards would be best for you to bring with you. Students bringing with them large amounts of US $ may be able to open a dollar account, changing them into £ sterling when the exchange rate is favourable.
The Student Financial Advisors are available to give advice and guidance if you experience difficulties but there is very little financial help available to international students who get into financial difficulties. It is important to make sure that your funding is adequate before you travel to the UK and start your studies. Costs can be broken down into a number of different areas, and we advise you to budget for all eventualities. For example, you could ask your tutors which are the essential books that they would recommend for you from books included on reading lists.
Only withdraw the actual amount of money that you need from the bank. If you take out more than you need, you are likely to spend it! Please remember, you can't rely on part-time work in the UK to provide you with enough money for your studies and to meet your living costs.
Try using the International Student Calculator to build your own budget in preparation for UK study and be confident about managing your money.
It is very difficult to guess how much your living costs will be as we are all very different! Remember though, even with very careful budgeting it can be very difficult to control your spending. Especially as at the beginning of your study in the UK you may find the currency a little bit strange and it may take a little bit of getting used to. The money you have in the UK may seem like a large amount compared to what you would have had back home – be careful. Some things in the UK can cost more and basic essential items might cost far more than you are used to paying in your home country. The city centre is full of shops, arcades, stalls and markets to satisfy your every whim (within reason!). Supermarket own brands are often much cheaper, so shop around! Kirkgate Market is in Leeds City Centre and has many stalls which sell meat, fish and fresh produce. Fresh vegetables in season can be very cheap. There is a large Butchers Row where lean, cheap cuts of meat are available.
The cost of living in Leeds is lower than in other parts of the UK, particularly London and the South. Don't forget that you'll also get a NUS student discount at many shops, restaurants, cinemas, clubs and you can also take advantage of the Leeds Card, offering a huge range of benefits for a small annual fee. An International Student Identity card (ISIC) can also give you discounts on national and international travel. Contact the Student Union at either the Headingley or City Campus for more information about these discount schemes, or visit www.nus.org.uk or www.isic.org
Annual Living Costs
In addition to tuition fees, we recommend that you budget to cover other costs, including accommodation, food, transport and social activities. Please see below guidance for further information.
Tuition Fees *£9,500
Accommodation: £3,544 - £7,200
Living expenses: £7,200
Total: £20,244 - £23,900
*Fees shown based on undergraduate for September 2013
Many international students live in privately rented accommodation. You must remember that signed contracts are legally binding. You cannot change your mind after signing a contract on a house or a flat. Private accommodation is popular and can often be cheaper than University accommodation but be careful! To avoid problems contact staff at the Students’ Union -they will check your contract for you before you sign.
When budgeting for accommodation, it is important to be aware of all the charges landlords may ask for:
- Deposit - Most landlords require a deposit of one month's rent. This should be returned at the end of your tenancy providing the property has not been damaged in any way. This is the joint responsibility of all tenants.
- Rent - This is normally paid on a termly or monthly basis and contracts are usually offered for 12 months. The first month’s rent is usually paid in advance along with the deposit. Prices vary widely depending on the area.
- Insurance - Most insurance companies have special policies for students. Comprehensive Insurance including medical expenses, personal liability, personal injury, reimbursement of fees in case of prolonged serious illness is available to international students through Endsleigh, ISIS. Compare policies and costs before you enter into an insurance contract.
A pre-paid monthly pass gives unlimited travel on buses and trains around West Yorkshire. Find out more about available travel passes from the WY Metro website.
If you are offered a place on a course, your offer letter will contain details of your tuition fees. You will be expected to pay a minimum of 50% of your fees at the start of the course. If you require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number to obtain a visa to study in the UK, before a CAS number can be issued to you, you will need to either:
1. Pay a minimum of 50% of your first year tuition fees to Leeds Beckett University, or
2. Send a copy of your official Sponsor Letter to email@example.com if you are a sponsored student (Sponsored Students are students who are sponsored by a government, employer or other official organisation. You are not a sponsored student if a family member or friend is providing you with financial assistance).
Click here to find out how you can pay your fees.
Click here to view our University bank details.
For more information please contact our Financial Services Office on +44 (0)113 81 25950.
Students from EU member states
If you are offered a place on a course, your offer letter will contain details of your tuition fees. EU students are not required to pay 50% of your tuition fees at the start of the course.
