Welcome to one of the most lively, prosperous and beautiful regions of the UK. The city of Aberdeen truly has something for everyone. It is a vibrant modern city, with striking granite architecture, a rich and inspiring history, a dynamic modern arts scene and a stunning, dramatic coastline.
For more information about Aberdeen City and links to the entertainment, nightlife and cultural sights on your doorstep, visit the Aberdeen City pages on the main University site.
The University of Aberdeen has teamed up with the Lonely Planet to create an exclusive new travel guide showcasing all that the Granite City has to offer students.
- Living in Scotland
Opening a Bank Account
You are advised to open a bank account as soon as possible after your arrival. Do not carry large amounts of cash around with you. You should either try to open a bank account immediately or pay tuition fees immediately.
Opening a bank account is not always easy, but the following information should help you. Banks will often not allow you to open a current (student) account until your credit record can be checked. You should be allowed to open a savings account where you can deposit money.
To open a bank account you will need:
- Your passport,
- University offer letter or ID card
- Accommodation contract
- Sponsor’s letter (if you have an official sponsor - not family members)
- A bank letter from the University
A bank letter will be sent by email to your university email account the day after you have completed registration and have both a term and home address showing in your Student Hub.
Only once all of the registration steps have been completed will a letter be emailed to you. This letter should be printed and taken to the bank. If the bank you wish to bank with is not listed on the electronic bank letter, or if they have requested a letter addressed to them, please visit the Infohub, where a hard copy bank letter will be produced for you free of charge. Please note, you must know the specific branch of the bank you wish to open an account with, as this must be included in the letter the Infohub produces.
For further information on opening a bank account, please visit the British Bankers' Association website: http://www.bba.org.uk/ Under the BBA Leaflets section there is a special leaflet for international students (International Students: Opening a UK Bank Account).
It is important to keep your bank statements for visa extension applications. You will need your most recent bank statement when you apply for your visa extension. The statements should be original, formal statements. Print-outs and internet bank statements will not be accepted.
Generally speaking full-time students are not liable to pay Council Tax on the property where they are living; however, there are some exceptions. If in doubt, please check with our International Student Advisers regarding any Council Tax query.
Postgraduate research students in their official writing-up period (that is the year following your supervised study) can request exemption from Aberdeen City Council. You should complete the Council Tax Exemption Form which is available here.
This form needs to be signed by your Supervisor and returned to the Infohub or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org Please note this exemption does not apply to other Council areas.
If you extend your writing-up period beyond twelve months, you will be liable to pay Council Tax as you will no longer be classed as a full-time student.
The Law and the Police
The Police in the UK are classed as public servants. Part of their job is to assist people. If you need guidance or information, do approach a police officer. If you prefer to speak first to our International Student Advisers, they have close contact with Police Scotland Diversity Liaison Officers, local Community Officers and Community Wardens. Our Advisers can refer you if necessary. In an emergency you should phone 999. For non-emergency police enquiries phone 101.
Should you get into any trouble, it is advisable to co-operate and help the police. If you are arrested, you have the right to know why and you also have the right to remain silent until you have arranged a solicitor to help you.
You should protect your personal possessions. You are advised to take out a personal possessions insurance policy which covers against theft, damage or accidental loss, particularly of expensive items. Students can obtain further advice on crime prevention and personal safety from Police Scotland.
Students must buy a TV licence if they have a television in their home. Using a TV or any other device to receive or record TV programmes (for example, a VCR, set-top box, DVD recorder or PC with a broadcast card) without a valid TV Licence is against the law and could lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
For current costs please check: http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/
Further information about TV licensing can be found here.
Driving in the UK
If you hold a valid driving licence either from your own country or an international licence, you are allowed to drive in Britain for a period of twelve months starting from your date of arrival, provided that your licence is still valid during that period. Before the end of the twelve-month period, you will need to check whether you can exchange your licence for a British licence or whether you will need to take a driving test to continue driving. This depends on your nationality. Some countries have special agreements. Further details can be found here:
Buying A Car
Before buying a car, you must be aware of the law and the costs involved. Legally your car must be registered, taxed and insured. Cars over three years old must hold a MOT test certificate to prove they are safe to be on the road. You must also consider costs for petrol and repairs. It is illegal to drive over the speed limit and to drive dangerously. There are also very strict laws against driving after drinking alcohol and/or using drugs.
