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Everything you need to start university

Starting university is an incredibly exciting time. However, it can be daunting knowing what to bring with you. That’s why we’ve created a first-year checklist of what we think is important to bring with you to university.

By Elsa Tatam. Published 18 August 2023.

Home Comforts and Leisure

When you don’t feel at home, everything can start to become a bit overwhelming. Making your accommodation feel like a sanctuary where you can relax and unwind is an absolute must, and it really isn’t that difficult to do. You can quickly decorate with a few simple bits that will really help create an escape from the outside world. A few ideas could include:

  • Photos of friends and family
  • Blankets and cushions
  • Cosy lighting
  • Bedding
  • Storage
  • Diffuser

If home is where the heart is, the best way to keep your heart content is good food. Comfort food from home (especially if you’re starting university as an international student) will really help you feel settled. Make sure you stock up on snacks or write down a few of your favourite recipes for those evenings when you just need a home comfort.

The right leisure items will also help you settle in and feel at ease with your new living space. A few that we think are essential include:  

  • Slippers
  • Dressing gown
  • Mattress topper
  • Painkillers ('Freshers Flu' is no joke)
  • Towels
  • Hot water bottle
  • Clothes horse
  • Clothes hangers (or hooks that you can hang over your door)
  • Laundry basket


Kitchen Essentials

Kitchenware can be an intimidating thing to tackle. However, before raiding the homeware section and buying everything you lay your eyes on, below is a list of things to that you’ll be thankful you brought with you:

  • Tupperware (microwave safe)
  • Cutlery
  • Student cookbook (for cheap and easy recipes)
  • Plate, bowl, mugs, glasses
  • Scissors
  • General purpose knife
  • Tea towel
  • Pots and pans
  • Can opener
  • Scouring pad/sponges
  • Chopping board
  • Peeler
  • Ice tray
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Ladle
  • Spatula
  • Colander
  • Measuring jug
  • Whisk

If you’re living with other people or in furnished accommodation, try to find out what is already provided before you go shopping - there is no need for five people to bring their own kettle.


Electrical Items

Something that is easy to overlook when preparing for university are the small things that will make your life as a student that much easier. Whilst everyone has different needs, we’ve put together a list of electrical items that we think can make a massive difference and that you will be happy you decided to bring with you:

  • Extension lead
  • Chargers
  • Laptop/tablet (and a good case)
  • USB memory stick
  • Hairdryer
  • Ethernet cable
  • Battery pack/portable charger


Study Items

The most important part of university is studying. Kitchen equipment and decorating your living space may be fun, but it’s crucial that you’re able to do your best on your course - and there is nothing that helps boost motivation like new stationary. Some of our key recommendations:

  • Folders
  • Plastic wallets
  • Highlighters
  • Page tabs
  • Textbooks (check your reading list and buy any books you think are essential. If you’re unsure about any, wait to ask your lecturer or see if your library has them.)
  • Notebooks
  • Student planner/academic diary
  • Sticky notes

Some students will tell you to wait until you’ve started your course to find out exactly what your lecturers want you to have to help you in your course - this is a great idea if you’re not entirely sure what is essential and what is just a fun or optional extra.



Further important things to remember to bring with you are documents and necessary paperwork. You never know when you will need specific bits of information to hand, and you don’t want to miss out on any opportunities as you don’t have something as simple as ID on you. With this in mind, we think it is a good idea to bring the following with you:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • National insurance number
  • Details of your vaccination history
  • Insurance documents
  • Any information from your LEA, the SLC (Student Loans Company) or Student Finance Direct
  • Your offer letter from the university
  • Any documents regarding your accommodation
  • Bank debit card
  • Travel discount cards, such as the 16-25 railcard – these are great for cheap travel home
  • CV and references
  • Student Oyster card (if in London)

This list is of course not set in stone. If you’ve been told to bring additional bits of paperwork or proof of anything, make sure you have that with you as well.


What You Don’t Need

Whilst there is are an abundance of things you need to bring with you to university, there are a lot of things you might think you need, that you really don’t. Remember, you're not moving to Mars, and what you might think is an absolute essential now will just end up taking up space you probably don’t have. A few common things people regret bringing with them are:

  • Old schoolwork
  • Expensive/complicated kitchen equipment
  • All your clothes (pack for the season)

Of course, you know yourself better than this checklist, and if you bake every weekend, then a cake tin is a good thing to bring. However, if you have never baked before, you’re probably not going to start now.


The most important thing to bring is your confidence. Everyone is in the same boat and is just as nervous about meeting new people and making new friendships. Try to take the first leap and say hi to people - you would be surprised how many people are waiting for someone else to make the first move. However, if you’re still feeling unsure, we have plenty of resources to help you settle in and to answer all of your questions. For more information on student life, support and our UniBuddy service, check out of the following links: