Before you leave

The following checklists will help you make sure that you are fully prepared for your exchange experience.

Pre–departure

Before you go abroad, you will need to attend a pre–departure session within your faculty. These sessions are designed to help you get ready to go abroad. Although we can’t prepare you for every situation, we hope that it will give you a good basis before you leave.

Details of when and where the pre-departure sessions will take place will be sent to you by your Faculty Outward Mobility Officer.

Topic covered in these sessions include

  • travel advice
  • health and safety issues
  • insurance
  • visa
  • money and finance

You should also download our pre-departure guide (PDF) which provides information about what to expect before and during your time abroad and what is expected of you. 

Academic matters

Have you:

  • found out exactly what is expected from you during and after the exchange in terms of marks, coursework, reports and credits?
  • got contact details for any University of Westminster staff you may need to contact while you're away?

Administrative matters

Have you:

  • informed the faculty registry that you are going on exchange? Remember to supply a contact address to the faculty registry when you get there if you are not able to do this before you go.
  • completed all the necessary enrolment forms? If not your tuition fees may be incorrectly charged.
  • informed your Local Education Authority (LEA) and the Students Loans Company? Even in cases where the LEA doesn't need to be informed that you are abroad, it is often useful to do this.

Personal matters

Have you:

  • arranged your accommodation or gathered information so that you can find a place to live when you arrive? Please remember it is your responsibility to arrange your accommodation.
  • arranged travel and medical insurance, and ensured you have sufficient cover for your destination country?
  • arranged any immunisations that are needed? Check at least 6–8 weeks before your trip in case you need to get any.
  • got a letter from your doctor to cover any medications you are taking with you? Some medicines are not legal in every country. Have you got enough medications to last you?
  • checked for travel advice? It may be helpful to subscribe to their email alerts or follow @FCOtravel on Twitter for regular updates.

Travel insurance

All students must provide evidence of travel insurance before they leave. We suggest you get comprehensive travel insurance, which covers medical emergencies, last-minute cancellations, lost baggage and money. It should cover any pre-existing medical conditions you have, and you should ensure it covers all activities you undertake. If you do not take out proper insurance, you will normally have to pay the costs of any emergency yourself, including expensive bills and medical evacuation back to the UK.

The University's block travel insurance scheme will extend to cover students travelling overseas for up to 12 months on exchange programmes or for any other activity in relation to their coursework at University of Westminster. An authorised staff member of the University (for example your Course Leader or Academic Exchange Coordinator) must approve the trip.

To receive details of the insurance, please complete a Student Travel Insurance Request form, and send it to [email protected].

Once you have submitted this form, you will receive a copy of the travel insurance cover note together with emergency contacts.

Health insurance

For EU & EEA countries

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles students to medical care at a reduced cost, or even free. You can apply for EHIC on the NHS website.

However, we recommend that you purchase additional insurance.

For other countries

You will need to arrange personal health insurance. For the US, Canada and Australia this is obligatory and you will not get a visa without proof of this. It is often easier and cheaper to use the host university's insurance broker. Information about this will be included with the application form.

Immigration matters

It is your responsibility to check if you require a visa for your exchange and to obtain all documentation required, obtain a visa and pay any costs associated with this. The University of Westminster does not supply visa guidance or information for students going on exchange. Please do not wait until the last minute to get your visa.

Have you:

  • checked if you need a student visa and applied for one if you are required to do so? Leave plenty of time.
  • ensured you have all the documents you need to apply for a visa (for example an acceptance letter from your host institution)?
  • found out about the employment regulations while on your exchange?

Contact the relevant embassy or consulate to find out if you need to have a visa or what you need to do to obtain one. You can use the Embassy World website to find out contact details.

Information about the host institution

The partner institution should send you general information. Alternatively, you should contact their exchange office or visit their website.

Have you:

  • found out the semester and holiday dates of your host institution?
  • found when the orientation is (if there is one) and booked your place?
  • made a note of the contact details for the exchange coordinator at your host institution?
  • found out about language provision at your host institution? Many universities offer free language courses for exchange students before the start of the study period. If so, have you applied?
  • applied for accommodation if the partner offers it?

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How to apply

Find out how to apply and next steps to take for your experience abroad.