For information on events in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, see the following web pages:
- Discover Scotland
While you are at the University of Aberdeen, why not travel around Scotland to discover what this beautiful country has to offer. We have compiled some popular destinations for you to visit during your time here, as well as details on how to get there.
The Cairngorms (Braemar & Ballater)
The Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the UK and has everything from castles and distilleries to family attractions and endless outdoor fun. A great number of high and low level walking trails can be found in the Cairngorms, many of which are easily accessible from Aberdeen. The villages of Ballater and Braemar are easily accessible from Aberdeen by public bus and offer a variety of light walking routes to discover the Cairngorms. Braemar is situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and close to Balmoral castle in Royal Deeside. In Ballater, there are a number of walks as well, around the village and into the Cairngorms. Remember to bring appropriate clothing and footwear for a hiking trip!
How to get there: There are direct buses (Stagecoach Bus 201) daily from Aberdeen to Ballater & Braemar, and back. Busses leave from Union Square Bus station. The timetable can be found on the Stage Coach Website
Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852 and nowadays serves as summer home for Queen Elizabeth II. The Castle is open for visitors from April to July. It is possible to visit the grounds, gardens and exhibitions, and to do an audio tour. Inside the castle, only the exhibition in the ballroom is open for visitors as the remainder of the castle are Her Majesty the Queen’s private rooms.
- How to get there: Balmoral is located between Ballater and Braemar, so there are direct daily busses (Stagecoach Bus 201) going there from Aberdeen and back. For Balmoral, get off at the bus stop at Crathie, from where it is only a short walk to the castle. The bus timetable can be found on the Stagecoach website.
Forvie National Nature Reserve
Forvie is a nature reserve close to Aberdeen, at the Ythan estuary. It is worth a visit for its striking sand dunes, from which seals can often be seen on sunny days. There are several marked walking trails around Forvie, starting at the visitor centre at Collieston, which is open April to October.
- How to get there: Busses from Aberdeen to Peterhead (via Cruden Bay) stop at request close to Forvie Nature Reserve. The closest stop is Knockhall Road in Newburgh, from where it is about a 20 minute walk to the visitor centre. The bus timetable with exact times can be found on the Stagecoach website.
Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle
Stonehaven is a beautiful village just south of Aberdeen where you can taste fresh award-winning Fish & Chips for lunch, and take a walk along the coast towards Dunnottar Castle. To get from Stonehaven to Dunnottar Castle follow the signposted walk along the stunning coast (around 2 miles). Make sure to bring appropriate footwear.
- How to get there: There are regular trains between Aberdeen and Stonehaven. From the railway station in Stonehaven it is about a 20 minute walk to the town centre. There are also buses between Aberdeen and Stonehaven, the timetable for which can be found here.
- Eating Out
Whether you want nouvelle cuisine, a regional delicacy, a good old Indian, or a fast food fix, Aberdeen caters for every palette. As a multicultural city, Aberdeen represents all international tastes with offerings in Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Greek, Turkish and Hungarian fare. Not to mention the fantastic local seafood.
It's not just what you eat but where you eat that counts. Aberdeen has cosy bars for pub grub, intimate bistros, restaurants that boast art galleries and views of the sea and up-market hang-outs, so no matter what mood you're in or what tickles your taste buds, you will find something to whet your appetite.
On campus there is a range of dining facilities, whether you want to grab a snack or sit down to a three course meal, plus the city centre is only a five minute bus journey away.
- Getting Around
With a city network run by First Bus and a larger network covering further afield areas run by Stagecoach, Aberdeen is well served by buses. Various ticket types are available to students and it works out cheapest to buy one of the special season tickets. It is also worth remembering that First Buses require exact change; although you can also pay with a contactless card.
You can purchase bus passes from the Infohub Monday - Thursday 9am-4.30pm and Friday 10am-4.30pm. We can provide the follow bus passes: -
- First Bus 1 week
- First Bus 4 weeks (a calendar month)
- Stagecoach Unirider Bluebird - 4 weeks
- Stagecoach Unirider Bluebird - 13 weeks
Check out this downloadable information pdf for more information about transportation etiquette.
The University of Aberdeen has limited car parking available and it is therefore recommended that you use alternative transport. For further information about car parking at the University, visit the Estates Parking page.
Aberdeen is the perfect size for cycling. If you don't own your own bike, the Student Association has the highly successful BeCyCle society which offers a free bike lending scheme. Cycling is good for your health, economical, and excellent for our local and global environment. It's also and enjoyable way to start your day.
