Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Living in the UK

The International Office will be hosting online pre-departure briefings in August (for September starters) and November (for January starters), which will give you all the information you need about what to bring with you, and what you can leave at home. You'll receive more information by email closer to the time.

If you have been granted a student visa to study at ARU, the sticker in your passport will only give you a visa for 90 days to travel to the UK.

When you arrive, you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (visa) from the iCentre on your campus, or the Post Office you selected on your visa application.

This card is your visa and lasts for the duration of your studies. Please do keep it safe, as there is a cost to get it replaced.

In comparison to some countries, the UK appears to be an expensive place to live. However, with sensible planning and budgeting, you should find it affordable to live and study here. Until you get used to the cost of living here in the UK, you will need to plan and keep to a budget.

To help you plan for your time in the UK and budget accordingly, the British Council provide an example breakdown of living costs, although these may be more expensive if you live in London, Cambridge, or Chelmsford as rents can be higher than the national average.

The British Council also provide a handy list of ways to save money in the UK.

We have put together an example budget below. This shows the minimum funds that you would need for one academic year. Don’t forget that your own budget should reflect your own priorities.

Example budget – approximate average costs per 40-week academic calendar (Sept-June)

  • Accommodation: £6,800
  • Food: £2,000
  • Clothing/books/telephone/socialising/travel with the UK, etc: £2,050
  • Total: £10,850
  • Approximate monthly budget: £1,000

Example grocery prices

  • Loaf of bread: from £0.80
  • Pint of milk: from £0.90
  • 1kg dried pasta: from £2.50
  • 1kg rice: from £3
  • 1.5l bottled water: from £0.85
  • Takeaway coffee: from £2.50

You do not need to visit a bank in person to open a UK bank account – it can all be done online.

To open a bank account with Lloyds Bank, you do not need a letter from ARU if you have collected your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If you are an EU/EEA student without a BRP, you will need to show your passport.

To apply for a Lloyds account, complete Lloyds' application form and upload your documents.

To open a bank account with any other bank in the UK, you will need a letter from ARU. You can request this from the iCentre on your campus after you have completed your registration and arrived in the UK.

For information on opening an account with online-only banks such as Monzo, Starling and Revolut, visit their websites.

If your student visa lasts for more than six months, you are entitled to use the National Health Service (NHS) for free.

We highly recommend that students register with a doctor – also known as a General Practitioner (GP) – as soon as they arrive in the UK.

Our Cambridge and Chelmsford campuses have their own Medical Centres. Once you have completed your registration at ARU, you can register for these via our My ARU student portal.

Alternatively, if you are living off-campus, you can register at a doctor’s surgery closer to where you are living.

If you are coming to ARU for less than six months, from a country that does not have a reciprocal health agreement, you should organise private medical insurance before you travel.

If you plan to drive a car or motorbike in the UK you need to make sure that you meet all the legal requirements. You must:

  • Have a driving licence, valid for use in the UK. Most international licences are only valid for 12 months and then you must take a UK driving test.
  • Be the minimum age to drive a vehicle, which is 17 for cars and between 17-21 for different types of motorcycle.
  • Have valid car insurance.
  • Have paid an annual road tax.
  • Have a valid MOT certificate for your car (motor vehicles must pass a MOT test every year).
  • Wear a seatbelt/helmet.
  • Drive on the left-hand side.
  • Keep to the speed limits as displayed on the road signage.
  • Not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Driving offences can result in a period of disqualification of at least 12 months, an endorsement on your licence, and a punishment ranging from a fine to a period of imprisonment in more serious cases. This can have visa implications for any future visa applications.

Find out more about driving in the UK.