It is becoming more and more common for international students to study in day and boarding schools in the UK; however, studying and living in another country can be a daunting and scary experience. Therefore, it is important that there is someone in the UK that the student trusts and can turn to if they are not happy or if they have a problem.
Do I need a guardian to study in the UK?
If you are travelling to the UK without your parents, your housemaster will usually look after your guardianship needs while you are at school. However, The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) (responsible for student visas) and all UK schools require that students whose families live overseas have a legal guardian living in the UK to act on their behalf during term time and when the school is closed. Therefore, many students use an educational guardianship agency such as UKGuardianship to act as their legal guardian.
What should I expect from my school guardian?
1. The main role of a guardian is to act on behalf of your parents in situations where they are unable to do so due to distance or timing. They will have regular contact with your parents and make sure they are always kept up-to-date with news of your well-being and academic performance.
2. Your guardian will look after your welfare in the UK, especially during school holidays. They should also arrange a host family for you to stay with during half term and fixed exeat weekends when the school is closed.
3. Your guardian will usually help you to arrange travel both in the UK (taxi, train or bus) and back home (flight bookings, transfers etc.). If you decide to stay in the UK during your holiday periods, they can usually make suggestions of places to go and things to do.
4. You will receive advice and help from your guardian before you travel to the UK. They will inform you of British customs and laws and make sure you know what to expect before you arrive. They will also help you to settle in when you first arrive to the UK.
5. Your guardian will help you if anything goes wrong during your time in the UK, e.g. if you get into trouble at school, if you have problems with immigration or lost/stolen passports or if you need to go to hospital.
6. Most importantly, your guardian will be available for you anytime, particularly if you are worried about work, school, friends, your own family (e.g. if you are homesick), your host family, etc. You should be given a phone number which you can call at any time in case of an emergency.
How can I find a school guardian?
There are many guardianship agencies in the UK so it can be difficult to know if you are choosing the right one.
When you are doing your research, make sure:
- the guardianship agency offers all the points listed above,
- they offer guardianship services throughout the UK, especially in the town where you would like to study,
- they offer additional services such as tutoring or university placement which you may need in the future,
- they are AEGIS accredited (the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students).