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Preparing to return home

Completing your course at Staffordshire University is a great achievement and you should feel very proud of yourself. 

You’ll experience mixed feelings when planning to return home, but we’re sure your experiences and achievements will open-up exciting new opportunities. And you’ll have made friends for life. 

Before you leave there are some important considerations. Here’s a check-list so you don't forget anything! 

When to leave  

You need to have left the UK or submitted a valid visa application by midnight on the day your visa expires. Please be aware that overstaying in the UK after your visa expires, even by one day, is in breach of the immigration rules and could have serious consequences for any future visa applications. UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) undertake exit checks on journeys out of the UK so it’ll be on record if you leave the UK after your visa has expired.

If your visa has been cut short, because you’ve completed your course early, or withdrawn then you’ll need to leave the UK by the earlier date. The International Student Support (ISS) team will email you about this, and you’ll be contacted separately (by letter or email) by UKVI to confirm your new visa expiry date. If you’ve any questions about this, please contact ISS. 

Switching your visa category 

If you’re thinking of studying another course and applying for another Tier 4 visa or switching from your current visa to another visa category, then you should read this information

Not all students are able to apply for a new visa. Even those who can may need to go home to apply for it, so it’s important for you to plan ahead.  

Check your results  

It might sound obvious, but don’t forget to check your exam results on e:Vision, and your emails when back home or if you’re still in the UK. Hopefully you’ve got great results, but if things haven’t gone as you’d hoped, you need to understand your options. If you want to appeal a decision there’s a time limit, and if you have to re-sit exams, then it’s important you know in advance when these will be.  

Graduation 

If your graduation ceremony is after your visa expiry, you’ll need to leave the UK before your visa expires and travel back to the UK for the ceremony on a Standard Visitor visa. This will also apply to family or friends who are also non-EEA nationals. There’s important information for you and your guests about how to apply for this visa on our webpage.  

 

Who do I tell that I’m leaving the UK?

Here’s a check-list of who you have to as well as who you may need to inform of your departure:

  • ISS - Once you’re home, please email the International Student Support team with a picture/scan of the entry stamp in your passport, your boarding pass and your flight ticket so that your student record can be updated. 
  • e:Vision - Make sure your address is correct on e:Vision, so that any correspondence from the University reaches you at home. 
  • Bank - You should shut down your UK bank account before you leave the UK. You’ll need to go to the bank in person to do this. Take your bank card, passport and proof of your address. 
  • Accommodation - If you’re in private accommodation and pay your own bills, check the websites for your utility providers. They’ll provide guidance on moving house and how and when to cancel your contract. Check this in advance in case there is a minimum number of weeks’ notice you need to give. 
  • Schools - If you have children with you, and they’re attending school or nursery in the UK, then you should notify them well in advance that your child is leaving. 
  • Postal service - If you’re receiving post at your UK address, you can set up an automatic redirection through the Royal Mail, so that your letters will be sent to your address in your home country. There’s a fee for this, but it’s worth doing if you are concerned about missing any letters. You may also wish to give your home address to people in the UK, so that they can forward any correspondence.

Clearing out your accommodation

Taking things home 

If you’ve been here for a while, you probably have more things than you can carry on the plane. Check with your airline about how much luggage you can take as paying for excess luggage can be expensive. There are specialist companies who will ship bags and boxes for students such as sendmybag and unibaggage

Sell 

You may be able to sell large items and text books to other students. You can advertise on noticeboards in your department, accommodation or on your department’s Facebook page. There are also websites where you can sell your textbooks quickly and easily, and they’ll even pay for the postage costs. Try webuybooks or fatbrain

Donate 

Charity shops in Stoke and Hanley will be happy to receive your books, kitchen items, bedding, clothes, shoes and electronic items. Please make sure everything’s clean and still usable. There’s also a red charity donation bin on campus, in the carpark opposite Spode Halls.

