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 information about preparing to join QMU.

Follow the QMU Facebook page.

We hope that you have a safe journey to Edinburgh and enjoy your time with us.


Scotland makes up the northern part of the UK and has a population of over 5 million people. Although Scotland is part of the UK, it has its own devolved parliament, as well as having distinct education and legal systems.

There is something for everyone in Scotland – historic buildings and castles, tourist attractions, events and festivals, outdoor activities such as golf and hill-walking.

For further information, see VisitScotland's website


Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city and is located in the south-east of the country. Edinburgh is frequently voted as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and one of the best places to live in the UK.

The city has a population of around 500,000, of whom around 10% are students studying in its four universities and colleges.

As one of the most picturesque cities in the world, Edinburgh boasts an amazing mix of galleries and museums, restaurants and bars, and parks and gardens. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh combines the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town. The city is also host to several arts and cultural festivals throughout the year. The most famous of these events are the Edinburgh Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Hogmanay Street Party on Princes Street.

Edinburgh is compact and very easy to get around on foot or by using the excellent public transport system. The city 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 on Edinburgh see VisitScotland's guide to Edinburgh.

Queen Margaret University

QMU was established in Edinburgh in 1875. The University now has a total student population of over 5,000. Around 50% of our students come 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 our students to settle in quickly and easily. With a network of support services available to you, 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.

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 email and the internet.

If you have any queries about matriculation, please contact the Student Records Team.


It is important to think about your accommodation early and you can apply for on-campus accommodation with an unconditional or a conditional offer.

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. You are recommended to apply in advance as availability cannot be guaranteed.

We are unable to provide accommodation for couples or families. You should apply for accommodation 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, 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 arranged 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.

Off-campus accommodation 

You can find advice about searching for accommodation off campus in our private sector accommodation guide

You can also search for accommodation using the following links:

Personal insurance

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 & Immigration


You will need to check if you require a visa to study in the UK: Check UK visa at

Credibility interviews

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 also 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 visas and immigration page of our website.  

We also run regular online drop-in sessions which we’d encourage you to join.

Visa Extensions

It is normally only possible to extend your visa if you have failed an element of your course or experienced 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 Office 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.

Local assistance

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 ‘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

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 3 September 2023. Admissions will have sent 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

Clearing immigration

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 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 30-40 minutes). Follow the signs for ‘taxis’ at Edinburgh Airport arrivals. 

Alternatively, you can book a black cab in advance. The two black cab companies in Edinburgh are Central Taxis and City Cabs.

Both companies offer larger vehicles if you have a lot of luggage. The taxi companies are perfectly safe and secure.

Uber is also an option, and Ubers are safe and reliable in the UK.

Most taxis and public transport options will accept contactless payment.

Airport bus

A regular airport bus service to the city centre is available from outside the main 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 the University (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 QMU (fare, £3.10, journey time 6 minutes).


A regular tram service to the city centre is available from outside the main 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 right next to QMU (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 and 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 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

If you are required to show immigration documents to the QMU International Team, we will email you in advance to explain what is required. Once we’ve seen your documents, you will be sent a student card. This will entitle you to various discounts and can be used as 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 Office will automatically request the remaining outstanding balance.

One Single Payment: You can pay your tuition fees in full on, or before, arrival. If you are self-funding and your fees are over £9,000, a 5% discount will be applied if you settle your fees in full before 31 October (or within 7 days from the date of invoice, whichever is the later). 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 the sponsor is paying.

Regardless of how you decide to pay your tuition fees it is essential that you arrange a payment method with the Finance Office 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. There will be a face-to-face session on Sunday 3 September 2023 – 10am (the room location will be emailed to you).

Studying at QMU

Term Dates

A full calendar of the academic ear is provided on our website.

Teaching and Learning Methods

During your studies at QMU, it is possible that methods of teaching and learning will 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.

Independent Study

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 expected to read about your subject. Reading lists are provided as guidance.


Assessment is carried out through examinations and course work. Do not put work 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 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 with study skills.

For information on the support available and how to make an appointment with one of the team visit the Effective Learning Service

The Effective Learning Service can be contacted at

Student Services

The Student Services Team acknowledge the diversity of students’ backgrounds and experiences and have established a range of support services designed to meet your needs and requirements.

QMU has a dedicated team of specialists in the areas of careers and student employment, disability advice, counselling and well-being, financial advice, transition and pre-entry guidance, and a medical service linked with Riverside Medical Practice in Musselburgh for students who are living on campus.

All services are confidential and free. Further information about student services can be found on our website.

International Office

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 operate drop-in surgery hours. 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

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

Culture Shock

Leaving home to study in a foreign country can be a very exciting experience but we recognise it can also be quite stressful. 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 a number of 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 alternatively 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 light exercise
  • Keep in touch with your friends and family at home by email or make a few extra phone calls or video chats home
  • 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

Since the COVID pandemic, contactless payment has become widespread and will be accepted by most shops and businesses.

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 bank notes. If visiting England, it is recommended that you take English bank notes.

Before you leave home, you may want to get a bank draft in your own name in Pounds Sterling (£GBP) so that you can safely bring a large amount of money 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 arrive at the University, you can then open your own bank account and deposit the bank draft. Do not bring personal cheques as many banks will not accept them.

Opening a Bank Account

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:

Bank of Scotland

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 banks will also open on a Saturday, although often on reduced hours.

It is essential that you open a bank account as soon as you arrive in the UK. If you bring a banker’s draft in Pounds Sterling (£GBP) with you, you can open an account at a convenient bank. The draft should take between seven to ten days to clear.

The 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.


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 sports person.
  • 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 for further guidance.

If you decide to work, you will need to get 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
Ladywell Way
EH21 6AB
0131 665 2267

Local Services


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 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.

Post Office

The nearest Post Office to the University is:

105 High Street
EH21 7DA

Getting around Edinburgh and Beyond

As a student, you can apply for rail and bus discount cards which will provide you with money off standard fares.

There are two main bus companies that operate throughout Edinburgh: Lothian Buses and First Bus. To find out more about the various bus routes you can visit their websites: and

There are two buses that 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.


National Express
Scottish Citylink

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.


LNER (East coast mainline)
Avanti (West coast mainline)

You can also use Trainline 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 a 1/3 off all rail travel.


Edinburgh is well serviced by a number of airlines, including budget airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair. Have a look at their websites for details of special offers.

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.

Travel Accommodation

You may wish to become a member of the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) which gives you access to budget accommodation across the country.

Student Life


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 

Contact the International Office

For international student recruitment enquiries: 

Show Contacts

Contact the International Office

International Office