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The orientation programme is held prior to the first semester in mid-September. A second programme is also held in early January. Both programmes give new students the opportunity to meet the staff of the International Student Support team, other academic and administrative staff, Students' Union representatives and other students.

Information is provided on adjusting to university academic study, life in university accommodation, living expenses and local immigration requirements. The programmes include tours of the University's academic and recreational facilities and the City of Belfast. These programmes have proved very popular. They help new students to adapt to University life at Queen's.


  • Wednesday 16 September - Sunday 20 September 2020 
  • Wednesday 13 January - Friday 15 January 2021

Programme details

 Expand the sections below for some helpful information about arriving in Belfast and settling in.


    Prior to the orientation programmes, a welcome service is provided at Belfast International Airport, George Best Belfast City Airport and at the Elms Village halls of residence.

    For Semester 1/ Full Year Students (Autumn Semester) the Airport Welcome Service will operate on Monday 14 September and Tuesday 15 September 2020. For Semester 2 (Spring Semester) the Airport Welcome Service will operate on Monday 11 January and Tuesday 12 January 2021


    Are on duty at both Belfast airports between 8am and 9pm on the above dates to meet you and provide you with important information and assist you getting to Queen's

    Further information and a registration form for the International Students' Orientation Programme and Welcome Service will become available on the website of the International Student Support Office in August (for the September programme) and in December (for the January programme).

    Find out more


    To open an account, make an appointment with your preferred bank as soon as you arrive, and check which documents you will need to take with you. Depending on how long you will be staying in Northern Ireland, your chosen bank can advise you on the range of accounts available to you, e.g. a basic bank account, which allows you to deposit and withdraw money and set up direct debits to pay bills, or a current account which offers additional services such as overdrafts/access to credit.

    A range of banks are available in Northern Ireland with Danske Bank and Ulster Bank branches located nearest to the main University campus. Due to its international presence many new arrivals also opt to bank with HSBC located in Belfast city centre however, if you will not be resident in Belfast it may be advisable to consider which banks operate branches in your local area. Queen’s is also part of the Santander Universities network.

    It is likely that your bank will ask you to provide the following documents:

    • photographic identification (e.g. passport/national ID card and/or visa/biometric residence permit)
    • evidence of your UK address (e.g. recent utility bills showing your name and address)
    • a letter from the University confirming your study

    Providing proof of address in the UK is something which proves difficult for many new arrivals to the country. An alternative method to obtain proof of address in the UK may be to:

    • change the correspondence address for your bank account in your home country to your new UK address; and
    • request a statement showing the new address for this account (NB You will need an original printed statement - internet versions are not accepted)

    If you are arriving with a partner, you may wish to consider opening a joint account in both your names. This may allow your partner to more easily obtain their own debit/credit cards in future as well as begin to establish their own credit history in the UK. Banks will generally require both you and your partner to show proof of address.

    Once you have opened your account, the current account switch service can be used to switch current accounts from and to any of the participating banks and building societies.


    The UK offers access to the National Health Service (NHS), a publicly funded healthcare system, for UK citizens and legal immigrants. If you are a visa national, you may have paid a healthcare surcharge (called the ‘immigration health surcharge’ or IHS) as part of your immigration application, which enables you to use the NHS once your visa application is granted. The NHS in Northern Ireland is called Health and Social Care (HSC).

    On arrival to Northern Ireland you should register with your nearest health centre. Your practice (or “surgery”) will then assign a doctor, known as a General Practitioner (GP), who will oversee your routine medical care. There is no charge for basic healthcare, e.g. general consultations at a GP practice or at any NHS hospital (your GP will refer you if you need non-urgent hospital care). If your health centre is closed, you should be able to obtain the 'out of hours' contact number for alternative healthcare during the closed period.

    International staff can also register with the University Health Centre at Queen’s as long as they have a passport and, if from outside Europe, a visa valid for minimum 6 months. If the visa validity is less than 6 months, International Staff Support can issue a reference to confirm employment. Registrations are from 10 am – 4 pm Tuesday to Friday and the processing time is approximately 2 weeks.

    If you are involved in an accident or suddenly take ill, you may need to go to Accident and Emergency (A&E). The number to call for an ambulance is 999. The ambulance will take you to the A&E at the nearest hospital. The nearest hospitals to the University are: Belfast City Hospital NHS Trust 51, Lisburn Road Belfast BT9 7AB Telephone: 02890 329 241 Royal Victoria Hospital, Grosvenor Road Belfast, BT12 6BA Telephone: 028 9024 0503

    Please note that the NHS care does not cover you for healthcare outside the UK and separate travel insurance should be arranged for this. If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA), you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will entitle you to some medical coverage while you are travelling within EEA countries. The EHIC gives valuable protection but it should never be seen as a substitute for travel insurance. Private medical insurance may also be advisable for travel outside Europe.

    Dental care
    The NHS offers subsidised dental services. Children receive free treatment, as do people who meet certain other criteria (see if you are eligible here). Some dental practices work in the private sector (i.e. not funded by the NHS), or offer a combination of NHS and private services. It can be difficult to find a good dental practice which has spaces for NHS patients, so it may be worthwhile to ask colleagues or neighbours for recommendations. If you have private healthcare insurance, you should check whether this includes dental cover.

    Optical care
    There are no special arrangements with opticians so, as required, you should register with an optician of your choice. You will have to bear the cost of any glasses or contact lenses you might need, however, University employees who use display screen equipment (DSE) may be able to claim back the cost of sight tests.


    Once you have arrived we know it might take some time for you to adjust to life in a new country. Should you need a helping hand, Advice SU is available to offer just that. Situated on the second floor of the Students’ Union, Advice SU has four advisers who are all dedicated to providing students with free, independent, confidential, accurate advice.

    The Students' Union is also the home to more than 200+ clubs and societies which you can join to socialise and make new friends. It houses bars, shops and places for you to relax outside of university. 

    It's also a place for you to enhance your skills with Enterprise SU's programme of workshops and business one-to-ones.

    Student blog: Lily West, South Carolina USA, 10 Ways to Deal With Culture Shock as an International Student in Belfast

    Student blog: Tuba Aisha Sharif, Pakistan, International students: Ways to cure culture shock and homesickness

    Student blog: Carmen Chen Chinq Lih, Malaysia, How to Cure Homesickness at University

    Learn more about the Students' Union