International Student Handbook
Congratulations on receiving an offer of a place at Queen Margaret University (QMU).
Please familiarise yourself with the following information and check the QMU website and social media feeds for important details about preparing to join QMU. In the lead-up to your start date, remember to check your email regularly for any communications from QMU.
We are looking forward to welcoming you to QMU. We hope you have a safe journey to Edinburgh and enjoy your time with us.
Scotland makes up the northern part of the United Kingdom and has a population of over 5 million people. Although part of the UK, Scotland has a devolved parliament and distinct education and legal systems.
There is something for everyone in Scotland – historic buildings and castles, tourist attractions, events and festivals, and numerous outdoor activities such as golf and hill-walking.
For further information, see VisitScotland's website.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, located in the south-east of the country. The city has a population of around 500,000, and approximately 10% are students studying in Edinburgh's four universities and colleges - we are a student-friendly city!
Edinburgh is frequently voted one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and rated one of the best places to live in the UK.
As one of the most picturesque cities in the world, Edinburgh boasts an incredible variety of galleries and museums, restaurants and bars, as well as beautiful parks and gardens. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh combines a medieval Old Town and a Georgian New Town. The city hosts several arts and cultural festivals throughout the year. The most famous of these events are the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Hogmanay Street Party on Princes Street.
Edinburgh is a compact city and it's easy to get around on foot or by using the excellent public transport system. Edinburgh also has excellent road, rail and air transport links making it easily accessible from all major cities in the UK and beyond, and allowing you to explore other parts of Scotland and the UK.
For further information about Edinburgh, see VisitScotland's guide to Edinburgh.
Queen Margaret University
Queen Margaret University (QMU) was established in Edinburgh in 1875. QMU now has a total student population of over 5,000, with approximately 20% of our students coming from over 80 countries outside the UK.
Our compact size ensures that QMU has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and a strong sense of community, allowing you to settle in quickly and easily. With a network of support services available, we are sure you will have a positive experience during your studies with us.
As a new QMU student, you are required to formally register with QMU and sign a declaration that you agree to abide by the University’s regulations, including the payment of fees and other tuition costs. This registration process is referred to as ‘matriculation’.
You should matriculate online on our website before you arrive. Registry will send you an email prompting you to complete the process. Please do not attempt to complete the matriculation process before you have received this email from Registry.
You will need your student number to log in, which can be found on your offer letter. Once you have matriculated, you will be able to access student services such as your QMU email and the university's internet.
If you have any questions about matriculation, please contact the Student Records Team.
It is important to think about your accommodation early.
QMU offers on-campus accommodation in our student village. There are 800 single bedrooms in self-contained flats for three to six students. Each flat has a shared kitchen/living area. We are unable to provide accommodation for couples or families.
You can apply for on-campus accommodation with an unconditional or a conditional offer. You should apply online through our accommodation system. Once your application has been processed you will be sent an offer of accommodation which you should accept as soon as possible. You will need to make a £250 prepayment to confirm your place.
Please note, that once you sign a lease for student accommodation for either 38 or 50 weeks, this is legally binding. One-semester study abroad/exchange students who sign an accommodation lease are liable for the duration of the semester.
What is provided?
Each en-suite single bedroom is equipped with a bed, wardrobe, desk, chest of drawers, shelves and chair. En-suite facilities consisting of a toilet, shower and washbasin. Each bedroom has a WIFI internet connection. The kitchen contains a fridge, freezer, electric cooker, microwave, electric kettle, and an electric toaster. Irons and ironing boards are provided and shared amongst groups of students as are brooms, mops and vacuum cleaners. Each living area (open plan to the kitchen) is equipped with a dining table and chairs.
Personal contents insurance is also provided as part of the lease.
What you will need to provide?
Single or double sheets, pillow/s, pillowcases, towels, a duvet and duvet cover, cutlery, crockery, pots and pans. You can potentially purchase these in advance and have them delivered to QMU before you arrive. Details can be found in the Accommodation Guide that is sent out when you pay your deposit.
You may prefer to purchase some of these items locally on arrival – we usually arrange a trip to IKEA during Induction Week.
Emergency bedding packs are available on loan for one or two nights. These are limited in number and can be obtained on arrival at the University.
The student village
You can see a video of the QMU Accommodation and access the online application form on our accommodation web pages.
When to arrive
The Accommodation Team will advise you about your arrival period once your place in the accommodation is confirmed. You should then liaise with Accommodation Services about your arrival so that they know when to expect you.
Contact the Accommodation Team directly with any questions.
You can find advice about searching for accommodation off campus in our private sector accommodation guide.
In order for students to meet the in-person class attendance level, and comply with our attendance monitoring (student sign in) as part of your Student visa responsibilities, we expect that students find accommodation within a reasonable commuting distance of no further than 50 miles from campus.
You can also search for accommodation using the following links:
Basic contents insurance is included if you are staying on campus, however, it is a good idea to take out insurance for your personal belongings, especially if staying off campus. Several companies offer inexpensive cover. Search online for ‘student personal insurance’.
Visa and immigration
You will need to check if you require a visa to study in the UK: Check UK visa at gov.uk.
As part of the application process, you may be required to attend an interview to confirm your reasons for choosing the UK, QMU and your course, how you intend to fund your studies in the UK, and how this all fits into your career aspirations.
Student Visa System
For full details on the complete immigration policy, you should visit the UK Visa and Immigration website.
To obtain a student visa for a course at QMU you must:
- have an Unconditional Firm Offer from our Admissions Team
- pay a £5000 deposit towards your tuition fees (or provide evidence of sponsorship)
- pay your NHS Healthcare Surcharge
- request a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) from the Admissions Team
- complete and return the CAS request form.
QMU will then issue you with a CAS which can use to complete your Visa Application.
Information and guidance on obtaining your student visa, paying your deposit etc. is available on the visa and immigration page of our website.
We also run regular online drop-in sessions which we encourage you to join.
It is normally only possible to extend your visa if you have failed an element of your course or experienced an illness which has delayed your studies. If you need to extend your visa, you will need to complete an online application under the student category and obtain a new Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) from the International Team stating that you are a registered student.
You can apply online or attend an interview in person in Glasgow. You should aim to organise your visa extension within three months of your visa expiring.
It is advisable to make a note in your diary of the date your visa expires.
All countries have a British Embassy/British High Commission and most also have a local British Council Office where you can obtain help or advice.
Following a successful visa application
Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)
When your visa is granted, your passport will be returned to you with a ‘vignette’ attached; the vignette will last for 30-90 days. Within 10 days of arrival in the UK, you need to visit your designated Post Office to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If you cannot attend your designated Post Office within 30 days, you will not be penalised for this, but you should collect your BRP as soon as you can.
We will take a copy of your BRP during induction.
What to bring to Scotland
Think about what type of clothing you will need to help you cope with the changeable weather in Scotland. Several thin layers of clothes are often more effective against the cold than one thick sweater or jacket. We recommend that you pack some long-sleeved jerseys or pullovers and a warm winter jacket. Sturdy footwear and thick socks will keep your feet warm in late autumn and winter. A hat, scarf and gloves are also recommended. Don’t worry if these are not readily available in your home country, as there are many shops in Edinburgh where you can buy outdoor clothing and accessories at reasonable prices. Edinburgh also has numerous ‘charity’ shops where students can purchase good quality second-hand clothes at bargain prices!
What not to bring
International students often like to bring food and plant products from home with them when they come to study in the UK. You may not realise that there are strict rules governing the import of these products. Please don’t pack any fresh, dried or cured pork or wild boar meat to bring with you. This includes any pork or wild boar products such as sausages, bacon, meatballs, pate, ham, salami, jerky, bakwa and rougan, and products made of pork fat or wild boar fat, such as lardo and salo. It is illegal to bring these items into the UK from most countries outside of the EU. If your family or friends are sending you gifts by post, please ask them not to send any meat products.
For wider information about the products you can and cannot bring with you visit the DEFRA website.
Visit the UKCISA website as it is an excellent source of advice for international students, and includes many useful information pages.
Getting to Edinburgh
When to arrive
Induction for most international students takes place week beginning 8 January 2024. Admissions will send you an email to inform you of your exact course start date. Learn more about the induction programme.
You may wish to plan your travel so that you have a few days to rest, get over any jetlag and get used to your new surroundings before the student induction. If you do intend to arrive earlier than your lease begins, please contact your chosen accommodation in advance to make sure it is available.
Arriving in the UK
You will need to bring the following documents with you when travelling to the UK:
- Passport: A valid passport is required. Check that your passport is valid for a minimum of one year after you enter the UK. If in doubt, get a new passport.
- Visa or entry clearance: See the 'Pre-Arrival' section on how to obtain a visa/entry clearance.
- CAS statement: A digital or paper copy
- Offer letter: We would also recommend you bring a printed copy of your offer documents sent to you by our Admissions Team.
Getting to the University
From Edinburgh Airport
The easiest way to travel from Edinburgh Airport to the University is by taxi. Taxis (black cabs) run on a meter (fare between £45 and £55, journey time 30-45 minutes).
Both companies offer larger vehicles if you have a lot of luggage. The taxi companies are reliable, and you will be safe and secure on your journey.
Taking an Uber is also another option - Uber journeys are safe and reliable in the UK.
Most taxis and public transport options will accept contactless payment.
A regular airport bus service to the city centre is available from outside the main airport terminal building (fare £5.50, journey time 20-30 minutes to Waverley Bridge - opposite Waverley railway station). From Waverley Bridge, you can either take a taxi to QMU (fare between £20 and £30, journey time 20-30 minutes) or take a train from Edinburgh Waverley railway station to Musselburgh railway station, which is next to the QMU campus (fare, £3.10, journey time 6 minutes).
A regular tram service to the city centre is available from outside the main airport terminal building (fare £7.50, journey time 30 minutes to St Andrew’s Square, near Waverley railway station). From St Andrew’s Square, you can either take a taxi to the University (fare approximately £30 and journey time 20-30 minutes) or take a train from Edinburgh Waverley railway station to Musselburgh railway station (fare, £3.10).
An hourly train service runs between Edinburgh Waverley station and Musselburgh station, which is next to QMU campus (fare £3.10, journey time 6 minutes).
Arriving by bus
Edinburgh Bus Station in St Andrew Square is the city’s main bus terminus. From there you can either travel to the University by taxi (fare approximately £30, journey time 20-30 minutes) or walk the short distance to Edinburgh Waverley station then take the train to Musselburgh station. Whilst there are several bus services to the University from the city centre, these would not be suitable when travelling with a lot of luggage.
Arriving at Glasgow Airport
From Glasgow Airport arrivals, please follow the signs for Buses/Coaches and proceed to Stance 1. From there, board the Number 500 bus service to Glasgow Queen Street Railway Station, then take the train onward to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station. There are also frequent buses between Glasgow and Edinburgh which leave from Buchanan St Bus Station.
After you Arrive
Some international students need to show immigration documents to the QMU International Team after they arrive on campus. If this is the case, we will email you in advance to explain what is required. Once we’ve seen your documents, you will receive a student card, which entitles you to various discounts and can be used as your ID within the university.
Paying your tuition fees
Details of fees are available on the QMU website.
After you have matriculated online, our Finance Team will issue you with an invoice for your tuition fees for one year of study. You will find the payment options on the QMU Portal as soon as you have matriculated.
Your fees should either be paid in full, 21 days after the invoice date, or by instalment. Please note that if you miss one instalment, the Finance Team will automatically request the remaining outstanding balance.
One Single Payment: You can pay your tuition fees in full either before, or on your arrival. If you are self-funding and your fees are over £9,000, if you settle your fees in full before 31 October (or within 7 days from the date of invoice, whichever is later) a 5% discount will be applied. This discount will be calculated at 5% of the net fee payable (i.e. after any scholarship is deducted).
Instalments: You can choose to pay by instalments through Direct Debit or Recurring Card Payment (RCP). Instalments start in October and run through to May the following calendar year (8 payments). No other form of instalment plan is accepted.
Credit card payments: You can pay your tuition fees, in full, by credit card or debit card at the Finance Office on campus. Before you pay, you should check whether your bank will charge you for using your card abroad and what this charge will be.
Sponsored students: If you are a sponsored student, you should provide written evidence of who will be sponsoring your studies and exactly how much your sponsor is paying.
Regardless of how you decide to pay your tuition fees, you must arrange a payment method with the Finance Team within 21 days of your arrival at QMU. A full copy of our Student Debt Recovery Procedures can be found on our website.
International induction events
International student induction
All international students on a student visa are required to attend the International Student Induction on campus. There will be a face-to-face session on Monday 8 January 2024 – (confirmation of the time and room location will be emailed to you).
Studying at QMU
A full calendar of the academic year is provided on our website.
Teaching and Learning Methods
During your studies at QMU, methods of teaching and learning may differ from what you are used to.
Traditional teaching, where a lecturer speaks on a particular subject to many students.
This is where you will meet your tutor, in a small group of your fellow students. You will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the topic and contribute to discussions.
You are expected to undertake some independent study, either alone or in small groups. To be able to contribute to class and to write assignments you are required to read about your subject. Reading lists are provided for guidance.
Assessment is carried out through examinations and coursework. Do not put your studies and preparation off to the last minute as pressure soon mounts.
Plagiarism is a very serious matter in the UK. You should NEVER copy someone else’s work or even repeat it in different words without stating where you found the information and who it came from. Guides about referencing are available from the Learning Resource Centre.
Remember, if you are struggling with your studies, you must seek advice from academic staff as soon as possible, rather than wait for them to approach you.
Further information about study methods used in the UK is provided on the UKCISA website.
Personal Academic Tutor (PAT)
Your Personal Academic Tutor is the member of staff who will be your guide and mentor for academic issues throughout your time at QMU. Your PAT will be:
- a friendly and helpful first point of contact within the institution
- a source of advice and guidance on all matters relating to academic progress
- a link with other academic staff
- aware of the broader network of support services at QMU and advise you as appropriate.
Support at QMU
English Language and Study Skills Support
Free English language support is available from the Effective Learning Service, which is based in the Learning Resource Centre. The Effective Learning Service provides support for all students wishing to develop their English language skills. The Effective Learning Service can also help you with your study skills.
For information on the support available and how to make an appointment with one of the team visit the Effective Learning Service.
You can also contact the Effective Learning Service at ELSinternational@qmu.ac.uk.
The Student Services Team acknowledge the diversity of students’ backgrounds and experiences and has established a range of support services designed to meet your needs and requirements.
QMU has a dedicated team of specialists in the areas of transition and pre-entry guidance, careers and student employment, disability advice, counselling and wellbeing, financial advice, and for students who are living on campus, a medical service linked with Riverside Medical Practice in Musselburgh.
All services are confidential and free. Further information about student services can be found on our website.
The International Team are available to help answer any questions, particularly if you need information about immigration and extending your visa. We offer information and advice on a range of topics and can also provide you with supporting letters for extending your visa, inviting a family member to visit you, and for visiting another country.
During term time, we run regular drop-in sessions. At the start of each week, you will receive a link to the online drop-in session by email. The dates will also be published on our website.
If you have any questions throughout the year, you can also email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The International Team organise several social events for international students. These usually include a familiarisation tour of Edinburgh, a Christmas lunch, and a bus tour.
Living in Scotland
Leaving home to study in a foreign country can be a very exciting experience but we recognise it can also be quite challenging. Often students are surprised by the effect that travelling to another country can have on them. However, it is important to realise that many of your reactions are perfectly normal, regardless of where you are from or what you are studying. Culture Shock can be caused by several things:
- The shock of a new environment
- Different study methods
- Constantly meeting new people
- Being separated from your loved ones and the people who you would usually turn to for advice
- The climate
- The food
- Being immersed in a foreign language
- Social customs that challenge what you have always accepted as ‘normal’.
It is important to recognise the symptoms of culture shock and look after yourself. It is perfectly normal, and to be expected, that you may feel homesick, and you may be surprised when it hits you. You may have difficulty sleeping, or want to sleep all the time; you may get headaches or be overanxious. Often your concentration span is affected, and your emotions may fluctuate more than normal.
Remember that there are support networks in place to help you through any difficult times. Here is some basic advice:
- Maintain a healthy, balanced diet
- Take regular light exercise
- Keep in touch with your friends and family at home by email or make a few extra phone calls or video chats
- Make friends with other international students, as often they will understand what you are going through
- Join some societies, or get involved with your local community as this is a way of keeping yourself busy and also getting to know other Scottish students who can in turn help you to understand the culture better
- Speak to someone from the International Office, the Wellbeing Adviser or a Student Counsellor
- Ultimately, look after yourself and remember that culture shock is a perfectly natural reaction to life in a new environment
Notes: £100, £50, £20, £10, £5, and £1
Coins: £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, and 1p
In Scotland, three different banks can issue bank notes: the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank. In England, only the Bank of England issues banknotes. If you are visiting England and using cash, it is recommended that you take English bank notes.
ATMs will accept Visa, MasterCard and most other cards. There are a number of banks nearby in Musselburgh where you can open an account, including:
There are more banks in the centre of Edinburgh. Banks are usually open from 9.00am until 5pm, Monday to Friday, except for bank holidays, and some branches will also open on Saturdays, although often on reduced hours.
Since the COVID pandemic, contactless payment has become widespread and will be accepted by most shops and businesses.
Opening a Bank Account
You must open a bank account as soon as you arrive in the UK.
Your chosen bank will ask you to provide photo identification, confirmation that you are a student at QMU and your postal address. Therefore, once you have chosen a bank, go to the School Office in the University and they will prepare a letter confirming your student status and your postal address. Please make sure you give at least 48 hours notice! We can only issue one bank letter per student.
If you bring a banker’s draft in your name, in Pounds Sterling (£GBP) with you, please ensure that the draft is drawn on a UK bank as this speeds up transactions and ensures that commission payments are dealt with locally in your own country. Once you deposit the draft it should take between seven to ten days to clear. Do not bring personal cheques as many banks will not accept them.
Most international students studying for longer than six months do not require a work permit to work part-time. International students studying full-time are allowed to work in the UK for up to 20 hours per week as long as the work meets certain conditions:
- You must not work for more than 20 hours a week during term time, except where a work placement is to be undertaken as a necessary part of the course of study as agreed by the education institution.
- Your BRP must not say 'prohibition on taking employment'.
- You cannot engage in business, self-employment, the provision of services, or take work as a professional entertainer or sportsperson.
- You should not pursue a career by filling a permanent full-time vacancy.
Further details about the regulations on employment can be found on the UKCISA website.
If you are on a short-term study abroad or exchange programme from a country which does not require a UK entry visa, you will need to obtain a student visa if you want to work part-time while studying. If you are a study abroad or exchange student, please contact StudyAbroad@qmu.ac.uk for further guidance.
If you decide to work, you will need to obtain a National Insurance number. More information about obtaining a National Insurance number.
All Student Route students who have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of the visa application process are entitled to free medical advice and hospital treatment under the National Health Service in Scotland. The cost of dental care and eye tests are not covered by the NHS.
It is advisable to register with a doctor once you are settled in your accommodation. If you are living on campus you can register with our local GP by picking up a form at our Student Services reception desk.
Student medical services are delivered in partnership with:
The Riverside Practice
Esk Medical Centre
0131 665 2267
There are several shops within walking distance of the University and on close-by public transport links, including supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Lidl and Aldi. These shops sell many homeware items together with food, toiletries and clothing.
There is a retail park close to the University called Fort Kinnaird which offers a range of high street stores such as Boots and Marks & Spencer, as well as a cinema and various restaurants. There is a wider variety of shops in Edinburgh’s city centre, ranging from small independent shops through to large chain stores.
Many shops, bars and entertainment venues offer a discount to full-time students. You will have to show your student card to claim any discounts that are on offer.
The nearest Post Office to the University is:
105 High Street
Getting around Edinburgh and Beyond
As a student, you can apply for rail and bus discount cards which will give you a reduction on standard fares.
If you are under 22 and living in Scotland, you may be entitled to nationwide free bus travel.
Two main bus companies operate throughout Edinburgh: Lothian Buses and First Bus. To find out more about the various bus routes you can visit their websites: lothianbuses.co.uk and firstedinburgh.co.uk.
Two buses run from Edinburgh city centre to Queen Margaret University: Lothian No. 30 and No. 45. The 30 bus runs approximately every 10 minutes, with a journey time of 20-30 minutes. Sunday service tends to be every 30 minutes. The 45 runs a little less frequently. It is possible to travel between Edinburgh and QMU by train in under 10 minutes. Timetables can be found on the Scotrail website.
Edinburgh is extremely accessible by road, rail and air.
You can purchase student discount cards, which will offer you up to 30% discount on fares (visit their websites for further details). The main bus station is in St Andrews Square, behind Princes Street.
You can also use the Trainline app to book tickets across the UK.
Alternatively, visit Waverley Station on Princes Street for further information. You can purchase a young persons/student railcard that lasts for one year and gives you up to 1/3 discount off all rail travel.
Remember to check if you require a visa for your chosen destination if you decide to travel outside the UK – even within Europe. Don’t leave this until the last minute!
Please note that there is no on-campus parking for students in University accommodation who wish to bring their own cars. This is in accordance with the University’s Green Travel Plan. Exceptions can be made for students with mobility impairments.
You may wish to become a member of the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) which gives you access to budget accommodation across the country.
The climate in Scotland can be unpredictable, with sunny summer conditions that can change rapidly into showery conditions. Summers are generally fine, with long hours of daylight, mild temperatures, and bright sunshine, although days might start out misty. Winter days become shorter; the weather can be cold with many frosty mornings. December, January and February are the rainiest months. Snow in winter is infrequent, but in Edinburgh we can experience some very cold winds from the Northeast, so hats, scarves and gloves are essential!
If you have any questions about coming to Scotland and starting your studies at QMU, contact email@example.com
Contact the International Office
For international student recruitment enquiries:Show Contacts