Preparation for Studying Abroad in the UK

Today, I finally received my unconditional offer from Glasgow University. I'm starting this thread to document the process of obtaining the unconditional offer and the subsequent visa application. Additionally, Glasgow University officially announced last month that some programs would be delayed and start in January 2021. This includes all programs in the School of Computing Science, so I'll be staying at home for the rest of the year.

This post was translated from my Chinese blog post with the aid of ChatGpt.

Accommodation Booking

When it comes to choosing accommodation for studying in the UK, there are several options available: on-campus dorms (or official university accommodation), shared houses, and off-campus student apartments. Most people tend to opt for off-campus student apartments as they are more convenient, include utilities (water, electricity, etc.), and are generally considered safer compared to houses. Apartments come in two main types: En-suite and Studio. En-suite typically consists of suites with 4-6 bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom, while sharing a kitchen and common area, similar to shared housing in other countries. Studio apartments are single rooms with their own kitchen and bathroom, resembling a self-contained unit. Studios offer better privacy and are quieter compared to En-suite, though they can be relatively more expensive.

Usually, once you receive your offer, you can start booking your accommodation. It’s recommended to book as early as possible to secure better rates and have more options to choose from. Look for apartments that do not require a deposit; this way, if you change your plans, you can either sublet or cancel without complications.

Popular student apartments near the University of Glasgow include West View, West Village, Vita, KC, TS, DM, and others. Below is a comparison sourced from the Glasgow CS WeChat group (Image courtesy of an anonymous source).


To book accommodation, you can visit the apartment’s official website directly or use intermediaries. Two common intermediaries are “异乡好居” and “学旅家.” I went with “学旅家,” and both intermediaries claim to offer some sort of cashback, though I’m not sure when I’ll receive it. More updates on this later.

Obtaining Unconditional Offer (Uncon)

Before undergraduate graduation, everyone’s offer is usually conditional. After graduating, you need to collect any missing documents, scan them into PDF format, and upload them to the application system. Then, you can wait for the unconditional offer (uncon) to be issued. I uploaded all my documents on June 24th and found my uncon in the application system on July 7th. I received the email on the early morning of July 8th. Typically, during the graduation season, it may take longer to obtain an uncon because there are many people applying for it.

The scanned documents required for obtaining an uncon include:

  • Original graduation certificate
  • Original degree certificate
  • Translated version of the graduation certificate (you can translate it yourself and stamp it with the school’s seal; no need to include photos)
  • Translated version of the degree certificate (same as above)
  • English transcript including all courses
  • Chinese transcript including all courses (this may vary depending on the specific university; for Glasgow, I only uploaded the English transcript)

Below are the translated versions of my graduation certificate and degree certificate. Unfortunately, the format cannot be adjusted, so you may need to check them using Microsoft Word. You can access them through Baidu Cloud with the following link and password:

Password: uwbt


Bachelor’s Degree Certificate

This is to certify that XXX, male, born on June 26, 1997, has completed an undergraduate program in Architecture at XXXXX University and graduated. According to Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Academic Degrees, he is awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science in Architecture.

Chairman of Degree Evaluation Committee: Xxxxx Xxx XXXXX University
Certificate No.: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX June 18th, 2020


Graduation Certificate

XXX XXX, male, born on June 26, 1997, studied a five-year program in Architecture at our school from September 2015 to June 2020. Having completed all courses specified in the teaching plan and passed the examinations, he is allowed to graduate.

School: XXXXX University President: Xxxxx Xxx
Certificate No.: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX June 12th, 2020


The deposit is a measure used by the UK government to determine if you have enough financial capability to complete your studies. The specific process involves obtaining a bank statement as proof of funds. During the visa application, the bank statement may be randomly checked, and if selected, you will receive an email notification.

  • The required deposit amount is approximately 300,000 RMB. The specific amount is calculated based on your tuition fees and nine months’ worth of living expenses in your area. To be safe, it’s recommended to add a few thousand pounds on top of this calculated amount. The standard monthly living expenses in London are 1,265 pounds, while in other areas, it’s 1,015 pounds.
  • Generally, it’s advised to keep the funds in a fixed-term deposit account and set up an automatic rollover.
  • After maintaining the deposit for 28 days, you can book your visa appointment online.
  • Then, a few days before your visa appointment, go to the bank to obtain a bank statement and bank transaction records. You don’t need to do this too early because the gap between the bank statement’s issuance date and the online visa appointment booking date should not exceed 31 days.
  • You can keep a mix of GBP and RMB as long as the total amount is sufficient.
  • It’s best to keep the funds in your name. If the funds are under your parents’ names, you may need to provide additional proof of the parent-child relationship and authorization to use the funds.
  • It’s recommended to choose a major bank like ICBC, ABC, CCB, or Bank of China. It’s not advisable to use rural credit cooperatives or similar institutions.
  • You cannot use financial products as a substitute for the required deposit.


