Money, bank accounts and part-time work

Opening a UK bank account

Most UK banks do not allow foreign nationals to open a bank account until they are a registered student with a student visa and a UK address. 

Abertay needs to provide you with proof of your university registration. Letters* from the University confirming your address and student status are available from Support Enquiry Zone (SEZ) based on the ground floor of the Library, or email

However, some banks such as HSBC  have branches around the world
where you can open foreign currency accounts. The advantage to this is that you can make payments in advance of your arrival. For example, paying a deposit for accommodation in order to secure a private flat.

It can also be useful when applying for your visa (if you need one), as you will be able to show your financial status in pounds sterling - some embassies ask for this. 

If you are planning to open a bank account when you arrive at the University, you will need to have the following documents ready as this will speed up the process:

  • Passport.

  • Visa (if applicable).

  • Letter from the University confirming your student status and address both in the UK and home country*

  • If you are renting privately, you may be need to show your original lease or contract. 

Visit the Money Advice Service for more information.

UK bank websites


*Please allow at least two working days (48 hours) for your letter to arrive. During busier periods letters may take longer than this.

Transferring money

You need to plan ahead to transfer money into the UK. There are a number of ways of bringing money into the country, but even the quickest method can take one to two days for the transfer arrangements to be completed. Please check the following before you leave home:

  • Do you need permission to transfer money to the UK?

  • Is there a limit on how much you can transfer to the UK?

  • Are there any financial regulations that you must comply with?

Money on arrival
You will need approximately £200 in British currency (£ Pounds Sterling) on arrival in the UK. This is to pay for transport, meals and any necessities for the first few days.

The University cannot act as a bank. We are unable to transfer funds from another source such as your sponsor into cash or move it into your personal bank account.

Credit cards

Most banks and retail establishments in the UK accept MasterCard or Visa, and some (but not all) accept American Express. 

These can be used in cash dispensing machines and enable you to access funds when you first arrive and before you have opened a bank account. There can be surcharges attached to this, so check with your bank first.

Debit cards

You may be able to use your debit card to withdraw cash from your home bank account. Please check with your bank before leaving your country whether this is possible and what charges may apply.

International money orders

This can be purchased from home prior to travel and can be exchanged for cash at a Post Office using your Passport as identification.

The money order must be in British currency (Pounds Sterling) and can also be made payable to your UK institution if you are using it to pay your tuition fees. Any additional expenses such as living costs should be placed on a separate money order.

Transferring money to your UK bank account

This is one of the quickest ways of transferring money from a bank in your country to one in the UK.

You can use this method only when you have opened a bank account in the UK. The transfer must be organised with your bank either by yourself, on the phone, online banking or through your parents at home. It is therefore very useful to bring your bank’s telephone number and/or to set up your online banking to organise this type of transfer.

If you wish to transfer any funds to the University, make sure to make it clear what the funds are to be used for, such as paying your tuition fees, and please provide your student ID number if known.

Sending money within the UK

If you have to send any money by post within the UK, we strongly recommend using a bank cheque or postal order. Postal orders can be easily obtained from any local post office.

Visit the Post Office website for more information.

Changing money into pounds

It is advisable to bring some UK money with you, as discussed above.

If you are flying in from your home country, there are Bureau de Change kiosks in Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. You can exchange traveller’s cheques or money for UK pounds sterling.

Working while you study

Nearly all international students are now able to work part-time while studying. The conditions stated within your visa will tell you whether you are allowed to work part-time or full-time in this country.

If your visa conditions confirm that you are restricted, but not prohibited from working while you study, you’ll be entitled to work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time, and up to 40 hours per week during holiday periods.

Talk to our Advisory Service when you arrive, and read the UK Council for International Student Affairs page about student work

Part-time employment

Many international students choose to work in the UK during their studies. Part-time employment can provide opportunities to make new friends and the chance to learn more about Dundee and its people. More importantly, it helps to improve your employability; with the chance to learn and develop work-related skills.

Other benefits include improving your language skills – and of course earning extra money! See more on Your pay, tax and the National Minimum Wage.

Where to start looking for part-time work

A good place to start your search for a job is the University’s Careers Service. They can offer practical advice and guidance when searching and applying. They often post suitable job vacancies on the Abertay Careers Facebook page.

Alternatively, try local newspapers, the UK government job search site, recruitment agencies, shop windows or friends and other contacts.

Our students often work in local retail outlets, call centres, bars and restaurants and administrative offices. These jobs are usually better suited to your timetable as the hours can be flexible. It is sometimes possible to find a job related to your course – talk to a Careers Adviser to discuss this in more detail.

Useful websites about working part-time

Tax advice for students 


Tel: 0300 300 3300 - 8am-8pm Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm Saturday, and are closed on Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Applying for a National Insurance number:


Tel: 0800 141 2075 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

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