Of course walking is the most environmentally-friendly way to get from A to B. It's also good for your health, it helps you de-stress and wake up and is a great way to explore the hidden treasures of a new city. Finding the quickest route to university or Union Street can be a bit tricky, so visit The Urban Walking Route Planner that does the work for you!
- Galleries and Museums
The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the Zoology Museum. These can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. They have been awarded status as Recognised Collections of National Significance.
The Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved thanks to support from Museums Galleries Scotland’s Recognition Fund, while King's Museum, which sits at the heart of the University’s campus, hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections.
Visitors are warmly welcomed, and there are no charges for admission.
Aberdeen Art Gallery, throughout the year, showcases an exciting programme of exhibitions and displays, which complements its permanent collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics and costume. The Gallery's own collection of contemporary art is regarded as one of the best in the country as is the impressive collection of British 20th century art.
What's On in Aberdeen lets you know lots of events that are happening in Aberdeen and surrounding areas.
Aberdeen Performing Arts will let you know about the latest shows that are happening at venues around the city.
Aberdeen has everything a city in the UK should have and more.
Please find a simple downloadable map with all the necessary information on where to buy what in the city.
All major supermarkets have a central location in the city, with a few being in close proximity to the campus and halls of residence. There are also a number of speciality food shops catering for halal and other dietary needs. Alternatively you can sign up to the University's weekly veg bag co-operative and enjoy the ease of getting fresh, nutritious, cheap, organic fruit and veg delivered from a local farm without even having to leave the campus.
If you fancy impressing your friends and flatmates, visit the Aberdeen Shopping Guide on Student Cooking TV. You will find tips for the best places to stock up on the best, and cheapest, local products to cook up a storm with!
You'll find all the major retail chains in Aberdeen, with five large city-centre shopping malls, including the piazza-style Academy, Trinity Centre, Union Square and the Bon Accord and St Nicholas Centres. From high street stores and designer boutiques, to quirky independent outlets and thrift shops, shopaholics will be delighted by the quantity and quality of places on offer.
Being a student friendly city, a lot of shops also provide student discount to everyone with a valid NUS card, so you don't have to feel too guilty about that extra purchase!
In Scotland, there is a 5p charge for all bags from shops. Many do sell reusable bags so remember to take them with you.
Where can I buy bedding, and household items?
Students living at in self-catered halls of residence will need to provide their own bedding and cooking and eating utensils. Information about what to bring can be found on the accommodation website's what to bring page. Depending on where you are travelling from, you might need to wait and purchase these upon arrival. For students living in university and Unite accommodation we have listed a few shops below in case you need to do a bit of shopping (i.e. bedding packs) before you settle in for your first night here in Aberdeen.
Shop Opening Times
Morrisons – From Hillhead Halls or campus, take bus route 20 to the Gallowgate – a short walk from Morrisons. You can walk easily to Morrisons from the campus.
215 King Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5DA
Monday - Saturday: 8am-10pm
Primark – From Hillhead Halls, take bus route 20 to Union Street. From campus, you can walk or take bus route 1 and 2 from King Street to Union Street
143 – 153 Union Street, Aberdeen, AB11 6BH
Monday - Wednesday: 8.30am-6.30pm
Friday - Saturday: 8.30am-6.30pm
Matalan - Can deliver to your Aberdeen address
Dunelm Mill - Can deliver to your Aberdeen address
Argos - 15 minute walk from campus (they can also deliver to your Aberdeen address)
Unit 3, Berryden Business Park, Berryden Road, Aberdeen, AB25 3SA
Monday - Friday: 9am-8pm
Saturday - Sunday: 9am-6pm
Some other stores (some can deliver) that you can buy food, bedding and household goods are:
- Register to Vote
To vote in an election or referendum people must be registered to vote. In Scotland you can vote in local and Scottish Parliament elections when you are 16 and UK and European Parliament elections when you are 18.
You can register to vote if you are:
- A UK citizen
- A qualifying Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK (someone who has leave to enter or remain in the UK, or does not require such leave)
- An EU citizen resident in the UK
You can register online in just five minutes by providing your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number.
For more information
If you are not registered or have questions about voting by post or proxy please telephone 01224 068400, email email@example.com, web https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, or visit the Electoral Registration Office at Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen, AB16 5GE.