As new students head off to university for the first time, both they and their parents will be hoping they have packed everything they will need in the months ahead.
But it’s also important to be clear on what they DON’T need to take.
“Students don’t need to feel under pressure to buy lots of new things for the start of their new adventure,” says Courteney Sheppard, head of customer contact at the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service UCAS (ucas.com).
He says for those living away from home for the first time, it’s a good idea to get in touch with some students already at the university or college accommodation to get an idea on the facilities and items available and to make sure you don’t bring things that are already there. It’s often good to bring some items to make your new surroundings feel more like home, but leave anything that’s very valuable or very sentimental at home until you’re fully settled,” he advises.
“It can be tempting to buy lots of new things, but you’re likely to have limited space and your whole lifestyle is going to be different, so focus on the essential things you really need and will use regularly. This helps maximise the space you have available to you and to keep your spending lower.”
Student accommodation isn’t the roomiest of spaces, and the basic principle is less is more, stresses the National Union of Students (NUS nus.org.uk) which says that although at this time of year students are bombarded with information about what they need for university, they shouldn’t rush to buy certain items such as kitchen appliances, cleaning products and other non-essentials until they’ve moved into their accommodation, as student halls are often part-furnished and students can share the cost of many things with their new housemates.
The NUS points out that students are at the forefront of the cost of living crisis, so making their money last is at the top of everyone’s mind. Here experts suggest what not to take to uni…
1. Kitchen appliances
Tom Davis, Principal at David Game College (davidgamecollege.com) in Liverpool, which specialises in preparing students for entry to higher education, says although it varies in different universities, often the kitchens in furnished student residences will already have items like kettles, toasters and microwaves. “If in doubt, check with your university or residence company,” he advises. “Some may even supply full ‘kitchen packs’ which include cutlery, crockery and pans etc.
“And when buying other things for your flat once at university, talk to your flatmates. If there are seven of you, do you need seven cheese graters? Maybe share out who’s going to buy what.”
2. Too much stationery
Splurging on the contents of a stationery store before heading to university is an unnecessary expense, warns personal finance expert Julian House, MD of myfavouritevouchercodes (myfavouritevouchercodes.co.uk). “Specifically, files, folders, highlighters and a rainbow of Sharpies simply won’t be necessary for the vast majority of university courses, and you’ll be throwing money into the wind,” he stresses. “Take a few pens, a notepad and a USB stick – anything else that you find you may need during your stay can be easily purchased online or in local stores. “
3. A printer
Although you may need to print things out, the NUS says you’ll be able to use a printer at the university library.
4. Course books
The NUS says it’s important not to be overwhelmed by the long list of course books you get before starting your studies, pointing out that the university library will usually stock most, if not all, of them, or you can pick them up second-hand, potentially saving hundreds of pounds.
“The complete reading list from a journalism course in 2012 cost a student a whopping £244 before even stepping into their first lecture,” House points out. “These books can be borrowed at university libraries, sourced online or shared among friends.”
5. Lots of food
While it’s good to buy non-perishable food if your meals aren’t provided in halls, the NUS warns that the first few weeks of uni can be quite spontaneous, so it’s probably best not to waste precious money on food that might go off. “Where there’s a university, there are food stores,” stresses Davis. “Taking all your food with you is just a waste of space and weight.”
6. All your clothes
Think carefully about the clothes you’ll be able to store in your often small wardrobe, advises Davis, who says: “Pack what you need with a few outfits for all seasons, but don’t overestimate the storage space for clothes that you’ll have in an average uni residence room, or the amount of clothes you’ll buy while you’re there with your student discount.”
7. Lots of toiletries
Buy basics like shampoo and shower gel once there, advises Davis, who points out: “These items are heavy, and take up space that you can ill-afford, especially if you have a long journey or a flight to get to your university.”
8. Candles & wax burners
Any kind of naked flame is usually forbidden at student residences as a safety precaution, says Davis. “There have been residence fires caused by careless handling of candles, and you could be evicted or fined heavily if caught burning anything,” he warns.
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