Bringing your Family to the UK

For international students considering bringing their family to the UK while they study at Abertay.

Congratulations on your decision to study at Abertay!

We understand that as an international student, you may be considering bringing your dependants with you to live here while you study. This guide aims to help you make the right decision for you and your family. 

Bringing dependants to the UK 

Bringing dependants to live with you as an international student needs very careful planning. It’s a big undertaking to arrange so it may be worth considering coming to study alone if you can. And we recommended that you come first and have your family join you later to give you time to get prepared.

What is a dependant?

A dependant is typically a spouse, civil partner, and/or a child/children under the age of 18 who rely financially on the main applicant.

Starting your studies prior to 1 January 2024

Students starting their studies PRIOR to 1 January 2024 can bring dependants to the UK while studying if they meet the following criteria:

  • You are studying for a Master's degree that is more than 12 calendar months long.

  • You are a Government-sponsored student who are studying a full-time course that is longer than six calendar months.

  • You are a PhD student.

Who is not entitled to bring dependants to the UK while studying?

  • Undergraduate (bachelor) degree students who are not government sponsored.

  • Students studying a Master's degree that is less than 12 calendar months long.

Changes to the Student Route were announced in July 2023 and will affect students starting their studies in January 2024. 

There's more information on the UKCISA webpages

Starting your studies after 1 January 2024

Students starting their studies AFTER January 1 2024 can bring dependants to the UK while studying if they meet the following criteria:

  • You are studying for a course of study which is a PhD, other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree.

  • You are financially sponsored by the UK or an Overseas Government

Who is not entitled to bring dependants to the UK while studying?

  • Undergraduate (bachelor) degree students who are not government sponsored.

  • Students studying a Master's degree that is not classed as a research degree unless they are government sponsored.

Speak to us first

It’s a good idea to speak to the International team here at Abertay before you make your decision. They can answer any specific questions you may have and help you understand what is possible.


Visas and immigration

Before you start, you need to check whether the conditions of your visa allow you to bring your family with you.

If you do plan to bring your family to live with you, they need to apply for Dependant Visa(s). In most cases they will need to demonstrate their relationship to you, giving evidence of your financial support. The specific requirements depend on your immigration status and the relationship between you and your dependants.

Check on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website

Finances and living costs

As their sponsor, you will need to show that you have sufficient funds to support you and your dependants during your studies here. The exact financial requirement varies depending on your circumstances and the number of people you want to bring.

Make sure you can meet the financial requirements outlined by the UKVI before making any commitments to move your family here. 

Living expenses

Living in the UK may be more expensive than your home country. Like many other countries we are experiencing inflation, which means the cost of everyday items, such as food and basic provisions, is increasing.

Dundee is still a relatively inexpensive city to live in, but you will need to ensure you have the right amount of funds to cover you and your family before you arrive. Check the UKVI website for full details about family finances.


Our student accommodation providers have limited options to house families. This means you will need to consider renting private accommodation. We strongly recommend you come alone initially so you can rent somewhere to live before everyone else arrives.

Dundee City Council has a landlord accreditation scheme to help identify responsible landlords. Please check if the landlord/property you are interested in is listed on the register.

Find out more in the Overseas Pre-arrival guide about renting privately.


Education and schools

In the UK schooling is funded by the government (unless you choose a private school).

Like most places Dundee has what are called ‘catchment areas’ for schools, which means once you have an address, you apply for the school nearest to where you live.

Find out more on the Schools page of the Dundee City Council site.

School age children: children aged 5–16 are required by law to go to school and will be entitled to free schooling if they are dependents of the student who holds an international student visa. They may need to start outside of the normal school year term times depending on when they arrive. Find out more on the Dundee City Schools page for all the details about how to enrol.

Pre-school age children: there are different early learning childcare options depending on what you want to do. You may qualify for free nursery care if your child is over three years old and you meet the criteria. Private nurseries need to be paid for, so please take this into consideration.

Some useful links:


Medical care

Once you’ve paid the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application, the National Health Service (NHS) provides free-at-source healthcare services to everyone living in the UK.

You and your family should register with a medical practice in your local area once you have arrived. In Scotland all prescriptions are free so long as they have been proscribed by your doctor, also known as a GP (General Practitioner).

Student support services

We understand the unique challenges faced by international students. So we provide a range of support services specifically for international students like you to help during your time here. 

Learning English

Obviously it’s much easier to settle into living in the UK if you can speak English, and we recommend that your family take some time to learn English if possible.

There are lots of resources available to help such as the British Council’s 'Learn English' website.

If you have children, some schools may offer English language support for pupils. Check with the school once you have enrolled.

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