Great 'Your Top Tips For New Uni Students' Hunt



  • My ten cents now... :)

    Insurance - definitely worth getting, but look around and investgate! E.g.... I discovered that my laptop wouldn't be covered by my "room insurance", as it's considered a portable object... however somehow as it was purchased on my dad's credit card, HIS extensive insurance contract provided by his work covered the loss/theft of my laptop in more than 40 countries.... :)

    Your stuff - write an inventory when you're moving in, sounds so ridiculous but you will forget so much when you're moving out after the 1st year (who thinks of retrieving their ice cube trays?? - not me :( ) And you'll end up buying half a kitchen all over again for 2nd year.

    Keep a stock of pre-bought sweets/chocolate/booze (if you can make it last) to prevent you nipping to the local newsagents at a weak or time-pressed moment and spending a RIDICULOUS amount on food for no good reason. Unfortunately,I cannot buy chocolate this way as I will just eat it all!

    When a car may be available at the beginning/end of terms, stock up on big cheap bags of pasta, tins and jars, and bottles - we all know it's cheaper to buy in bulk but if you're walking it's not gonna happen! Online shopping is an option, but on a similar note you can organise a shopping trip with flatmates and share a taxi back - walking there, my local Asda has taxis that wait in the carpark, and cost £5 back to halls. No collapsing under the shopping for you, and you can't find whoopsies online.... eh, eh? :)

    Going out - predrink, or if heading out early find the bars that have good offers (e.g. a popular bar near me offers a bottle of wine very cheap if it's before 9pm, and my local pub is occasionally cheaper than buying a bottle of Blossom Hill wine in the local shop!!) Look up club nights, and make an effort to get flyers and make it to the doors before 10/11pm - club entry prices are often cheaper then. Afterwards, consider night buses only if there's just you travelling - if there's a group of 4 or 5 then a taxi will nearly always be cheaper come home time! Oh, and train yourself to post-snack on toast or instant noodles - these two are GOOD drunk food, and much cheaper than a takeaway that you may well not be able to taste/don't really want/fall asleep on by this point....

    Keep an eye out for pub meal deals and student discounts - e.g. by the end of my first year, it was second nature to try to go to the pub for sunday lunch in even numbers of people, and only go for a chinese buffet in the week after 10pm...
  • Ooh, just been reminded of something from another thread...

    If you are a cinema junkie, find out if there is a student cinema on campus. This will normally entail a projector and the biggest lecture hall on campus and will cost about £3 a film, possibly less if your student cinema runs any kind of discount deal. In the time I was there the York one had a regular viewer discount card which got you half price entry into films and a 'bring a friend for free' offer on Sunday nights. You should be able to get a decent mix of films - York used to show a 'classic' (something like Wayne's World or The Sound of Music) on a Sunday night, a foreign film or documentary on Monday and blockbusters on Thursday and Friday.

    It's hugely cheaper than a cinema ticket, especially if you're not on Orange so can't go to Orange Wednesdays (though if you can I advise you to take advantage of that), and you won't wait too long for things to come round - normally the big summer hits come on the programme in the autumn term, and the Oscars stuff comes around after Christmas or at Easter.

    (Also - shameless plug alert! - if anyone has York specific questions feel free to PM me, I'm more than happy to help if I can.)
    "A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." - Tyrion Lannister
    Married my best friend 1st November 2014
    Loose = the opposite of tight (eg "These trousers feel a little loose")
    Lose = the opposite of find/gain (eg "I'm going to lose weight this year")
  • Ooh, to the above post - our local pub actually had film nights, I'm not sure if they even charged entry (wouldn't want to push away regulars, and relying on drinks sales I guess :)) and obviously, film societies will organise projection nights :)
  • Hey, I've been flicking through these and think they're great. However, if you're going to Oxford or Cambridge, then things work slightly differently.

    Firstly, employment during term time is out of the question. Oxbridge colleges tend to have rules banning you from taking paid work during term time. Even if yours doesn't, or you don't care about the rules, then you will not have the time to fit in a job. Equally, you don't want too many work commitments during the Christmas and Easter holidays because you will most likely have vac work and revision to do. However, the summer vac is stupidly long and you will need a job to stop yourself getting bored silly! Personally, I find living off my loan, small grant and university-provided bursary fine; in-college accommodation is generally cheaper and more convenient than living out.

    My rent next term for an ensuite room in a new-built kitchen of six people will be about £950 for the room, energy, heating and internet. Cambridge sometimes charges your internet by the gigabyte, but the IT staff show you how to check the uni's cache first to save on costs. Most Oxford colleges don't charge for data, as far as I'm aware. iPlayer is allowed on college networks, but only through your web browser; the standalone application on your desktop uses peer-to-peer methods which choke up networks. JCRs have TVs in them, as do some bars.

