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Travelling to the UK to study

Coming to the UK to study is an exciting experience, and the journey here is the first part of the adventure. If you plan ahead, your journey can be smooth and hassle free. However, if you do not plan carefully you may find that you encounter problems.

At Study Links, we are often asked for our advice by students planning their journey. We have put together some handy tips so you can make sure that your journey is as problem free as possible.

When booking a plane ticket…

  • Always travel on the schools recommended travel day
  • Never book tickets to leave before term ends or after you are required to be back in school as it disrupts your education and can upset school staff.
  • Book flights in advance and let your school and guardian know immediately so that transport to and from the airport can be booked and confirmed in advance. If you notify the school or guardian’s office on a weekend or public holiday that the student will arrive the next day, the staff may be on holiday and no one will be available to check your message and arrange airport transport.
  • Your arrival time in the UK should not be very late at night as some schools will not be able to accept you into school late at night. Arrival late at night might result in you having to stay in a homestay overnight. Even an early evening flight arrival can be too late if the airport is far from the school or if the flight is delayed.
  • Your arrival time in the UK should not be very early in the morning as some schools do not accept students back to school until later in the day. Arrival early in the morning might result in you having to stay in a homestay for part of the day until the school opens. Some schools will not let the student in if they arrive too early!

Which airport should you chose?

  • Whenever possible, choose the airport nearest to your school. Do not just choose London airport because it is big and famous and there are direct flights from your own city. There can be serious road traffic delays due to accidents or bad weather for students travelling from distant parts of the UK to London airport, which could result in you missing the flight. To avoid the danger of road traffic delays it is best to get a transit plane to the local airport closest to the school.

When should you book an Unaccompanied Minor (UM) ticket?

  • If you are under 16 year old check if you need to travel as an Unaccompanied Minor (UM) when you purchase the plane ticket. Different airlines have different rules and the rules frequently change. You need to check the rules of all the airlines used including short transit sections of the journey.  If UM service is required by the airline they may not allow you on the flight without it and this will cause great distress at the airport, as some airlines will not accept cash payments at the airport and will only accept purchase of the service through the travel agency where the ticket was booked. (Due to the time difference between countries it may not be possible to contact the travel agent before the flight departs).
  • If you book UM service you must let your school and guardian know in advance and provide the details of who will be collecting them from the airport in your own country. There is an extra transport charge for a student using the UM service because the driver needs to stay with the student in the airport for a longer period, this incurs extra waiting time and car parking charges.

Points to consider when whilst travelling to the UK

  • Make sure you are carrying all important documents together with your passport. At the airport, the border & immigration control may ask to see (1) a letter from the school proving you are studying at the school (2) a letter with the guardian’s details. The immigration officers at the airport frequently phone our office to confirm if the information provided by students is correct.
  • You should always switch on your phone as soon as they arrive in the UK and let the guardian know if they you delayed.
  • Always carry the guardian’s phone number so you can contact the guardian for emergency help.

We hope that you find these tips useful. If you do have any more questions, or you need any help booking your transport we are always happy for you to contact us.


Angela (1)

Angela Fan, Director at Study Links

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