Currency Exchange

Before going to the UK, it’s advisable to exchange some British pounds (GBP) in advance at a local bank. After arriving in the UK, you can transfer the money to your local bank account through cross-border remittance. Here is some information:

  • When purchasing GBP, you have two options: 现汇 (current exchange rate) and 现钞 (cash exchange rate). 现汇 means the money is deposited in your bank account, while 现钞 means you receive physical cash.
  • Typically, you will purchase GBP in the 现汇 form, which means the money will be deposited into your bank account.
  • Before departing, you can exchange a small amount of 现钞 as emergency funds upon arrival. You don’t need to exchange too much because customs regulations do not allow carrying foreign currency equivalent to more than $5,000 USD out of the country.
  • The annual exchange limit per person is $50,000 USD.
  • When exchanging currency, pay attention to the 购汇汇率 (purchase exchange rate) rather than the 结汇汇率 (sell exchange rate). The 购汇汇率 is the rate at which you buy GBP from the bank, while the 结汇汇率 is the rate at which you sell GBP to the bank.
  • It’s advisable to monitor the exchange rate daily, just in case the GBP falls to 8.1 or lower.
  • Interest rates for GBP fixed-term deposits are very low, with a three-month deposit rate of only 0.1%. In contrast, the interest rate for RMB is 1.35%.
  • There is a risk of your cross-border remittance being blocked, so it’s recommended to leave your ID and bank card with your parents before going abroad as a precaution.
  • After exchanging currency, you can use your mobile banking app to make an appointment to pick up cash at the bank branch. I exchanged 1,000 GBP and received mostly 50-pound banknotes in my small city. In larger cities, you may receive smaller denominations like 5-pound or 10-pound notes.

Tuberculosis (TB) Test

A tuberculosis (TB) test is a necessary requirement when applying for a T4 visa, and it can typically be done two to three months before applying for your visa. Here are some important details:

  • The TB test must be done at designated hospitals; otherwise, it will not be valid. There are 15 approved hospitals for TB testing, and you can find their addresses and contact information on the official visa website.
  • The cost of the TB test is approximately 550 RMB, and payment can be made in cash or through Alipay. Other payment methods like medical insurance cards, credit cards, or alternative payment options are not accepted.
  • You should make an appointment in advance, usually one or two working days ahead of time.
  • There are two ways to make an appointment: by phone or by email. Some hospitals (e.g., the Jinan Immigration Examination Center) may also allow online appointment booking.
  • There is no need to be fasting; you can have a regular meal before the test.
  • Documents required for the test include:
    • Your passport with at least six months of validity. No other documents are accepted.
    • One copy of your passport.
    • Two passport-sized photos (35mmx45mm) taken within the last six months, showing your entire face, including eyebrows and ears.
  • The process is relatively quick and takes about half an hour. You will change into a gown, have a chest X-ray taken, and answer some medical history questions by the doctor.
  • If your test results are normal, you can receive the certificate on the same day if you had the test in the morning. If you had the test in the afternoon, you will need to return the following morning to collect the certificate.
  • You can collect the certificate in person by presenting your passport. If this is not convenient, you can choose to have it sent to you via express mail, but the cost will be your responsibility.
  • The certificate is usually valid for six months, although in some cases, it may be valid for three months.
  • If any issues arise during the test, the hospital may require you to do a sputum culture test, which can be a lengthy process, taking up to two months. However, if you believe you are in good health, it’s advisable to seek testing at another hospital rather than mentioning previous testing at a different hospital (source: Zhihu).
  • For the UK address on your certificate, you can use your school address, or you can choose not to fill in this section, which should not have any significant impact.

