What to take to university

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By in Freshers, Student Accommodation. Updated June 2016.

Overpacked carSo you’re off to uni are you? Well, congratulations! The best years of your life are right around the corner.

I’d hate to put on a dampener on things, but I guess you’ve arrived at this guide because you’ve realised that your first assignment is already due. And the title is:

An investigation into what on earth I need to take to university, and what I should leave behind.

Well luckily for you, we’ve done pretty much all the research for you. In fact we’ve written the bloody draft right here! It probably just needs a few tweaks from you based on your own personal needs…

Don’t panic (yet)

Moving to the moonThere are hundreds of things you may want to take when you move to university. Just bear this in mind: you are not moving to the moon.

Most universities will be surrounded by lots of shops and nowadays you can order virtually anything online to your doorstep!

It may actually be easier (and cheaper) buying things when you’re there and you know you really do need them.

If you’re going headfirst into shared living, I guarantee that you’ll be greeted with one toastie-maker per person.

Also remember that you’re probably moving into a student hall room smaller than your own bedroom at home. So there are only a few things that you have to take to avoid being unprepared for your new university life.

Here is the crucial item check list – none of which you should leave behind – as voted for by current students!

Tip: Right now get Amazon Student for free (6 months) & you’ll get unlimited free next day deliveries!

Things not to forget!

We don’t want to state the obvious here as there are lots of items (clothes, toiletries etc) that you will most likely have already and plan to take to university. This list is more for things that you may have forgotten about but really shouldn’t!

Download free printable checklist (.pdf)

Important documents

  • what to take to universityPassport and/or driver’s license (ID)
  • University admission acceptance letter
  • Course acceptance letter
  • Accommodation terms, information and contract
  • Passport photos for societies and other admin. A set of 4 should do it
  • Bank account details (check our best student bank accounts guide for this year)
  • Bank debit card
  • Chequebook – can come in handy more than you would think
  • Insurance documents (see cheap student contents insurance)
  • Student loan documents (and any other bursaries or scholarship funding)
  • Student discount cards (eg. 16-25 railcard)
  • Others worth considering: National Insurance number, exam certificates, NHS number.

Electrical essentials

  • University EssentialsLaptop or computer – (see Amazon bestsellers or Apple Education Store)
  • Ethernet cable – may be needed for Internet in some university halls (get one cheap on Amazon)
  • Mobile phone – obviously. If you’re after a new one, check out our deals comparison.
  • Headphones – to listen to music in peace (find a set here)
  • USB TV Stick – to stream apps like iPlayer, Netflix & Amazon on your TV. We recommend Amazon Fire but some prefer Chromecast
  • Power extension cable (opt for one of these with surge protection)
  • Printer with ink – needed for coursework or lecture slides. PC World have some good prices.
  • Small TV – plenty under £80 at Amazon. You’ll also need a TV license if you plan on watching TV in your room
  • Games console – multiplayers are great for bonding, especially Nintendo Wiis!
  • Device chargers
  • USB memory stick (see current best sellers)
  • Others worth considering: camera, speakers.

Academic resources

  • What to take to university academicPens (and pencils)
  • Highlighters
  • A4 writing pad
  • Folder with dividers
  • Calculator
  • Books – that might be required for your course. Search and order early on Amazon in case they sell out in the rush. Otherwise Blackwell Books offer good prices on student books
  • A diary – great for writing notes in… such as what to take to university (among other things)
  • Other: Dictaphone, course specific materials.
Tip: Check out LivingSocial’s Back to Uni daily deals page for some major bargains.

Kitchen essentials

When planning what to take to uni, be aware that a lot of kitchen items will go unused because they’re either utterly useless or there are multiples of the same thing. Don’t take anything too expensive and don’t take too much. Most people are happy to share pots and pans etc.

  • what to take to university kitchenStudent recipe book – become the Jamie Oliver of your student home! Nosh for Students is cheap and well recommended
  • Wok – this is the number one cooking tool. Can be used to fry, boil, scramble etc… and of course makes a mean stir fry
  • Sauce pan – just one for now
  • Small cutlery set
  • 1 sharp knife
  • Scissors – yes it’s ok to cut the fat off bacon with them
  • Kitchen tongs – seriously, they are like a third heat-proof hand (not sure what they are, see here)
  • 1 glass & 1 mug – for all of your drinking needs (most people don’t like sharing these, you may get these as freebies in freshers week)
  • 1 plate & 1 bowl – better than eating out of a pan. Opt for plates with tall edges to get the best of both!
  • Flat baking tray – you know, to stop fries going through the gaps
  • Swiss army knife – a basic one with a bottle opener and corkscrew will sort out most of your needs (have a gander)
  • Tupperware – great for storing food
  • Coffee maker (or just go instant).

What you probably don’t immediately need: food or spices, kettle (supplied), toaster (supplied), rice steamer, toastie-maker, pizza cutter, colander, grater, peeler, garlic crusher, wooden spoons/ladles etc, masher, measuring jug, whisk, chopping board.

See our list of 24 amazing kitchen gadgets too!

