• Hannah

5 top tips for International students coming to St Andrews in 2020

Maybe you've decided that the University of St Andrews is the right choice for you. Or maybe you've seen that St Andrews is marked second and has come out on top of Oxford in The Guardian's 2020 University League tables, and you're wondering what all the fuss is about? Whether or not you have decided that the University of St Andrews is the right university for you, we will summarise why St Andrews is such a popular place to study for both UK and international students, and 5 handy top tips for international students coming to St Andrews in 2020.

A bit about the University of St Andrews

The Times has crowned St Andrews as the top UK university and has awarded it "University of the Year 2020", with emphasis on its high quality of teaching and significant student satisfaction. The university has been praised for its highly diverse multicultural and international student body, with over 45% of students coming from the EU, the US and other overseas countries.  St Andrews is highly popular, with over 11 applications being made every year per single university place, and is highly competitive, accepting less than half of the students that apply each year.

Why is St Andrews such a popular place to study?

Aside from their prestige and League Table rankings, St Andrews has a few notable alumni including Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate. Amongst other well-known alumni, John Witherspoon, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence in the United States and James Wilson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, brings an international history to the university. In addition to their historical notoriety, St Andrews boasts the some of the happiest students, with more than 90% of current students saying they are satisfied with their courses and the quality of the teaching on offer. Quite unlike Oxford and Cambridge down south, St Andrews is a smaller University in a beautiful Scottish town with the North Sea on one side and farmland on the other and only a 10,000 student capacity. This can make it a popular choice with international students, as it's a beautiful place to live and study and has the benefit of being less than 90 minutes from an international airport.

I'm an international student and I'm coming to study at St Andrews, what do I need to know?

If you're decided, and want to be prepared for your move to St Andrews, there are a few things you should think about so that you are prepared to live in Scotland and can focus on your studies when you get here. Living in the UK may be quite different, but hopefully, you are excited and looking forward to the adventure. Let us take you through our 5 top tips for International students coming to St Andrews this year.

1. Budgeting the cost of living as a student in St Andrews

Beyond your tuition fees, you will need to consider the costs of living in St Andrews including residence, food, travel and immigration fees. Knowing what costs you can expect will help you to plan your finances.  Which? University website has a student budget calculator for St Andrews, to help you to estimate the cost of living, from accommodation and bills to clothing, interests and hobbies. Take a look at their website for more information here: You can use their website as a guide to create your own budget and estimate roughly what you need to be saving in order to live in St Andrews during your study. Remember to factor in any time you will be returning home, as this may be an additional travel cost, or you may not need to pay for accommodation during this time.

2. Banking and opening a bank account

It's a good idea to open up a UK bank account once you arrive in St Andrews so that you can access cash via a cash machine and set up direct debits or standing orders for your bills.  Most banks will be happy to provide a bank account to an overseas student whilst they are studying in the UK. It may also be possible for you to open up a student bank account, which will provide you with additional services such as overdraft facilities or a credit card.  Choose a bank with a branch in St Andrews, in case you need to transfer funds or you have a problem with your account. You would be able to nip in when you have some spare time and get this sorted out if need be. There are five banks in St Andrews: The Royal Bank of Scotland Bank of Scotland TSB Barclays Nationwide All of the above have arrangements with overseas banks, meaning it should be relatively easy for you to open an account with one of these banks. To open a bank account you will need to take your passport, an appropriate visa and a letter from the university, which can be downloaded via MySaint, the student portal. There may be an option to apply online before you come to St Andrews, which may also help to speed up the process of opening a bank account when you arrive.

3. Communication; sort out mobile and internet access

Most students who come to St Andrews will bring a phone with them. In the UK, you need a SIM card in order to connect to a network and to make telephone calls and connect to the internet.  Most grocery stores and phone shops will be able to provide you with a SIM card and mobile internet services to use whilst in the UK. In addition, your accommodation may provide WIFI for a fee, so it is worth checking before you move. The University of St Andrews also has their own WIFI which students are welcome to use whilst they are studying in any of the campuses or libraries, which should save you money on your mobile bill.

