Before you arrive - your visa and transfers

Once your place is confirmed we can help with your visa application and once your flight to the UK is booked we can help you navigate Heathrow airport and organise your UK transfers.

How we support international students

student on an aircraft

Travelling to the UK

Coming to the UK is the start of an exciting adventure!

The team at Academic Families is here to help make your life easier when travelling to and from the UK.

It's natural to feel a little nervous about coming to a new country or navigating through airports and passport control on your own.

Listen to one of our students talk about how easy it was, thanks to Academic Families.

Tandia talking about her time in the UK

Visas and UK residency permits

example of a BRP

When you first arrive in the UK, you may have a single entry visa in your passport. Once you arrive at school, you will receive your British Residency Permit (BRP) which is your multiple entry visa.

You must always travel with both your passport and your BRP whenever you leave the UK - otherwise you won’t be allowed back into the country!

If you are out of the UK and realise you’ve left your BRP at school, then you will need to arrange for it to be sent to you or request a duplicate. If you use Academic Families as your official guardianship provider, then this is one of the many services we can help you with.

Navigating through UK airports

Finding your way through the airport on your own can be scary. When you use Academic Families' Airport Assistance, we remove all the stress and help you each step of the way.

We can arrange for one of our escorts to meet you at your plane door, accompany you all the way through the airport and help you connect to a domestic flight or take you to your waiting taxi.

Alternatively, if you are leaving the UK, we can meet you at check-in and accompany you all the way through to the departure lounge when you board your flight.

And if your flight is delayed or you miss your connection, we will sort everything out for you - no problem!

Let's go travel poster

From the airport to your school

Sophie at airport with three students

Your parents will book your flights to and from the UK including any domestic transfer flights if your school isn’t close to your arrival airport.

Academic Families can help make your transfers less stressful. We will arrange your transfer between the airport and school, using school transfers or one of our approved drivers. We like our drivers to get to know our students, so we encourage them to chat to you. Whenever possible, we’ll organise the same driver for all your journeys.

What if my phone dies when I'm travelling?

It wouldn't be the first time we've heard of this happening! Don't worry. We've dealt with all kinds of hiccups - from phones running out of credit or battery to students losing their passport in transit. And each time, we've resolved the situation almost immediately.

Before you arrive in the UK, we will make sure we know your phone number and that everyone has all of your travel details. We will also give you a Student Handbook containing all the info you will need in advance to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Multiple levels of support

Academic Families offers continuous support from the idea of going to boarding school in the UK to the day you graduate.

Full Support

Basic Coverage

Emergency Care

Coming into the UK, I knew that I would have problems with passport control and visa issues. When I did, I had Academic Families to call. They sorted it out within minutes, and I was in my taxi and off to school.

It's been very nice to know that I can call them when I need something. They often arrange my taxis when I'm going back home. There's a personal level there too, so it's very nice to know that I can have people to call.

Tandia, 16-year old student from Kenya

Why do I need a guardian?

Although you might think that boarding school staff, host families or friends living nearby can act as your guardian, there are many situations that require a professional.

For example, Academic Families has local staff across the UK and are on-hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We can quickly fix problems such as helping you with your mobile top ups, or coming to the rescue if you get stuck in the airport or run out of cash while in town or on a school trip. We'll also organise your UK travel arrangements. It's important for you to remember that you can only travel with safe, security-screened drivers (never in an Uber).

As the days go by, we're also here to make sure you settle well into your classes and boarding school life. We can always help if you are missing home or don't understand something at school. Of course, we can attend school meetings that your parents are invited to. In fact we can do all the little things your parents would do if they were nearby!

Have a question?


You'll probably have many questions about the exciting times that lie ahead. We are here to help you every step of the way.

Message us via Live Chat or complete our enquiry form and one of our team members will contact you whenever you prefer.

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Quality you can trust

Academic Families has personal and professional experience with boarding schools. Many of our staff attended boarding schools themselves when they were young or have worked in them. We have all lived overseas and most of us are mothers, so we understand how important it is to find the very best education for every child no matter where that might be in the world.

From our headquarters in Edinburgh to our local staff across the UK, our team regularly visits hundreds of British schools. Our excellent knowledge of the UK education system, accreditation by the Boarding School Association (BSA) and certification from the British Council means we understand UK boarding education from the inside and out, and know how to ensure the best education for each child.

In addition, our guardianship service has been Gold accredited by AEGIS (the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students) since 2016 and also by the BSA, so you know, with Academic Families, you're guaranteed to have the best local support anywhere in the UK.

Moreover, our team are trained MHFA Mental Health First Aiders so we are qualified to support our students with any wellbeing and mental health concerns.


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