The United Kingdom is the first choice for international students when it comes to pursue their higher education as the education system of the UK is globally recognized. Studying at UK universities can be exciting but students need to know how to stay safe during their stay in the UK. One aspect of studying abroad that our students and parents inquire about is the safety of the university and town to which they will be relocating. Of course, in every country, certain areas are safer than others, but the UK is usually regarded as a safe location to live and study. It is always possible to request that colleges install any safety precautions surrounding campus, such as emergency call boxes, all-night university transportation, and so forth.
Universities and institutions in the United Kingdom place a high priority on the safety of their students on campus. As an international student, you will have access to a variety of emergency contacts. Don’t worry, most universities have 24-hour security. Once a student has transferred to a new institution in a different town in a foreign country, the ideas below may be useful in making them feel safe and comfortable in their new surroundings.
1. Get to Know the University Security Service: Almost every campus in the United Kingdom has a separate organization in place to safeguard the safety of their overseas students. So, as a first step, see if your school has one and save the security officer’s phone number in your phone.
Several universities and schools additionally provide services such as shuttles and security escorts to transport you to your accommodation or train stations after hours. Some go so far as to create their own mobile apps with a direct channel for students to contact security. On the premises, there is also CCTV surveillance and security that operates around the clock. If you ever feel insecure on or around your campus or in your accommodations, don’t hesitate to contact the college authorities.
- Stay Alert Outside of Campus: You must always be aware of your surroundings and watchful. If you feel uneasy at any time, leave the area or notify someone you trust. Also, avoid travelling alone, especially at night. Pre-book a taxi or arrange for a friend to drop you off. You should walk in a group on well-lit streets. Carry enough cash for an emergency. However, accepting rides from strangers is not a good idea.
- Navigate Safe through the City: Take the time to thoroughly research the routes in your city. Also, try to get to know the area and use the most recent maps for directions. Regional trains, buses, and tubes can be used to travel short distances. When taking a taxi, ensure it has a meter; if it doesn’t, agree on the far ahead of time to avoid any confusion later on. Moreover, the laws in the United Kingdom differ from those in India. So, memorize them ahead of time to avoid inadvertently breaking them.
- Keep Your Documentation and Money Safe: As an international student, you must always maintain all of your documents with you. Keep your passport, identity, visa paperwork, and immigration forms in a secure location at all times. If you want to utilize cash, keep it in multiple locations rather than just one. It is always preferable to use a credit card rather than cash. Additionally, when you go exploring, don’t bring your passport with you. If you do not have a permanent address, contact your university’s foreign support office to arrange for campus storage.
- Hangout with Friends Carefully: Exploring new locations and enjoying your new surroundings can be thrilling, but before you go, do some research and look up any information you can find on that location to determine if it is safe for you to venture there. Inform your friends and family of your plans ahead of time. You can also share your current location with someone you know and trust.
- Stay Connected Always: Always keep your friends and family up to speed on your whereabouts. Here’s how to stay connected at all times:
- Get a local phone number and distribute it to friends, relatives, the university office, and your roommate.
- When you are not in a classroom, keep your phone charged and ringing.
- Keep someone informed if you’re travelling to another town or to the nearby shopping mall.
- Share your current location with someone you trust if you feel unsafe at any moment.
- Driving in the UK: Before driving in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland as an international visitor, you must meet the legal criteria and follow the proper processes. If you want to drive, you can check the British Government Website to see if your current license is still valid. You can drive in the UK for the first year of your stay if you have a valid driving license from your home country or an International Driving Permit. After one year, however, you must apply for a provisional UK license and have ‘L’ plates on your car. Until you pass your complete UK driving test, you must be accompanied by a person who holds a full UK driving license.
- Discrimination or Harassment: The United Kingdom caters to a wide range of religious and ethnic communities. Britain, by nature, is a tolerant culture that believes in the abolition of discrimination and the advancement of human equality. Age, handicap, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation are the nine protected categories. You can report any sort of unfair treatment, discrimination, or harassment related to any of these categories to your institution. You can also get in touch with the Equality Advisory Support Service by dialing +44 (0) 808 800 0082.
- Keep Your Information Safe: The last thing you want to do is lose your work, whether it’s your notes from yesterday’s lecture, revision for tomorrow’s exam, or your final year thesis submission. In addition, one of the most important ways to keep your computer safe is to use security and antivirus software. You leave your device vulnerable to malware and adware, which can install unwanted software on your browser or computer if you don’t use protection and antivirus software.
Furthermore, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an excellent way to improve your online security. It establishes a secure, encrypted internet connection that conceals your device’s identity and location. It comes in handy if you frequently connect to public Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops or use your card online.
- Stay Safe During Night Out: When you go out, there are a few things you should consider so that you may enjoy your nights out at university while being safe, especially if alcohol is involved. If you’re going to a friend’s house first for pre-drinks, limit how much you drink. It is acceptable to use alcohol in moderation. However, being under the influence of alcohol might make you susceptible and more likely to become a victim of crime.
Furthermore, while it is exceedingly unusual, there is a chance of drink spiking when you are out. So, keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended. If you need to change rooms, ask your friends to keep an eye on your drink.
In the end, although students will be on a trip of a lifetime, knowing how to be safe while studying in the UK will ensure that they continue to enjoy this incredible experience.