Bedroom essentials

  • student duvet for universityBed sheets – including a bed cover, duvet cover and pillow covers
  • Duvet & pillows – get a tog that is warm enough for the winter and get a double if possible (you will most likely have a double bed in 2nd year)
  • Mattress protector – you never know who has been in the bed before you…
  • Alarm clock – because you’d hate to miss a lecture
  • Coat hangers
  • Laundry basket – or just an empty box
  • Photos of friends & family – also helps make things a bit more homely (get free prints here)
  • Door stop – makes things much more sociable!
  • Ear plugs – seriously, you will need them
  • Clothes – including one smart(ish) outfit. See below.

Bathroom essentials

As with much of this list, students have different needs when it comes to personal hygiene and bathroom bits. So make sure you have all of your home comforts as well as these essentials:

  • Student toiletriesTowels – one big, one small
  • Paracetamol – Freshers’ week might be brutal
  • Personal medication and supplies (eg. contact lens solution)
  • Febreeze – keep your room and bathroom smelling fresh
  • Washbag – including toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and shower gel, make-up?
  • Plasters – or small first aid kit
  • Single toilet roll – just in case…


Most students are always buying new clothes and that’ll no doubt continue throughout university but there are a few essentials that you will need to take to university:

  • Student Fancy DressCasual clothes – what you’re comfortable wearing, but not too many!
  • Underwear and socks – one week’s worth is a good start
  • Smart outfit – for freshers’ balls as well as any interviews etc.
  • Trainers
  • Going out shoes
  • Waterproofs
  • Sports kit/swimwear
  • Fancy dress – worth taking at least one outfit with you (order online with Angels Fancy Dress).

Miscellaneous items

  • Pack of cards – be ready for drinking games and socialising
  • Crate of beer/bottle of Vodka – great for inviting new mates into your room
  • Insurance – you’ll want to be covered (see our guide to student insurance)
  • Small wind-up torch (power cuts happen)
  • Condoms – although you’ll be given plenty for free
  • Your own essentials – such as reading glasses, hair straighteners etc
  • Bike – if you can take one it’ll save you money and keep you fit (try Hargroves Cycles)
  • Our Essential Student Guide to Finance – it’s free and will help you save a lot of money!

Download free printable checklist (.pdf)

With so much to buy, things can get expensive! Check out our Back to Uni deals to save a few quid.

Please do add any of your own ‘what to take to university’ suggestions in the comments! Otherwise, we wish you the best of luck 🙂

Leave a comment

11 Responses to “What to take to university”

  1. Jodie

    09. Mar, 2016

    Washing-up Liquid, Tea Towel, a lock for your cupboard if you’re allowed one and have flatmates that like to steal food,or if you’re just very paranoid like me xD Sponges to wash up/clean, any cleaning products, maybe a safe or something for valuables? plants to make it homely (I will be bringing my Bonsai Tree!!), plants have been proven to increase production levels by 15% so they actually make you work better/more! xD And I agree with Harry Jarvis… I will be bringing many fairy lights and pretty lamps and things :3

  2. Grace

    01. Feb, 2016

    I’m not in uni yet but I’m really looking forward to going and this list is interestin to see what things I will need when I do attend. I’m looking at Oxford! Fingers crossed!

  3. Jessica

    24. Sep, 2015

    I suggest not to bring too many kitchen supplies..A student doesn’t need many of them..

  4. elizabeth

    15. Sep, 2015

    the list is helpful.
    you should also add hair cream,body cream,hair comb,umbrella (the rain can be quite a shock)
    washing soap (both body and cloth)…cardigan,beverages,cereals.
    i guess that’ll do

  5. John

    07. Sep, 2015

    Take your dad or you will get leathered

  6. Sharon

    14. Aug, 2015

    Very useful list thanks I read your site to think of what to buy a friends son and I have decided on a wind up torch and a pack of cards and a voucher for perhaps amazon

  7. Ali

    26. Sep, 2014

    Do you know the rules for bank accounts for a UK citizen that has been living abroad for the last few years, Santander is saying she is an International student but she is British.

    • Morgan

      04. Sep, 2015

      Hi Ali, I had the same problem. Natwest allowed me to open a basic account with them, for no charge with proof of residency.

    • Jake Butler

      01. Oct, 2014

      Hi Ali, as far as I was aware you should be able to open a Santander account if you are a UK citizen registered to a full time course. However, if they are classing her as an international student there is not much she can do. All I can suggest is trying alternative student accounts such as Natwest.

  8. Ruth

    21. Aug, 2013

    If you don’t want to blunt your sharp knives you most definitely need a chopping board – using a plate WILL dull your knives quickly. Also assuming you want to be able to stir or flip your food whilst cooking you will need some kind of wooden or plastic spoons and turning utensils.

    Would say a Swiss army knife is woefully ill equipped for long term kitchen use, and is expensive – you’d be better off just getting a cheapie waiter’s friend style corkscrew or borrowing one off someone else, especially since you’ll most likely be drinking things with screw tops!

  9. Amelia

    25. Apr, 2013

    You forgot about cutlery! An essential for uni


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