Like UK students, EU students have two options for payment of fees. Payment of your fees can either be made up front or you may be eligible for a non-means tested tuition fee loan from the UK government. For more information visit: www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/UniversityAndHigherEducation/StudentFinance
EU students studying in the UK for one semester only will be treated as part-time students for fee purposes. Exchange students, including students on the EU's Socrates Erasmus programme, will not be charged fees.
Payment of your fees can be made using the following methods:
- credit card
- postal order
- bank to bank transfer
We are also working to set-up an online payment facility. For more information please contact the Financial Services Office on +44 113 812 5950.
Withdrawal from Study
Students withdrawing from their course or programme of study must give immediate written notification at the time of their withdrawal to their School/Centre Office. Where notification is received after the end of the first semester the student/sponsor will be charged the full annual fee.
You will be responsible for paying certain bills, if you are living in privately rented accommodation.
- Gas and Electricity - You will receive bills for these amenities every three months. Rent often includes an amount for water rates but not for gas and electricity. Make sure gas and electricity meters are read on the day you move in. Ensure that all the people sharing the house are named on the bill, not just you. Make arrangements to pay your bills on a monthly budget plan. This will help you budget for the year. You can contact British Gas here: www.britishgas.co.uk/Help_Advice/ContactUs/?bglink_id=i10096 and Yorkshire Electricity here: www.npower.com/home/customerservices/contact-customer-services/index.htm
- Water - If water rates are not included with your rent, you will receive a separate bill. The annual charge can usually be paid by 8 monthly instalments. You can contact Yorkshire Water by telephoning 0845 1 24 24 24
- Telephone - It is important to budget carefully for telephone calls, particularly if you are going to make calls to friends and family who live overseas. Itemised bills have to paid every 3 months. A telephone for incoming calls only can help to control expenditure. British Telecom will switch your phone onto this system by request at no extra charge. All these services may be cut off if bills are not paid on time.
- Television Licence - If you want to watch TV in your Halls Of Residence room, or in a flat or house, you MUST get a TV licence. It is illegal to use a television without one and can result in you being taken to court and being fined up to £1,000! If you live in a shared rented house/flat then you may share a TV licence with the people you live with. If you are a lodger, or rent a room in a house separately from everyone else, then you must get your own licence. TV licences can NOT be bought from Post Offices anymore. Go to www.tvlicensing.co.uk to buy one online.
As an International student you are NOT allowed to use public funds. Under the Immigration Rules "public funds" include the following: Housing and Homelessness Assistance, Attendance Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Invalid Care Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Income Support, Working Families' Tax Credit, Disabled Person's Tax Credit, a social fund payment, Council Tax Benefit, Child Benefit, income-based Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit. You can download the UKCISA guide ‘Welfare Benefits’ from: http://ukcisa.org.uk/student/info_sheets/welfare.php
More information on international students' access to help in unexpected, emergency financial difficulties can be provided by the Student Financial Advisers, the International Student Advice Centre and the Students' Union Advice office. The UKCISA guideline on ‘Financial Hardship’ can be found at: http://ukcisa.org.uk/student/info_sheets/financial_hardship.php
Council Tax is a local tax payable by householders or tenants. International students on full-time courses living in a hall of residence or in a student-only private household will not have to pay any Council Tax. If your dependents are living with you and are subject to immigration control, they will be exempt from paying Council Tax, as will you, provided there are no other persons sharing with you who are not students. If you are a joint-tenant and share a house with non-students, all tenants will have to share payment of the Council Tax bill, including yourself.
The University will provide you with a Council Tax Exemption Certificate. Council Tax exemption forms can be accessed using the Student Portal. If you live in Leeds you can use the Leeds City Council website to register your exemption, or pay your bill. If you live outside of Leeds use the Directgov website to find your local council.
If you have received a letter from your council, please contact them via phone or through their website. Please ask for advice if you are uncertain of your obligations and rights. You can also download the UKCISA guideline ‘Council Tax and International Students’ from http://ukcisa.org.uk/student/info_sheets/council_tax.php
Information given here is intended as a guide for international students and is given in good faith. Care has been taken in compiling the information, however, the University accepts no legal responsibility for its accuracy.
Designated officer authorised to provide immigration advice and services by an order made under section 84 (4) (d) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and regulated by the Immigration Services Commissioner.