    Railcards: if you have a significant other elsewhere or plan on travelling regularly during term, I'd advise getting one. I see my girlfriend in Brighton at the end of each term and the railcard has almost paid for itself through that alone; it would only take one more journey on top of that during the year to break even.

    Food: food in hall (Oxford) or the buttery (Cambridge) varies in quality and price between colleges. Generally if you don't have access to a kitchen in college then your food will be subsidised. Many colleges will only allow toasters and kettles in rooms, but this varies so check with yours before you go :)

    On the food front, I'd like to bring to your attention:
    • "Long life" bread. I often found normal bread went mouldy or stale by the time I got to the end. The long life stuff you can find in supermarkets (particularly Sainsburys) is a little cardboardy to start with, but — and here's the magic part — it doesn't get any staler — even after a week and a half on a sunny shelf! It's a bit like the lembas bread the Hobbits eat in Lord of the Rings.
    • Toaster bags: these are good to make toasties with if you don't have an oven. Plus you can do slices of thin-base pizza in them too. Spend the couple of extra pounds it costs to get sturdy ones rather than the greaseproof-paper variety; they'll last much longer.
    • College bars: £1.90-ish a pint, anyone? They tend to be well along the cosy, pub-like end of the spectrum, but they're a good place to meet people, unwind and have beer/cider/girly drinks at good prices. However, pre-lash is good if you're going out, and wine is the most cost-effective way to get squiffy.
    • Buy milk in pint bottles. Check the use-bys to make sure you get the longest lead-in you can.
    • If you like cola — it gets me up for my 9am lectures — then make sure you spent a little time checking out the special offers. They tend to change fairly often, but there's often quite a saving to be made if you buy a few weeks' worth at a time. It's not always the largest packs that offer best value, since the deals on six-packs often are cheaper still. I quickly work it out each time I'm there.

    In Oxford, OUSU are not NUS affiliated. This means we don't get NUS cards, which sucks somewhat. However, don't be afraid of using your Bod cards (the Oxford equivalent) when you're asking for a student discount, even at home.

    Gowns and academic wear: I got a card from Ede and Ravenscroft in my college welcome pack, and their prices are higher than other shops'. You can save a few pounds by buying from another supplier's website or shop.

    Oh, and books: most you can get from college libraries or the faculty libraries. However, some are handy to have a copy of, particularly core textbooks if your subject uses those. I check Amazon, and Book Butler to find the cheapest copies.

    A word for chemists, in particular Oxford ones: don't splash out loads for a brand new copy of the latest Atkins book. You will have a very expensive doorstop, and within a couple of years a new edition of your doorstop will be brought out, where all the chapters have been jiggled round but nothing else. Buy a second-hand copy of the books of his (and in general, if it's cheaper) your tutor specifies instead. Do not bring a plastic labcoat, as these will dissolve and melt onto your skin if they get splashed. Bring a cotton one. Safety specs will be supplied when you go to your lab induction.

    Finally, punting :):) most colleges either have their own punts or hire some for the summer term at a couple of pounds per head, which you can then book for free. This is a massive discount on the £18/hr charged to the public, and is cracking fun. Definitely something to do with family if they come up when it's warm!

    Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!

  • Gowns and academic wear: I got a card from Ede and Ravenscroft in my college welcome pack, and their prices are higher than other shops'. You can save a few pounds by buying from another supplier's website or shop.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Ede and Ravenscroft were the only company that supplied academic robes? Certainly everyone I know who's graduated in recent years had to get theirs from there. I could be wrong of course though.
    "A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." - Tyrion Lannister
    Married my best friend 1st November 2014
    Loose = the opposite of tight (eg "These trousers feel a little loose")
    Lose = the opposite of find/gain (eg "I'm going to lose weight this year")
  • Invest in a good student cookery book. I can highly recommend Beyond Baked Beans (also comes in Green for veggies and Budget versions), and had a housemate who swore by The Student Cookbook (orange and yellow cover with white circles).

    The Student Cookbook is fantastic. I bought this for my son this summer so he could learn to cook before going away, but I reckon I might be holding onto it myself and he can get his own!

    And shop at Aldi! You may get £15 off with TopCashBack from Tesco or Sainsburys but it still works out more expensive. You'll save at least third on your shopping bill every week. And the caramel chunk ice cream is better than Ben and Jerrys :j
  • As to not working during term-time, I work 15 and a half hours a week & find it doesn't interfere with my Uni work at all. Its all about time management haha ! Unless your course is 9-5 everyday with assignments & essays etc due every week, working a few hours a week shouldn't be a problem ;). Try to find a flexible job, I get holidays that i can take whenever & a flexi time allowance :cool:.

    Whats meant to be will always find its way...;)
  • I thought Ede and Ravenscroft were the only company that supplied academic robes?

