International students

Social events and schemes

There are several events and schemes you may be interested in taking part in whilst you are in the UK studying. Here are some of them.

Our Students’ Union

There are so many events and trips for you to choose from. Have a look at the SU website to find out ‘What’s on’ at Essex.

International Students Association (ISA)

Chaired by the VP International, an elected Sabbatical Officer, the ISA aims to represent our international students and hopes to bring you together by organising various events and trips throughout the year.


The SU have many societies. If you can’t find one that interests you, you can start a new one.

HOST Scheme

HOST UK is a charitable organisation, they have a network of volunteers ‘hosts’ all over Britain who welcome students (and their adult partners) into their homes for a weekend or a day, throughout the year including Christmas and Easter.

To be eligible you will need to be:

  • over the age of 18 and;
  • studying a full time course for more than 3 months long

What you have to pay

Your travel costs and an application fee.

Various organisations give funding to HOST which may mean you won’t have to pay the application fee. You’ll find out what the application costs when you apply.

Visit the HOST website to find more about the scheme and to apply.

If you have any questions about the scheme you can contact HOST by email or telephone.

International Students' House

International Students’ House (ISH) is an accommodation and entertainment centre in the heart of London, near Regent’s Park. It is open all year and offers comfortable, inexpensive accommodation and a warm friendly atmosphere.

ISH has a special programme for international students at Christmas time. If you decide to stay at ISH it is best to make your reservation well in advance, as demand is bound to be high, you can even book in October.

Friends International Colchester

Friends International Colchester (FIC) is a local group representing Christians from churches in the Colchester area. FIC gives you the opportunity to visit an English home, attend a traditional Christmas party, Easter outing or summer event or just practise your English.

Rotary International

Rotary International is a global network of volunteers, they sometimes run local events for international students. Essex students will be emailed with information about any up-coming events in your local area.

Rotaract in Colchester was started by University of Essex students. Contact them if you are interested in finding out more about the young persons' division of Rotary and getting involved.

Schengen Visa Scheme: visiting Europe

If you are not a European Economic Area national and want to travel to Europe, you may be required to apply for a Schengen visa before you travel.

The Schengen Visa Scheme enables non-EEA nationals to obtain one visa to visit a number of designated countries within the EEA as a tourist, it allows short stays or visits of up to 3 months in any 6 month period.

Evidence of your studies

To apply you will need to supply various documents including a Certificate of Registration as proof of your studies.

Sponsored Students (immigration)

If you have student immigration permission to study in the UK and would like your visit to take place during your term time you must request this absence is authorised via your myEssex portal. Unauthorised absences have to be reported to the Home Office and could affect your immigration status and your ability to complete your studies as planned.

Top tips

  • Apply as early as possible as it can take some time to obtain a Schengen Visa.
  • Make sure you have adequate travel and medical insurance that includes repatriation to your home country.
  • The UK is not a Schengen state so you cannot enter the UK using a Schengen visa, you must make sure you have a valid UK visa for re-entry into the UK if you are planning to return after your trip.
  • You cannot apply if you are in the UK with a type of visitor visa.
  • Make sure you take care of your passport and BRP, if you lose your BRP whilst you are outside the UK you’ll have to apply for temporary permission to return and this can take at least two weeks.

Further information and advice

Please read the UKCISA guidance about travelling to Europe which includes information about applying for a Schengen visa. If you have any additional questions you will need to ask the Embassy you are applying to as the application forms and requirements vary from country to country.

Check the website for the country you would like to visit. To find a London based Embassy/Consulate see the London Diplomatic List on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

Due to the regulation of immigration advice and services in the UK university advisers are not able to offer advice or guidance regarding Schengen visa applications.

Advice from the British Council

British Council's Creating Confidence booklet (.pdf) is designed to help international students prepare for their time in the UK. It highlights some safety and security issues that international students should be aware of and lists helpful contact information.

Further information

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Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.