Most international students will enter directly into the UK higher education system, after completing their home country's equivalent to the UK's "further education"
Once you have been accepted into a program, start looking and arranging accommodation right away. Places fill up very quickly and demand often exceeds supply.
Halls of Residence
Halls are a great way to meet new people. They are large buildings, sometimes divided into flats where you will have either a single room or share with another student. Your room is likely to be basic, and if it does not have an en-suite bathroom, communal ones will be provided. Halls provide standard furniture such as a bed, desk, and chair. Anything more is supplied by the student.
Most halls of residence have a canteen with food for students (usually at a fixed cost). As an international student the food may be unfamiliar, but eating at the canteen would be good way to immerse yourself in the culture of the UK. Halls are either single or co-ed, so if you have a preference for either you will need to inform your university from the beginning when choosing where to live.
Many international students prefer the self-catered option because it allows them the freedom to cook their own food and on their schedule. Self-catered halls are similar to standard halls of residence, but there includes a communal kitchen available to hall residents. These kitchens so frequently used by students do have a reputation for becoming unsightly when not kept up, so try to do your share in cleaning behind yourself and encouraging the same of others.
Typically, students live in halls during their first year, as it makes adjusting to campus life much simpler and helps in making friends. In their second and third years, some students opt to move into a house or flat not associated with the school.
If you do move into a flat or house, you will have to sign a tenancy agreement, which is a legal document outlining the terms of your stay. Make sure you fully understand the terms and issues of the contract, and if you do have any doubts talk to your international student advisor who can assist you.
A flat or house is likely the costliest option, and you may find it hard to find accommodation that is close to campus. However, many students enjoy the freedom to live where they choose, live with whom they like, and choose the type of place they want to live in. With halls, you don't have this flexibility.