HOST would love to hear from anyone interested in meeting international students and making them welcome!

Seigfred Prado is a student from the Philippines. After his HOST visit, he wrote this:

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'To be honest, I signed up for a HOST visit because I have been going through one of the most difficult times of my life. I felt like giving up on my dreams because I felt so lonely and I'm missing my loved ones and friends back home. I felt so stressed and I felt like I was missing the most important things in life back home.

However, this visit has made me realise that I am never alone. I realised that UK is such a lovely country and I can always feel at home here because of the lovely people like my hosts. They both proved to me that UK can be a home to anyone. They really made a huge impact to my life.

I am a lot more motivated and driven to continue reaching my dreams. I will forever be grateful to the both of them.'

As a host, you too could make a big difference to the life of a young person - simply by offering hospitality and showing kindness.

After welcoming many students, Hosts Ian and Jane Richards of Cornwall say:  HOST is amazing. We are so privileged to be able to meet students of such a high calibre, which allows us to have unique conversations about their country.






Who can be a host?

All sorts of people are welcoming international students through HOST. The most important thing is that you have a heart for hospitality, an interest in meeting people from other parts of the world, and that you take pleasure in sharing your local area and community with visitors.

The majority of international students are aged 19-30, so you also need to be comfortable with this age-group, although we do sometimes have older students.

You need to live in the UK, but you do not need to live near a university, as students are prepared to travel in order to enjoy the experience of meeting people and seeing the country.  We have hosts from the far north of Scotland to Cornwall and from East Anglia to Northern Ireland.

If you do live in, or near, a university city, you would be able to invite students for a one day visit if you prefer.

Most visits, however, are for a weekend (Friday to Sunday), or for 3 nights over Christmas. In this case, you need to have a spare bedroom for your guest.

Finally, you need to be happy to participate in HOST as a voluntary activity. Our hosts are unpaid, giving hospitality maybe once, maybe a few times each year, because they find it a worthwhile and interesting thing to do. HOST is a charity and can offer only a small amount towards hosts’ expenses after a visit has occurred.

What does a HOST visit involve?

Visits are arranged by our volunteer regional organisers (RO). Your RO will ask when you would like to welcome a student and tell you about some of the students hoping for an invitation. It will be your decision which student you invite.

Students apply for a one day visit (no overnight stay), or - more usually - for a weekend (2 nights). Visits occur all year round. At Christmas, the stay is for 3 nights. One day Christmas visits are only possible for hosts able to pick students up from their university.

If you wish, you can invite 2 students at the same time. Some prefer to come with a friend. Some are happy to share the visit with another student you have chosen. A small number have their partner (and occasionally children) living with them in the UK.

When the RO links you with the student(s) you have chosen, you will receive each other’s contact details, and other information. It will be up to you and your guest to contact each other and make plans for the visit. The student is responsible for getting him/herself to the railway or bus station where you have chosen to meet them.

While they are with you, we hope you will treat them like a friend of the family: chatting; eating together; sharing your interests; having one or two outings; perhaps joining in a community event. You are offering the student a homely break from their studies; and you are giving them an experience of the culture and way of life in the UK. In exchange, they will tell you about their own country.

After you have returned your guest to the station, you have no further obligation. You may stay in touch. You may invite them to visit again. You may find you have no further contact. But their stay with you will be one of the highlights of their time in the UK, and we hope you will enjoy your memories of the visit too.

Questions we are asked


Will the student speak English?

Yes. Some have English as their first language; some have been educated in English for a long time. All must have enough English to cope with higher education here. But some have had few opportunities to use English in a social context, and a HOST visit can really help with that.

Does anyone check up on the students?

EIL checks that all applicants are registered on full-time courses at UK institutions. This authorisation comes from a designated person in the university. This person does not necessarily know the student personally. Your HOST Regional Organiser, who will link the student with you, is in contact with the student and can ask any questions on your behalf before you agree to offer an invitation.

What about insurance?

We require all hosts to have home insurance. This is to ensure that they are covered for claims for injury to third parties. In practice, there has never been such a claim in the whole of HOST's 30-year history. Similarly, it is virtually unheard-of for items to be broken or to go missing from hosts' homes, but, on the chance that this may happen, HOST recommends all host are covered by their own contents insurance.

Will the student eat what I eat?  

Most students are very keen to enjoy ‘home-cooking’, and to discover ‘British traditional dishes’ – often they are very pleasantly surprised! We do ask them to tell us about any dietary needs and you will know these before you agree to invite a particular student. Usually any special needs are associated with religious or cultural restrictions, such as no pork or no beef. Some students require vegetarian meals. Some students offer to cook a dish from their country for their hosts.

I live alone – can I be a host?

