Living in Leicester
Leicester is a modern city, rich in arts, culture, sports and heritage. A recent £3 billion urban regeneration drive has put the city firmly on the map as a destination for tourism, shopping and entertainment. The city continues to produce world-class talent in sport, business and the arts, including rock band Kasabian, actor Sam Hopper and adventurer Sarah Outen.
Leicester College has its own fair share of talented students too: fashion designer Gok Wan is a Leicester College alumnus, as is Aaron Patterson, the Head Chef at Hambleton Hall, who studied Culinary Arts and gained his first Michelin Star at age 23, Molly Smitten-Downes, who represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, and singer-songwriter James Byron appeared on BBC music contest The Voice.
Diversity, History and Culture
Leicester is a real cultural melting pot, with a variety of religions and cultures at home in the city. Leicester holds the biggest Diwali celebrations outside India, and has more than 240 individual places of worship. The city’s Golden Mile is the centre of the local Indian community, with bakeries, jewellery shops and many, many restaurants making it the perfect place for an afternoon out.
Most recently, Leicester has been in the news thanks to the fantastic, history-making 2016 Premier League win by Leicester City Football Club (known affectionately as the Foxes). The win was followed by a Victory Parade which saw the city come to a standstill as thousands cheered the players in an open top bus which toured the streets.
The discovery of the remains of King Richard III in Leicester captured the world’s attention in 2013 and the recently-opened visitor centre combines modern technology with myth-busting history to create a world-class museum. It was named as one of the “world’s hottest new attractions” for 2015 by travel guide Lonely Planet. Equally, Richard III’s grave can now be viewed in the Leicester Cathedral, opposite the museum, following his celebrity reinterment in 2015.
As the home of three large educational institutions, Leicester is undeniably a real student city, with the amenities to match. You’ll never go hungry, either- restaurants and cafes include cuisines from authentic Japanese to Korean, Turkish, Portuguese, Italian, Lebanese, French, Eritrean, modern British, Spanish, Southern Indian, and more. Equally, the city has a wide range of independent coffee shops, cocktail and wine bars, traditional pubs, and even a Champagne bar.
The iconic Curve Theatre is a world-class venue for the performing arts, while The Phoenix is our local art house cinema, offering international films and film festivals; art; cinema and photography courses; informative talks, and a fabulous bar/restaurant serving local beers and ciders. The UK’s National Space Centre is here in Leicester, and the city also boasts an art gallery, civic museum, medieval guildhall, and a Roman museum.
The city’s music scene is also thriving, with tiny gig venues right up to large theatre venues in abundance. These include the Shed, the Musician and De Montfort Hall, which has played host to some of the biggest bands and comedians on the planet. Every year, Leicester also hosts the Leicester Comedy Festival, which in 2019 included over 870 individual events in 72 venues across the city over 19 days.
Located in the East Midlands, Leicester is very much at the heart of the country, with excellent transport links to all parts of the UK. London St. Pancras Station is just over an hour away by train – and from there you can hop onto the Eurostar and be in Paris in just over four hours!
Both East Midlands and Birmingham International airports are less than an hour away by car and easily accessible by public transport. There are direct train services between Leicester and both Stansted and Luton airports and the UK’s gateway airports of London Heathrow and London Gatwick are also readily accessible. For further information about Leicester please visit www.visitleicester.info.
Health, Safety and Wellbeing
We are committed to ensuring your visit to Leicester to study is both safe and enjoyable. The Safety First publication produced by the British Council is designed to help you prepare for your stay and provides practical advice about living in the UK.
It can be daunting moving to a new country, trying to learn a new language and study at the same time. At Leicester College we understand this, and we will support you in making the move as smooth and stress-free as possible.
While we don’t provide any accommodation directly, and we are unable to source family ‘homestay’ accommodation, the information below should help you and we will do our best in the International Office to advise and support you to find suitable accommodation.
Health Insurance and the NHS
The NHS (National Health Service) is the UK’s state health service. It provides treatment for UK residents through a wide range of health care services. Some services are free and some have to be paid for.
Limited treatment that is free for everyone
The following limited NHS treatment is free for everyone, including international students:
- emergency treatment (but not follow-up treatment)
- family planning services
- diagnosis and treatment of certain communicable diseases
To qualify for any other free or subsidised NHS treatment, you must meet certain conditions. This depends on factors such as your nationality/immigration status, the length of your course, and whether you paid the “immigration health surcharge” when you applied for your visa. General information for all international students coming to the UK is set out below.
Immigration Health Surcharge
You will not have to pay hospital fees if you paid the immigration health surcharge for your current period of immigration permission. The immigration health surcharge entitles you to free medical care, but you have to pay for any medicine prescribed by the doctor, dental treatment and eye care as any other UK resident does.
If you have already reached the expiry date of your immigration permission, it is OK as long as you made an application for an immigration extension before your immigration permission ran out AND you are still waiting for a decision on your application (or if you have already been refused, then you have remained in the UK and are still within the period you are allowed in order to pursue an administrative review or appeal against the refusal).
If you are coming to study on a course for six months or less or are planning to visit other countries you will need to take out medical and travel insurance in your own country before travelling to the UK. We will assist you to register with a doctor once you have enrolled on the course. Please refer to the Health Insurance and the NHS page for more information.
Reciprocal Health Care Agreements
You may not have to pay for certain hospital fees if you come from a country with a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK. Countries with reciprocal health care agreements are:
- Anguilla, Australia, British Virgin, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montserrat , New Zealand, St Helena (not including Ascension Island or Tristan da Cunha), Turks and Caicos Islands
Please note that this list changes as new arrangements are agreed or existing agreements end.
If you are covered by a reciprocal health care agreement, you will be eligible for some NHS treatment even if your course lasts less than six months. Reciprocal health care agreements generally cover hospital treatment, the need for which arose during your stay, but do not always cover treatment of an existing condition. Before you travel, you should seek advice from the health authorities in your home country about what treatment will be covered. You may still need to take out some form of medical insurance.
Specific information is available on what is covered in the UK’s reciprocal health care agreements.
European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals
If you are a citizen of an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, and you were living lawfully in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you will be able to use the NHS in England for free.
If you are not ordinarily resident in the UK, you will need a visa or permit to come to the UK for study. You may need to pay the immigration health surcharge as part of your visa application, if you’re staying for 6 months or more. If you’re studying for fewer than 6 months you will not pay the immigration health surcharge as part of your visa application and it is strongly recommended that you take out sufficient health insurance to cover your time in the UK. For more information the UK Government’s NHS Guidance for EU/EEA Nationals.
Other health insurance
If you are not in one of the eligible categories described above, and your course is under six months long, you and your family are only entitled to limited free NHS treatment.
You will have free emergency hospital treatment, but only the treatment given in a NHS Accident and Emergency department is free of charge. Once you are admitted on to a ward or given an outpatient appointment, charges will apply.
GPs may agree to treat you for free, but this will usually be limited to urgent treatment that cannot be delayed until you return home. You will have to pay for any other treatment as a private patient.
It is therefore very important that you take out medical insurance for the duration of your visit to the UK. Please note that medical treatment is very expensive if you do not have private medical insurance.
This information was correct at time of publication. For updates, please refer to the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).