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Pre-departure briefings

Pre-departure briefing in China ©British Council

“You can't find information like this on Google!”

Are you planning to study in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland? Join a British Council pre-departure briefing to set you on the road to success!

Before you begin your UK studies, there is a lot to think about and prepare  but help is at hand.

Pre-departure briefings are events run by the British Council in many countries worldwide, for anyone planning to study in the UK. They are usually held over a day or half-day, and include talks and workshops that give you the advice you need to start your UK studies with confidence.

The Education UK events list shows some upcoming events, but if there's no pre-departure briefing listed for your country, contact your local British Council office for up-to-date information.

What can I expect at a pre-departure briefing?

Briefings vary from country to country. Take a look at the two schedules below – these are examples from real pre-departure briefings. The event might include:

  • Talks and workshops by British Council experts who can answer all your burning questions about life in the UK
  • Sessions with UK immigration officials, where you can check all your visa preparations are in order
  • ‘Meet and greet’ sessions with former students of UK institutions from your country. They will give you the honest ‘insider’ view of the first few weeks in the UK – and share their tips for making the most of the experience
  • Mini exhibitions with stalls from international banks, insurance companies and airlines
  • Competitions to win flights to the UK or other prizes
  • Lunch and ‘high tea’ sessions where you can chat to other new students… and make plans to meet up in the UK!

British Council pre-departure briefing schedules 2015

What kind of information will I receive?

No matter what sessions and speakers you have, your pre-departure briefing will cover the essential information you need to start settling in when you arrive. This includes advice about:

         Accepting the offer from your chosen UK university, college, school or language centre
         Visa applications
         Accommodation: How to arrange it and what to expect
         Travel: How to get around in the UK, and to your accommodation or institution when you arrive
         Luggage and what to pack
         Orientation programmes available in the UK
         Health and wellbeing – registering with a doctor and the National Health Service (NHS)
         Banking: How to open a UK bank account and manage your budget.

British Council pre-departure briefings in China, Hong Kong and India

How useful are pre-departure briefings?

According to students who have attended pre-departure briefings in the past, the answer is ‘very’! Here’s what some of them said…

‘The pre-departure briefing from the British Council was insightful, especially the alumni and the current students sharing their stories. They helped me imagine all the fun parts, as well as the challenges they had been through, and that made me readier to face them. The dinner session was a great way to make friends and seek advice about preparing for my studies.’
                                          ~ Fadilah from Indonesia, now studying at Goldsmiths, University of London

‘The officers from UK Visas and Immigration and the High Commission gave us in-depth information about life and procedures in the UK, as did the British Council. The former students’ first-hand experience was also informative, and the video presentations were very good. Overall it was a great learning experience for me – and all of us enjoyed the high tea very much! Thank you British Council for arranging the session.’
                                                                                                                    ~ Nidarshana from India

‘The pre-departure briefing helped ease my apprehension and anxiety of the unknown. Giving a speech to participants evokes personal memories and is a nice way to give back.’
              ~ Cai Pengfei from China, student at the University of Leeds and pre-departure briefing speaker

‘Many students came and spoke to me to tell me they find our advice from the student's perspective very practical. In particular, students found it useful to hear our advice on the apps we use to order takeaway food and check train schedules, our experiences of getting over homesickness, and getting used to the local accents… You can’t find information like this on Google!’
                 ~ Cheryl from Hong Kong, student at Newcastle University and pre-departure briefing speaker

Other pre-departure events

Your chosen UK school, college or university may also run pre-departure briefings or introductory sessions for students around the world. Ask the international office if there are any events you can attend.

Can't make it to an event?

The British Council has also prepared a pre-departure guide you can print out and keep – this has lots of advice and checklists to help you get everything done before you travel, and when you first arrive. Click here to download the First steps guide.

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