    That's what I thought too, but my friend managed to get her commoners' gown, mortarboard and sub fusc tie from somewhere else in Oxford. Can't remember the name though :huh:
  • Zack1
    Zack1 Posts: 1,433 Forumite
    edited 26 August 2009 at 2:33PM
    I'm going to be a new student, so have read through a lot of this, very useful tips. One thing I would say with regard to the people talking about savings is that it’s very good advice, but I've found Natwest's interest rates to be awful recently (well when I looked back in June/July time because my interest had been cut to about ¼ of what it was). So I looked for alternatives but kept my ISA there for the time being (plus I’ve already moved it once this year).

    One of the alternatives I found which I now use (I've maxed out my ISA :( ) is Alliance & Leicester. The premier under 21 current account gives you 5% interest on balances up to £1,000 until July next year (if you are under 21, if you are over 21 sign up for the other current account that gives 6%+ IIRC). Interest is paid monthly for that, whereas their savings ones are paid yearly so I’m avoiding them (despite having 2 setup). I think it creates a savings account linked to the current account, as I’m pretty sure I didn’t apply for 2 savings accounts but have 3 accounts in online banking, but make sure for anything under £1,000 you use the current account, as I'm pretty sure 5% is the best, or certainly one of the best, around.

    So when you have spare money/the overdraft activated transfer it from Natwest (or wherever your main student account is) to the A&L current account, not the savings account, despite the fact you are saving

    A note about withdrawing the money…. It supports faster payments which means payments show up at the other end within a few hours (instantly for me with Natwest, but that depends on your bank/branch). Problem is A&L limit you to 1 faster payment a day and that has to be under £250 or it’ll go through as a standard payment and take a few days. I didn’t realise and tried to take £300 out, it said it had gone through and only on investigating why it hadn’t showed up did I realise those rules. So IF you feel you may need more than £250 at short notice, then create a payment of under £250 to each account you have (I’ve got 2 at Natwest & 1 at Halifax, so could get £750 instantly if I needed it (transfer Halifax across to Natwest)).

    Hopefully that all makes sense anyway! :)

    Oh and A&L were doing a promotion where referred customers get £25, as does the person who referred them. I’m not clear on the site rules on this but with or without the bonus I think it’s the best option, and I’m certainly not recommending it because of the bonus, but that’s another incentive for people to get one.

    Edit: Just checked it does still exist, if anyone wants it then you just need to PM your first name & email address for me to recommend you
  • I don't know how much these apply to non english students but they might.

    First of all books: Everyone will tell you that because your books are cheaper you dont spend as much on them. This is a big fat lie. I am going into my second year and have so far spent over £120 on books, using as many tricks as I can. I havent finished buying yet as I have ten or more books still to get and at least two of them cost £30. So...

    Use Amazon. A lot. It's cheaper, you can buy some second hand as you may end up writing in them anyway (check when buying second hand that the postage doesnt make the price higher than new with supersaver delivery).

    Use vouchers. If you get waterstones points save them for uni books, if you get a voucher because you did surveys save them for uni books.

    I get my first terms books before term starts so I can read them without the time pressure (it helps a lot! trust me I was one of few who managed to read everything) and that means I don't have my loan yet. It's one of the few things I use my overdraft for because I know I will get the money later.

    DO NOT USE YOUR OVERDRAFT IF YOU CAN AVOID IT IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE THE MONEY TO BRING IT BACK INTO THE POSITIVE IS COMING FROM! I'm serious I have friends who spent all their money and all their overdraft and now cannot afford anything at all. If you don't know where the money is coming from don't spend it.

    Fresher's fair is a godsend. Take everything that you are offered if it is free, if they offer pay a pound for a discount to a club get it. Chances are you will use everything- case in point someone broke their plates so started using a scout frisbee they got at freshers, saved them the money buying a new plate. I even used some of the stuff I got to make stockings for people at christmas.

    Get a decent deal on your phone. You will spend a fortune on pay as you go. I'm on Orange sim only and get 200 minutes and unlimited texts for £15 which is plenty. on a non money note make sure you put peoples numbers in as something you will recognise cos all the names will get duplicated. for instance if you meet someone called Dom when your checking out rugby...put him in as 'Dom rugby'.

    What else have I got...non money related get posters and save cool looking leaflets etc to put on your walls. big empty walls don't say dome sweet home. Oh and make sure you have a big blanket or something because your heating will go at some point.

    Other than making use of pound shops (and charity shops which are fantastic if you spent all your money on going out and need some less expensive stuff-as an english student I buy loads of non course related books and things) I can't really think of anything else.

    If anyone needs to ask about anything Uni I'm happy to answer if I can.
This discussion has been closed.
Meet your Ambassadors


  • All Categories
  • 343.1K Banking & Borrowing
  • 250.1K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.7K Spending & Discounts
  • 235.2K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 607.9K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 173K Life & Family
  • 247.8K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.9K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards