A year at university: A fresher’s account

The single most important piece of advice I could impart to freshers is the need to budget. Even if you only divide your annual net income across thirty weeks and keep tabs on your purchases by drawing up a simple table in Excel, you will immediately grasp how little your maintenance loans and overdrafts actually come to, as thousands become tens of pounds.

Even Barclays’ generous £2000 becomes under £70 a week during term time. So almost by economic necessity, you will need to cut costs, but you will be rewarded. Take it from me: the best parties are at the end of term and you will most definitely want to be there!

Quite a large portion of your income will be consumed by the forests of textbooks that you’ll be expected to buy. From lawyers to scientists, from PPE to English & Latin literature students. You will be asked to fork out on anything up to £200 – £300 worth of books. This is the time to begin looking them up on eBay and Amazon as well as of course capitalising on the second-hand book sales that will be taking place on campus during fresher’s fortnight, where a £60 retail price becomes a £16 mate rate.

It’s also wise to begin thinking about the day-to-day things you’ll be buying. Food is obviously the biggest cost you’ll face as Warwick is entirely self-catered. As such, it’s advisable to get hold of an Eating at Warwick card (which although doesn’t technically cost anything, will require you to buy £20 worth of credit to activate it from Rootes Social). This card can be used like a debit card across campus – from the library coffee shop to CostCutters – and gives you a handy ten percent discount on all of your purchases. This is fine for the odd purchase like coffee or sandwiches, but your best bet for cheap food is still the Tesco behind the Maths & Stats field, which can be made cheaper still by getting hold of a Clubcard and racking up those points.

Another cost will invariably be going out. Student rates might sound cheap, but don’t forget taxis there and back will cost something in the region of £12 between you and four other friends, while admission prices can sometimes be as high as £6-7. This may be no sweat to you Londoners, but a shock to the rest of us expecting to pay £2 at most. Take advantage of the UniExpress’s trips into Leamington and Coventry, whose ticket prices covers both transport and the entry price. However it’s the UniExpress’s £10-£15 tickets to Gatecrasher and Oceana in Birmingham – clubs which ordinarily charge a £10 entry fee – where it really shows its value-for-money. Normally billed for the end of term, you should definitely check out these deals on Facebook.

Finally, for those looking to supplement their income during their time here, there are a couple of jobs available on campus. However, these are few and far between, so you will have to be quick! The Union offers bar work and also pays students to go around the residential blocks distributing copies of The Bubble and other leaflets.

This is just a bare survival guide; people find different ways to manage their money. However, follow these simple tips and we know you’ll make it to term three.


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