Here’s my record of getting the TB test on October 13th in Jinan:

  • The TB test in Jinan is conducted at the Overseas Immigration Medical Examination Center of Shandong University Third Hospital. The address is 38 Wuyingshan Road, Tianqiao District. You’ll notice a red-roofed building on your right as you enter.
  • I arrived at 7:45 AM, and there was a security check at the hospital entrance to measure body temperature.
  • When I arrived, there were only three people in line. Inside the examination center, show your ID and health code, then take a number from the machine at the entrance.
  • After obtaining a number, you’ll receive two forms and undergo another temperature check. A staff member will write your temperature in the upper right corner of the form. Feel free to ask the staff any questions during this process.
  • Once you’ve filled out the forms, you’ll wait until 8:30 AM. Then, you’ll have your picture taken with your passport, and you’ll receive a black and white photo.
  • After the photo, you’ll proceed to wait for your number to be called. When your number is called, take your documents to the innermost service counter.
  • Hand over your passport, a copy of your passport, the black and white photo, two passport-sized photos, and the two completed forms to the staff.
  • They will take your photo again and ask you to sign a form.
  • Then, make the payment, which can be done using Alipay or cash.
  • After payment, the staff will return your passport, give you a wristband, which is used to open the lockers, and direct you to the dressing area.
  • Remove all jewelry, put on the blue gown provided, and leave everything else in the locker. You should only bring your passport and the wristband outside.
  • A staff member will instruct you on which room to go to for the test. You’ll need to make a hands on hips pose and place your shoulders against a machine. Then, you’ll take a deep breath and hold it until you’re told it’s okay to exhale.
  • After the test, return to the dressing area, change back into your regular clothes, and deposit the blue gown in the designated container.
  • A staff member in the hallway will direct you to another room where a doctor will ask you some questions about your medical history. Then, you’ll take off your mask for a photo.
  • After this, leave the examination center with the staff member, and at the front desk, return your wristband.
  • The staff mentioned that due to the COVID-19 situation, the results wouldn’t be available until the next afternoon (after 3 PM). However, in reality, I received my results at around 4:30 PM on the same day. You can call to confirm the exact time.

International Travel Health Certificate

Regarding the International Travel Health Certificate, which includes vaccination records, there seems to be some confusion about whether it’s necessary. These certificates are commonly referred to as 小红本 (Little Red Book) and 小黄本 (Little Yellow Book) in China. Based on current information, both are optional. There is a very low probability of being checked for these certificates upon entry to the UK. If you are checked and don’t have them, you may undergo a brief free health examination upon arrival, which takes about half an hour. It’s also worth noting that there haven’t been any reports of travelers being specifically checked for vaccination records.

Given this, you may choose not to obtain these certificates.



To apply for a visa, you need to wait for your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) to become available. CAS is typically issued three months before the start of your course. Before applying for your visa, you must book an appointment online. The student visa is the renamed version of the previous Tier 4 visa. Please note that the user experience for booking appointments on the UK visa application website in China is generally poor.

You can book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) via the following link:

Appointment Booking Website

For detailed guidance on the appointment booking process, you can refer to @PhD威宇‘s Weibo article: Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for a T4 Visa. Although it focuses on the T4 visa, the general steps are similar to those for the student visa.

Make sure to download the checklist.

Once you’ve completed your visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) payment, you’ll be redirected to the VFS website. This site is used for uploading documents and scheduling your appointment date and location. There are some additional fee-based services you can choose from. Please be aware that this website may have various bugs, and it’s highly recommended to use a global proxy server to access it effectively.

For the student visa, you generally need to upload only two documents, as indicated in the checklist:

  • Passport information page
  • Tuberculosis (TB) test report

It’s advisable to upload your documents in advance on the website to avoid a scanning fee if you choose to submit them at the VAC. Some VACs (e.g., Jinan) may also charge a service fee of approximately 500 RMB, which can be paid on the VFS website.

When booking an appointment, you can periodically check for earlier slots. I initially scheduled my appointment for the 23rd but later found slots for the 14th and 16th. I was able to change my appointment to an earlier date on the website at no extra cost.

Visa Application Submission

When I went to submit my visa application, I brought the following documents with me:

  • Passport original
  • Checklist
  • Appointment Confirmation Notice
  • Original TB test report

The documents that the visa center staff collected from me were:

  • Passport original
  • First page of the checklist
  • Appointment Confirmation Notice

Here is the process I followed when submitting my application in Jinan. I arrived at the center at 12:13 PM and finished at 12:25 PM:

  • The Jinan Visa Application Center is located on the 5th floor of the Beijing Bank Building at No. 11890 Jingshi Road, Lixia District, Jinan City.
  • Enter through the south gate of the Beijing Bank Building. At the entrance, show your health code and have your temperature checked by security.
  • Scan the QR code on the desktop sign with WeChat to register your personal information, including your name and phone number.
  • Take the number 4 elevator (the one furthest inside to the right) to the 5th floor.
  • After exiting the elevator, you’ll see staff members at the counter who will ask if you’re here for a visa application. They will then escort you to the entrance of the Visa Application Center. After another temperature check, you will go through a security gate to enter.
  • Once inside, present your passport, checklist, and appointment notice to the staff. They will ask for your name and birthdate and give you a numbered slip.
  • Wait for your number to be called. There are several rows of chairs on the left, and TV screens hanging on pillars will display the queue information.
  • If there are not many people, the staff may ask you to proceed directly to a counter. At the counter, submit your passport, checklist, and notice.
  • The staff will inquire about whether you want to apply for expedited processing, whether you prefer to collect your passport in person or via courier, and, if you opt for courier delivery, they will give you an EMS courier form to fill out. The cost for this service is 80 RMB and can be paid in cash with change given.
  • The staff didn’t mention the SMS service during my application, and it appears to have limited utility.
  • Afterward, the staff will return all unnecessary documents to you. If you’ve opted for courier delivery, you will receive an EMS courier receipt.
  • Wait for your number to be called again, and when it’s your turn, proceed to Room 7 for photo and fingerprinting.
  • Begin by providing your name and birthdate. Then, remove your glasses and mask for a photo.
  • Next, your fingerprints will be taken. First, the four fingers of your right hand will be scanned together, followed by the four fingers of your left hand. Finally, both thumbs will be scanned together.
  • After completing these steps, you will receive a receipt and can leave the center.
  • If you choose courier delivery, you’ll wait for your passport to be returned to you.

Booking Flights

I booked my flight through Ctrip, but you can also purchase tickets directly from the airline’s official website or by calling them.

It’s advisable to book your flight well in advance because ticket prices tend to be lower. I personally witnessed the price of my ticket increase from 4,200 RMB to 5,500 RMB, and it has now risen to 15,000 RMB. I purchased my ticket when it was priced at 5,500 RMB, and the next day it increased to 15,000 RMB.

Most students buy what are known as international student tickets, which typically come with extra baggage allowances. These tickets usually include two pieces of checked luggage, each weighing no more than 23kg, and one piece of carry-on luggage, not exceeding 20 inches. Initially, I thought I needed a visa to purchase an international student ticket, so I missed out on the lower 4,200 RMB price. In reality, when purchasing these tickets, you don’t need a visa or any other supporting documents. Ctrip, for example, only requires you to upload your visa, CAS, offer letter, passport, and other documents three days before your flight. So, it’s best to buy your ticket as early as possible.

Due to the impact of the pandemic this year, some flights may not have received approval from the Civil Aviation Administration to operate. However, they are still selling tickets. I recommend checking whether your flight has been approved before purchasing a ticket because some airlines only provide refunds in the form of vouchers, which can be inconvenient.

Most flights to the UK, except those to London, typically involve layovers at airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol, Helsinki, Dubai, or London Heathrow. When booking your ticket, check whether your baggage can be checked through to your final destination. If it’s not, you’ll need to re-check your luggage during the layover, which can be a hassle and time-consuming, so make sure to allow enough time.

Additionally, if flights to the city where your university is located are expensive, consider flights to nearby cities. For example, I initially planned to fly from Shanghai to Glasgow, but the tickets to Glasgow were already over 10,000 RMB. However, tickets to Edinburgh were only around 5,000 RMB, so I purchased an Edinburgh ticket. After arriving, a group of us hired a car to Glasgow directly from Edinburgh airport, which cost about 100 pounds. When shared among three or four people, this is a cost-effective option.


Registration typically involves two parts: Academic Registration and Financial Registration. The university will send you an email with the registration website, username, and password. Be sure to change your password.

Academic Registration

Using Glasgow as an example, Academic Registration includes the following steps:

  • Confirm course details.
  • Verify your name, gender, date of birth, and student ID.
  • Provide information on your religion and nationality.
  • Fill out your UK term address.
  • Provide your personal email address and phone number.
  • Indicate if you have any disabilities.
  • Add an emergency contact.
  • Complete the Statistical Information section, which includes questions similar to a census, such as your sexual orientation and whether you have children.
  • Upload a photo. This photo will be used on your student ID card and should meet the same standards as your passport photo.
  • Upload a copy of the ID page of your passport.

Once you’ve completed Academic Registration, you’ll be able to enroll in your courses.

Financial Registration

Financial Registration involves paying your tuition fees. Common payment methods include wire transfer, credit card payments, and some universities may also accept Alipay or UnionPay card payments.

I chose to pay my tuition fees in installments using a credit card. Some universities offer discounts for full upfront payment of tuition fees, but in my case, the University of Glasgow did not provide such discounts. If your university doesn’t offer a discount for full payment, consider using installment payments. You can earn interest on the money you keep in your UK bank account, which can add up to a substantial amount given the large sum of tuition fees.

