Life in UK & Leicester

Diversity, History and Culture  |  Shop ’til You Drop  |  Location, Location, Location  |  Health, Safety and Wellbeing  |  Accommodation Guide  |  Health Insurance and the NHS

Living in Leicester

Leicester is 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.

Leicester also has one of the most vibrant and multicultural populations in the country. This diversity gives the city a well-earned reputation for tolerance and respect.

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’s grave can now be viewed in the cathedral opposite, 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 2016 saw 780 shows in 65 venues over 19 days.

Shop ’til You Drop

Leicester is a destination that is much loved by shoppers and bargain hunters alike. The Highcross shopping centre has all the large stores including household names like John Lewis, Next, Hugo Boss, Apple, Debenhams and Zara.

But there’s more to the shopping culture of Leicester than the Highcross. The city centre is packed with the usual highstreet stores, and of course there’s the boutiques of The Lanes – come here for everything from vintage fashion to secondhand books, fairtrade stores, local jewellers, and appealing delis.

The city also hosts a famous covered market six days a week, which is the largest in Europe. Eating local (and healthily) doesn’t have to cost the earth, and you can find everything from fresh fruit and veg at unbeatable prices to delicious local cheese and fresh fish.

Location, Location, Location

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

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 highlights some of the safety and security issues you will need to be aware of, offers sensible advice and lists organisations to contact if you need help.

Accommodation Guide

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.

Self-Catering Student Halls of Residence

A student halls of residence is a large building that is split into apartments, and each of these apartments contains a number of lockable study bedrooms. Some will have en-suite facilities and some will have communal bathrooms – it varies from hall to hall. You will usually have a shared kitchen and living space with the other learners in your apartment.

These are owned and managed by private companies, and the cost is roughly £75 to £145 per week depending on location and standard, which generally includes gas, electricity and water bills. Most also include Internet usage. A refundable security deposit of approximately £200-£250 is generally also required.

‘Self-catering’ means food is not included and you will have to cook for yourself. We recommend you budget £50 per week for food if you intend to prepare your own food; more if you plan to eat out at restaurants.

You are generally required to bring or buy your own bedding and cooking utensils.

Please note that most student accommodation companies insist upon payment of rent in advance, although they usually allow instalments (perhaps 2-3 per year).

You should be able to arrange accommodation is a halls of residence while still in your home country. A list of student halls of residence is attached. Please note that in the UK once you have booked the accommodation the contract is for the whole academic year, September-June.

Shared Accommodation (Houses / Flats)

This is where you live in a house rented by a group of young people, usually shared between 3-4 other students. The kitchen, bathroom and living room are shared and each person has their own bedroom. Some will be available with basic furnishings and appliances but many will not. This is something you will need to check.

This type of accommodation is typically £70-£120 per week per room, but this does not include food or charges for gas, water and electricity, which are shared with other tenants in the house.

Private Accommodation (Houses / Flats)

There are plenty of options in Leicester for renting houses or flats from private landlords. This is often the best option for families or couples. Some properties will be available with basic furnishings and appliances but many will not. This is something you will need to check.

The cost could range from £400 to £700 per calendar month depending on the size of the house or flat. This would not include charges for gas, water, electricity and internet etc.

Private accommodation and shared accommodation is more difficult to arrange while you are still overseas. We strongly recommend that you view the property and in the case of shared accommodation, meet other tenants in the house, before you commit to pay any deposit or sign any contract. These contracts are legal documents and you are legally bound by the terms and conditions.

We recommend that you arrange temporary accommodation in a hostel, a hotel or in a bed and breakfast for when you first arrive to allow you time to look at private shared accommodation options before making your decision.

Further Information

We do not recommend any particular accommodation, but we can provide you with information on options to help you make a decision. You will need to consider factors such as on-site security and the number of rooms/other occupants, as well as cost and location, to find the place that is most suitable for you.

Further information on student accommodation options is available from the International Office: See our accomodation guide.

Note that if you are accepted onto a course at Leicester College that leads to a qualification awarded by our partner, De Montfort University (such as a Foundation Degree or HND etc.), then you can apply for a place in De Montfort’s student 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 do not have to pay for hospital fees if you come from a country with a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK:

  • Nationals of countries in the European Economic Area (see note below)
  • Nationals of: Armenia; Azerbaijan; Georgia; Kazakhstan; Kyrgystan; Moldova; New Zealand; Russia; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; and Uzbekistan
  • Residents of Anguilla; Australia; Barbados; Bosnia and Herzegovina; British Virgin Islands; Channel Islands; Croatia; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Isle of Man; Macedonia; Montenegro; Montserrat; Serbia; St Helena; and 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.

If you are a Swiss national or a national of one of the member states of the European Union who has come to study in the UK from Switzerland, you will have the same healthcare eligibility as European Economic Area (EEA) nationals (see below). However, this does not apply to you if you are a national of Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and you have been resident in Switzerland before coming to the UK.

European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals

All European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before coming to the UK. This card entitles the holder and their family to full NHS treatment on the same basis as the student categories described above.

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).