Your essential university checklist

Student living
Helen Stone,-Interiors Writer

Not sure what you need for your first term away? Our list covers all of the vital basics

Universities are welcoming students back to campuses, but imagining yourself being away from home may feel like a huge mental leap (especially after the last year). As with all big steps though, proper planning and breaking preparations down into manageable chunks will make things seem much less daunting. 

Spreadsheet or notebook, you can’t beat a checklist for making sure that no essentials are missed – as well as highlighting priorities and helping you to budget. Start with the basics for your new room, kit for shared activities like cooking, and the tech you’ll need for studies and to stay connected. Read on for the full list below, and download and print out our essential uni checklist to tick off the items as you go.

New room essentials

New room essentials

Your room is going to be your new hub for work, rest and play so think about it carefully. Invest in proper bedding including duvet, pillows as well as a mattress topper and two sets of bedlinen to rotate through the laundry – choose different designs to keep the look fresh. A blanket or throw and a few cushions will provide flexible options for extra comfort.

Check what is already included in your room. Some accommodation providers will remove unwanted items and you will definitely want to make sure that any chair included is both comfortable and supportive. Swap anything that you don't want out to the family home (if there's space) and then bring those items back just before you move out. Last but not least, look for a lamp or two to balance the glare of the computer screen and change the mood of the room. 

‘Students shouldn’t feel like they need to go out and buy loads for their rooms,’ assures interiors stylist Rory Robertson. ‘It’s all about using the budget you have wisely. Think about the things you really need to make a comfortable space and spend a little more on them.’ 

Essential storage

Essential storage

Student accommodation is usually fairly compact making storage a bit of a squeeze. Look for boxes that can stack or slide under beds and sofas as well as vacuum-pack bags – they might not look pretty but there’s no better way to squish down any unused clothing or bedding to store out of sight. 

‘Hanging organisers, non-slip hangers and storage bags will help save space in wardrobes,’ suggests Molly Leese, Partner & Buying Assistant, Utility Shop. ‘It’s also a good idea to get a laundry basket that can fit into a small space when not in use.’ 

Stock up on new towels and toiletries too. Baskets are brilliant for bundling regularly-used things together. Fill one with your bathroom essentials to take to the shower and back if your uni accommodation has a shared bathroom.

Hot tips for the kitchen

Hot tips for the kitchen

Getting the right kitchen kit can be tricky. You can check the inventory to see what’s included but you can never be sure what other housemates might also bring. It's worth checking through the kitchen drawers and cupboards at home and pulling out all the spare items. If the family home has extra things such as a colander, cutlery or bowls, that’s a few less things that you'll have to buy. Remember too that it’s likely that other students in your house or halls will probably have items like tin openers or corkscrews, so you won’t need to take everything.

Another way to look at stocking kitchen equipment is to mentally run through the process of making a few of your regular meals. Cooking pasta is a pain without a colander or sieve, and a grater is useful if you want to add cheese on top, for instance. A basic kitchen will ideally have a set of pans, a chopping boardknives, a baking tray, an oven-proof dish, a cooking utensils set and tableware including plates, cups, bowls, glasses and cutlery. ANYDAY Cook and ANYDAY Dine have some great options ­– check out the sets as these often offer the best value. Plastic storage containers are also worth having for lunch on the go and for storing leftovers.

Are friends and family offering to buy you a uni gift? A coffee maker (machine or manual) would be a real treat that will save you tons of money in the coffee shop. And hampers of longlife foods such as oil, seasonings, posh pastas and jars or sachets of sauces make a great starter kit, especially with a print out of some favourite recipes as a reminder of home. 

Totally tech

Totally tech

You may already have some studying tech, but heading off to university is the perfect time for an upgrade. Check out our latest student laptop buying guide for ideas. A lightweight tablet, for instance, is handy for taking to lectures, while compact printers are now more affordable and better quality than ever before. Finally, a reliable phone is the way to stay connected.

If you’re stocking up on gadgets, it’s always worth using the tech set-up service in stores, which will ensure you leave the shop with everything charged up and ready to go. Ask in your local store for details. 

Little comforts

Little comforts

‘Starting university is a developmental milestone for the whole family,’ reminds clinical psychologist Dr Laura Villa. ‘It defines the entrance into adulthood and is charged with expectation. Leaving the family nest, students suddenly need to function as independent adults and parents have to adapt to the role change – effectively having to let go and take a step back.’

One area that parents, friends and relatives might contribute to is with a few thoughtful home comforts as gifts for the student heading away. It might be a bundle of family photographs, a favourite bean bag or a pinboard for cherished memories and handy reminders. Little things will count: a mini first aid kit and a little sewing kit will remind them that, even though they’re away from home, you’ve still got their back.

Find more ways to support student wellbeing with our tips for making student accommodation feel like home.

The definitive back-to-uni checklist

Studying

  • Notebooks 
  • Laptop/Tablet
  • Printer
  • Stationery (pens, pencils, highlighters, staplers, folders, sticky notes)

Kitchen

  • Colander
  • Tin openers
  • Corkscrew
  • Sieve
  • Grater
  • Pans
  • Chopping board
  • Knives
  • Baking tray
  • Oven-proof dish
  • Utensils 
  • Tableware (plates, bowls, cups, glasses, cutlery) 
  • Storage containers
  • Coffee maker
  • Measuring jug
  • Tea towels
  • Dish cloths
  • Recipe books
  • Kettle
  • Toaster

Living

  • Bedding (duvet, pillows, mattress topper, bedlinen)
  • Blanket
  • Cushions
  • Lamp
  • Storage (vacuum-pack bags, hangers, storage bags, laundry basket, baskets)
  • Towels
  • Toiletries (incl. First aid kit)
  • Pinboard
  • Rug
  • Photo frames
  • Clothes horse
  • Charging cables/adaptors
  • TV
  • Headphones
  • Speakers

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