4. Transport in and around St Andrews

Once in St Andrews, you are in close proximity to the local buildings and shops. This means that you can walk most places pretty easily. As St Andrews can be easily reached from a number of major cities via public transport or taxis, a lot of international students choose not to drive whilst staying in St Andrews. If you do want to drive, and you have a full current driving license in your home country, you are allowed to drive in the UK for up to one year after you first come to the UK. After that, the rules will depend based on which country you have come from. The University map shows all the key locations you need to know within St Andrews and can be located here: If you would like to visit other places whilst in St Andrews, there are a number of convenient bus and train services locally that can take you north towards Inverness and Aberdeen, and south to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

UK bus service information can be found here:

UK train service information can be found here:

5. Healthcare and medication

Arguably the most important tip is to take care of your health and wellbeing whilst studying at St Andrews. It is important to register with a doctor in St Andrews at the start of your studies, and information can be found about registering with an NHS GP here: Whether or not you choose to use the National Health Service, it is still important that you register with the NHS. Dr Langford will go into a bit more detail about why this is important in the below video.

Choosing your healthcare provider

All students studying at St Andrews should ensure that they are registered with one of the two local NHS medical practices.  Information on registering with an NHS practice can be found here: If you need to use a medical service, you can choose from your local NHS GP or alternatively you have the option of private medical care. If you wish to access private health services, you can visit us anytime in St Andrews. We are based in Croftwell Clinic, Prior Muir in St Andrews, and we are a less than 10 minutes taxi drive from the town centre. View directions here:


If you are already using medication prescribed from a doctor in another country, you may be unable to get this same medication in the UK. It is important that international students make sure they discuss the move to the UK with their home doctor. Your doctor will then be able to check for you if your medication is licensed for the UK. If necessary, you can then discuss alternative medications with your doctor, as it may be possible to change to the UK version of your drug whilst studying in the UK. If you decide that you would like to change to a UK version of your medication and be supervised by a UK doctor in St Andrews, it is important that you bring a 3 month supply of your current medication into the UK. This is because it may take some time to obtain certain types of medication in the UK, so be sure to meet a doctor in St Andrews as soon as you can once you've arrived. Be aware that although you can bring a limited supply of your medication with you when you come to the UK, a UK doctor cannot supervise medication prescribed by a doctor in another country, and it is illegal to have prescription medication mailed to you from any country. It is for this reason that you try to arrange an alternative or a prescription in the UK as soon as you can.  You have a couple of options when it comes to medication prescriptions in St Andrews. When you arrive in the UK, you can arrange your prescription with one of the NHS practices in St Andrews, either Pipeland or Blackfriars surgeries. Alternatively, if you'd prefer you can contact Vaila Health before you arrive and we can arrange your first consultation with a private GP, and make arrangements for your current or alternative prescription medication.

Follow this link to contact us about your medication:


Before you arrive, it is important you check that you are vaccinated. If you are going to university for the first time, you must contact your GP or Physician to ensure that you have had the MenACWY vaccine. This must be arranged as soon as possible if you have not. Alternatively, you can have the vaccination once you are in the UK if it is not available to you beforehand. You should also get the MMR vaccine before you come to the UK. It is important that you check with your GP or physician if you have had this, and if not, get it before you leave for the UK. Organising these vaccinations keeps you and your fellow students and faculty members safe from contracting Meningitis or Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

In summary

Moving to the UK for study can be an exciting adventure. It can also be a bit unnerving, as you are moving to a new country and you might not know anyone yet, or have any idea of what Scotland is like to live in. Familiarising yourself with a few aspects of UK life before you arrive will help you settle in more quickly and reduce the chances of something going wrong. Our 5 top tips should hopefully help you to create a budget for living in the UK, and help you to familiarise yourself with transport, communication, the cost of living, opening a bank account and how to obtain healthcare whilst you are here. If you have any questions on any of the information above or would like to find out more why not give us a call on 0333 577 5999 or email us at

Further reading 

If you would like to find out more about who we are and what we do, visit our blog! We have included a load of handy hints and tips to stay healthy in St Andrews:


Vaila Health | Perth, St Andrews & Dundee

033 577 5999 |


0333 577 5999

Croftwell Clinic, Prior Muir, St Andrews, KY16 8LP
Tay MediSpa Clinic, 53-55 York Place, Perth, PH2 8EH

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Vaila Health is not an emergency service. If you have concerns about a serious urgent medical condition such as a Heart attack, Stroke or Meningitis then please dial 999 or go straight to A&E. © 2020 Vaila Health, All Rights Reserved

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