Refunds and deposits

Housing deposit 

If you’re living in private accommodation (not in University halls of residence) and have paid a deposit, check your contract or speak to your landlord about the return of your deposit. Landlords can’t keep your deposit without reason, and they can’t charge you for ‘wear and tear’ (the deterioration of property through normal use). It’s law in the UK that your deposit is protected under a government scheme. Read more information about housing deposits

Income tax refund 

If you’ve been working in the UK and paying income tax, you may be entitled to a partial tax refund. Read about how to claim a tax refund

VAT refund 

If you’ve bought items including VAT in the three months before you leave the UK and you’re taking them you to outside of the EU, then you may be able to claim back VAT through the VAT Retail Export Scheme. Normally, you’ll have needed to have bought these items from a shop that operates this scheme. Look out for a sign saying ‘Tax Free Shopping’. Find out more information

TV licence refund 

If you’ve paid your TV licence in advance for the year, and there are least three months remaining when you leave the UK, you can apply for a refund for this period.  

Household utilities (private accommodation) 

If you pay your own bills, and have paid in advance for your gas, electricity, water, broadband or other services, contact the provider to check if you are due a refund.

Career plans

Referees 

To help with your career plans when you’re back home, it’ll be very helpful to have references from your time in the UK. At least one month before you leave, contact a few people who know you and can comment on your abilities and work (for example, an academic supervisor or an employer) and ask them for a reference. You should also ask if they would be happy to be contacted for a reference in the future if you apply for a job. It’s considered bad manners not to ask before you include someone as a referee on a job application. 

Careers advice 

As a Staffordshire University graduate, you have access to our careers network for the rest of your life! Why not visit our careers team before you leave the UK. They can help you prepare a CV and practice interview techniques. Once home, you can access online resources through our career portal eCoach

Alumni 

You’re now part of the Staffordshire University Alumni; wherever you end up in the world, you’ll always be connected to the University. Your success plays an important role in the future success of the University. Please keep in touch, the Alumni team would love to hear about your achievements – you may appear on the graduate stories page

Reverse culture shock

When you arrived in the UK, it probably took a while to get used to the language, the accents, English food, the education system, and all the rain. Now that Stoke-on-Trent feels familiar, don’t be surprised if you need some time to readjust to life when you return home. This is called reverse culture shock. It doesn’t affect everyone but If you do need time to adjust, don’t be frustrated, its normal. 

How to prepare 

Preparing for reverse culture shock is made easier by understanding that it is a very normal reaction, and that you might experience it. Home students travelling 30 miles away after graduating find it hard to adjust to life after university, and that’s without the challenges of a different language, time zone, culture, religion or reconnecting with loved ones they’ve not seen in a long while. Appreciate what a brave and challenging decision it was to embark on study in another country, and don’t give yourself a hard time for not feeling completely at ease on your first day back at home. 

Some common issues that you may find challenging are: 

Family and friends 

As happy and exciting as your homecoming will be, it can still be a challenging time for you and the people who’ve been missing you. You might feel that you’ve changed a lot while in the UK, but your family and friends may expect you to be the same as when you left and find it difficult to get used to the ‘new you’. You may have enjoyed a lot of freedom in how you spent your money, who you had relationships with and how you spent your free time, which might be difficult for both you and your family to readjust to. Of course, they’ll have also changed in the time that you’ve been away: you may be surprised by how much older your parents and younger siblings seem. Friends may have got married or had children. 

Customs and ideas 

When you first came to the UK, you’ll have adapted to cultural differences, which in time you came to take for granted. When you return home, it may also take time for the customs and ideas that were once so familiar to you seem normal again.

Challenges can include:  

  • how people dress  
  • how food is prepared and served  
  • how women and men are expected to behave  
  • administrative procedures  
  • attitudes to timekeeping  
  • tolerance for minority views.  

If your children have been with you in the UK, they may also find it difficult to adapt to your home culture. As well as the above, they may miss friends they have made over here and their school system, teaching and subjects could be very different from the UK. 

Work 

If you’re returning to your previous job at home, there may have been changes or you’ve lost touch with important information or developments. You may also sense some jealousy from colleagues who wish they’d had the same opportunity to pursue their education. Lack of equipment or funding means may mean you’re not able to use all the skills that you worked so hard to develop during your study. 

Economy and politics 

Your country may have experienced economic problems. It could be difficult to buy things that you’ve had in the UK or you’ll need to go without some of the conveniences you’ve been used to. You may feel out of touch if a different government is in power or new political groups.