Staying Safe in the UK: an International Student’s Guide

Whether you’re coming from a bit city or a small town, studying in another country is always daunting and you (and your parents) might be worried about your safety in the UK.

However, you can rest assured knowing that on the whole, the UK is a very safe place to live and study. To help you avoid getting into any difficult situations, we’ve put together this short guide on staying safe in the UK for international students.

No matter where you are in the world, knowing how to keep yourself safe is vital and taking a few minutes to read some safety tips before travelling could make all the difference.

Registering with the police when you arrive

Some international students need to register with the police within seven days of arriving in the UK. There will be a stamp in your passport which will tell you if you need to do this.

Some universities, often with higher numbers of international students, arrange registration days on campus to make it easy for you to do this.

You can find more information about registering with the police here.

Living in safe accommodation

At many universities, international students are given priority when it comes to student halls and other university-owned accommodation.

If this isn’t the case, your university should be able to provide you with a list of approved accommodation providers or details of private companies they partner with to offer student accommodation.

You can research the crime statistics for the area you’re going to be living in and be sure to thoroughly read the tenancy agreement before you sign it to understand the terms you’re agreeing to.

Safety out and about

The UK streets are generally very safe places to be and the vast majority of international students won’t experience any problems during their entire time at university.

However, be sure to walk down well-lit routes, facing the traffic (remember cars may drive on the opposite side of the road than in your home country), and use licensed taxis or public transport wherever possible.

It’s always better to be in a pair or group, particularly if you’re travelling at night, and agree with friends to ensure that you all get home safely.

Staying safe on a night out

All of the above advice applies if you’re going out with friends socialising, but there are some additional things to consider. For example:

  • Never accept drinks from strangers or leave them unattended to avoid the risk of your drink being “spiked” with drugs or alcohol
  • Avoid drinking alcohol excessively and know your limits – don’t be pressured into drinking more than you can handle by friends
  • Plan your journey home – it’s not always easy to find a taxi at 3am and public transport rarely operates 24 hours a day
  • Be aware of other people when using a cash machine (ATM) and don’t use one in a poorly lit area
  • Avoid confrontation and don’t be afraid to approach venue staff for help if you feel other customers are hassling you or giving you unwanted attention
  • Stick together – stay with friends at all times and don’t go on to different venues without each other

A word about alcohol: as we’ve said above, know your limits and avoid alcohol to excess.

As a student, particularly one studying in a different country, it can be tempting to make the most of your new freedom, but it’s also important to look after yourself.

Always follow the golden rules of alcohol consumption:

  1. Eat a proper meal before you go out for the evening or before you start drinking
  2. Have a soft drink or water between each alcoholic drink
  3. Drink your alcoholic drinks slowly to avoid suddenly becoming intoxicated
  4. Drink in moderation – there are no prizes for being the most drunk person on a night out