My experience with tuition fee payment was a bit complicated. Initially, I used a Construction Bank Visa card for payment, but this card only allowed me to make payments in RMB. Since I already had GBP in hand, I couldn’t use it for repayment. So, I decided to get a new card.

I transferred the GBP from my Construction Bank account to my Bank of China account and applied for a Bank of China Dual Currency Credit Card, specifically for GBP payments. I highly recommend applying for this card using the Bank of China mobile app, as it’s a quick process. I received the card in just three days. When applying for the card, select unemployed as your occupation and fill in the remaining income details arbitrarily. For some unknown reason, choosing student as your occupation may result in an immediate rejection. Also, I don’t recommend going to the bank branch to apply for this card. Bank staff may not be familiar with this card, and the process may be slow. I saw someone on Weibo who applied for a USD card at the bank branch but received a USD card that couldn’t be used.

My initial credit limit was a meager 1,000 GBP. Considering that the first installment payment for Glasgow was 2,933 GBP, this was insufficient. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can make three separate payments of 1,000 GBP and repay them one by one. However, I opted for the easier route and directly transferred 3,000 GBP to my credit card to cover the first payment.

Luggage Guide

I’ve bought a variety of items in China, and I’m not sure if they will all fit in my luggage, haha. The list below includes what I’m thinking of bringing, but I may not bring everything.

Carry-On Luggage

Documents and Certificates

  1. Passport
  2. BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) instructions that came with your passport
  3. CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)
  4. Tenancy Agreement (if applicable)
  5. Language proficiency certificates
  6. Academic transcripts
  7. Diploma and degree certificates (remember to remove the outer casings)
  8. Passport-sized photos
  9. The form filled out 48 hours before entry
  10. Tuberculosis (TB) test report

Cash and Cards

  1. Bank cards
  2. UK SIM card
  3. SIM card ejector tool
  4. British pounds (cash)
  5. Signature pen

Health and Safety Items (a small quantity)

  1. Face masks
  2. Disposable gloves
  3. Face shield or visor


  1. Mobile phone
  2. Power bank
  3. Camera
  4. Laptop
  5. Tablet
  6. Chargers
  7. Charging cables
  8. Earphones
  9. Universal travel adapter

Comfort Items

  1. Slippers
  2. Neck pillow
  3. Eye mask
  4. Earplugs
  5. Travel toiletry kit
  6. Snacks

Checked Luggage

Health and Safety Items

  1. Face masks
  2. Disposable gloves
  3. Face shield
  4. Band-Aids (plasters)
  5. Alcohol swabs/wipes
  6. Over-the-counter cold and flu medicine
  7. Huoxiang Zhengqi Capsules (a traditional Chinese medicine)
  8. Watermelon frost throat lozenges
  9. Nail clippers and earwax removal tool set
  10. Antibiotic ointment (e.g., Neosporin)
  11. Ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic)
  12. Hydrocortisone cream
  13. Thermometer or infrared thermometer
  14. Personal daily medications
  15. UV sterilization lamp

Electronics and Accessories

  1. UK plug adapters
  2. Power strips
  3. Battery chargers
  4. Computer mouse and keyboard
  5. Electric razor
  6. Various chargers
  7. Headphones
  8. Calculator
  9. External hard drive
  10. USB drive/SD card reader
  11. Router
  12. Phone case
  13. Screen protectors
  14. Mobile phone and tablet stand
  15. Laptop stand
  16. Camera tripod
  17. Ethernet cable
  18. Mousepad

Household Items and Tools

  1. Nail clippers and earwax removal tool set
  2. Adhesive hooks (no damage hooks)
  3. Soap dish
  4. Coin purse
  5. Chopsticks
  6. Lunchbox
  7. Thermos
  8. Collapsible basin
  9. Suction cup shower head holder
  10. Screwdriver
  11. Swiss Army knife or multitool pliers
  12. Laundry bag
  13. Drain cover and filter for sink
  14. Collapsible clothes hangers
  15. Tweezers
  16. Collapsible electric kettle
  17. Shoe dryer
  18. Desk lamp
  19. USB mini fan
  20. Humidifier
  21. Toothbrush


  1. Windbreaker
  2. Underwear
  3. Socks
  4. Two or three pairs of shoes
  5. Hoodie
  6. Jacket
  7. Down jacket
  8. Towels

Luggage Accessories

Primarily to make your suitcase more recognizable at the baggage carousel to avoid picking up the wrong one.

  1. Colorful luggage straps
  2. Luggage tags
  3. Luggage cover

Post-Arrival Updates

I anticipate updating this guide in January after arriving in the UK. I’ll create a new blog post for that.