Yes. Quite a lot of our hosts live alone and enjoy the company. Some people who host alone find it easier to have two guests at a time; or they involve local friends in one of their activities. Sometimes, single hosts who live in the same area each invite a student on the same weekend, and share activities that way. But having one-to-one attention from their host can be a real treat for a student.

Is there an upper age limit for hosts?

Not at all! We have hosts in their 80’s who are reasonably fit and active, and above all interested in people. Many students love spending time with ‘grandparent’ figures, because they have so much life experience to share, and perhaps more time to devote to their guests than younger families.

Am I going to be out of pocket doing this?

What distinguishes HOST from other schemes is that it is voluntary  - hospitality is offered from kindness and interest in welcoming people from other parts of the world. Hosts provide meals for their guest; run them to and from the local station; and usually take them on an outing. We advise students to have some cash with them so they can pay their entrance money if their hosts take them sight-seeing, and can offer to pay for their own food if you are eating lunch out. At Christmas, hosts like to give the guest a small present so they are not left out. After the visit, We offer a contribution of a maximum £10 per guest per night (max 2 nights at weekends, 3 nights at Christmas). Approximately half of our hosts do not claim this contribution.   So yes, you may be a little out of pocket – but we anticipate that, as with your other weekend activities, you will find this one worth a little expenditure!

How much notice will I have about a visit?

This does vary, but most visits are arranged between 3 and 6 weeks in advance, sometimes longer. If you like, you can set aside a weekend for a HOST visit, perhaps a long way ahead, and your Regional Organiser will find you a student for that weekend. Alternatively, if you prefer to do things at quite short notice, that will often be possible.

I’m prepared to try this once, but must I commit to more than that?

We do not ask for any commitment. Invitations are arranged one at a time. After your first guest, we will ask you if and when you might like to do this again. We hope you will want to stay on our list of hosts, whether you choose to host several times a year, or only one Christmas in three. We are never short of students hoping for an invitation!

How do I get involved?

If you think you would enjoy welcoming a student through the HOST UK scheme, EIL UK would love to hear from you! 

Please contact us and we will put you in touch with the HOST Regional Organiser for your area.

This person will be able to answer your questions and help you decide if HOST is for you.

Thank you for your interest!

What do our hosts say?

Barbara Hargreaves writing after receiving her first guest:

Amazing beyond belief! We bonded immediately, same humour and laughed non stop. Walked for hours and loved every minute.

The Tatham family’s first guest came for a weekend in the spring:

It was an amazing experience for our family. If you want to educate your children about life, internationalism, economics, politics and more, in an interesting and enjoyable way then you should become a Host. We loved having Duoduo to stay.

Sandra Cox, who has been hosting for several years, recently wrote:

You are really missing out on a great experience if you don't become a host. Students just want to see how we live day to day and a bit of the country outside tourist areas. It doesn't cost a lot of money or effort to have a guest and show them our ways and listen to how they live at home. And it is so rewarding.

Contact us

If you are interested in hosting an international student, on a voluntary basis, please get in touch.


Tel: 01684 562577


Leave us a message

What do our students say?

Who runs HOST?

1987 - 2000 For 33 years, HOST was run by Hosting for Overseas Students, known as HOST UK. The charity (Reg. No. 327592) was founded in 1987 by the British Council, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The Victoria League. The British Council gave substantial financial support to HOST for many years, after which the charity became largely self-funding.

HOST UK was managed by a Board of Trustees and run by a very small office staff in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the charity. Facing closure, the HOST Trustees asked another charity with similar aims and objectives, EIL UK, for help. EIL UK offered to provide a new home for HOST volunteer hosts, regional organisers and subscribing institutions, securing the future of the HOST UK programme for hosts and future international students.

A bright future... The HOST UK programme continues to rely heavily on volunteer Regional Organisers across the country who link students with the hosts in their region. As we resume activities (following guidelines and with additional health & safety), we welcome applications from anyone interested in hosting or joining our team of regional organisers.

Hosting international students is a voluntary activity. The cost of welcoming a student for a short visit is comparable to the cost of many other interesting weekend activities, and our hosts say the experience brings its own rewards. We do have a fund to help in a small way with expenses, if requested.

How is the HOST UK programme funded? Most of the income for the programme continues to come from university subscriptions and application fees for HOST visits. Many subscribing universities pay the application fees on behalf of their students.

Support a student stay EIL is committed to helping all hosts and international students studying at UK universities and colleges access and enjoy the HOST UK experience no matter where they live or study. The programme is open to students from non-subscribing institutions, but it is more expensive and travel costs to more remote areas of the UK can be out of reach for some students. If you would like to make a donation to support a student visit and our volunteers, please check EIL's website or contact a member of our friendly team.