How to manage your money at university

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by Eden, BSc(Hons) Architecture  

Top tips to make your loan last

As a student, one of the most daunting aspects of moving to university is money. For most people, the maintenance loan given by the government leaves little room for extra expenditures such as going out for food or buying new clothes. One way to improve this is to budget and spend wisely. I began studying at UWE in September 2018 and quickly realised that I needed to budget in order to make my maintenance loan last for the entire year! This blog will give a few top tips which will hopefully have a huge effect on the amount of money that you will spend, and save, throughout your studies whilst also enjoying the student life!

1. Choose accommodation with shared bathrooms

At UWE, there are many different accommodation options depending on how much you wish to spend and whether or not you would prefer an ensuite or a shared bathroom. For my first year at University, I lived in UWE’s Wallscourt park on Frenchay Campus in a flat with shared bathrooms. In my flat, I shared 3 bathrooms with 8 people. Although many people do not want to share a bathroom, it really isn’t as bad as you might think.  Because there were 3 different bathrooms to use, even if your usual bathroom is being used, you can just use a different one! By staying in Wallscourt Park with shared bathrooms, I saved approximately £1000 when compared to my friends who stayed in rooms with an ensuite bathroom. This is a serious amount of money when you are trying to budget!

2. Shop wisely

When starting out at university, I had never really gone for a weekly food shop before. With many different shops around Frenchay Campus such as the University shops, Asda, Lidl, and Sainsbury’s, it took me a while to figure out how to save money on food and which shops to use. After shopping at each of the shops mentioned, I would 100% recommend Lidl. Lidl is the closest non university-owned shop to Frenchay campus and is by far the cheapest. On a weekly food shop, I would save around £10-15 when shopping at Lidl when compared to Asda or Sainsbury’s.

3. Choose a good student bank account

Another useful tip is to choose a student bank account which gives you a large interest free overdraft. When I began studying at University, I set up an account with Santander which gave me a 4-year free railcard, saving 1/3 on all rail travel, and an overdraft of up to £1500 interest free. This was incredibly useful when I was required to pay my rent before my termly loan instalments had entered my bank account. The overdraft is essentially the bank giving you money for free whilst you are studying. Though I chose Santander, I would recommend looking at some comparison websites before as different banks offer different overdraft limits and extras each year.

4. Take the bus or coach

Although this tip may seem obvious, I know so many people who travel home using the train or get an Uber/Taxi back home after a night in the city centre. The cheapest way to get to/from Bristol city centre is using the metrobus services. These run 24/7 and a night ticket only costs £2 which lasts from 7:00pm until 4:30am. That’s only £1 each way! The metrobus services are regular and stop at Frenchay Campus, it takes around 20 minutes each way from the campus to the city centre. By using these buses, you will save at least £10 when compared to if you take an Uber or a Taxi home. When travelling further, I would recommend looking into coach travel. This option does take longer, however, you will save money. I bought a coach card for £12 which allows me to save 1/3 off national express coaches for a year. As I travel from Bristol to Plymouth once a fortnight, this definitely saved me money. A return coach trip was around £20+ cheaper than if I took the train!

5. Get a job

Another obvious way to save money is to work. The university and shopping areas always have jobs available! There are direct bus services from Frenchay campus to both Cabot Circus and Cribbs Causeway. The University hires students to work in the campus bars, shops and cafes. Also, UWE hires student ambassadors which involves casual work to help the university at events such as open days and UCAS fairs. The university jobs all offer hours which may work around your studies, whilst also paying respectable wages! Vacancies from UWE may be viewed online on the Students union ‘Jobshop’ page.

Read more about your fees and funding options at UWE Bristol

Living at UWE Bristol

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by Lucia, BA(Hons) English Language and Linguistics  

Hi my name is Lucia and I am here to tell you all about the accommodation, facilities, and things to do at and around UWE Bristol. I hope this gives you an insight into life at university from a student perspective.

What’s it like living on campus?

Frenchay Campus is the largest campus at UWE, where most courses are based. Here, around 3,000 students live on campus in the various types of accommodation. The student village and Carroll Court contains flats/houses of 6, and Wallscourt Park have a selection of flats of 8 and houses of 12. Living away from home for the first time and having your own freedom to do what you want is a great feeling. However, things sometimes aren’t always going to be how you expect them to be.

Overcoming challenges 

I spent my first year in a flat of 8 people in Wallscourt Park. I loved my room and my flat in general, the kitchen was a perfect size and the rooms felt very cosy but modern – the double bed was of course a huge bonus! However, I know I would have liked to hear people’s stories before I came to university and would like to tell anyone moving into student accommodation this year hopefully it all goes well, but it’s okay not to get along with everyone.

There were quite a few different personalities in my flat which at times was a challenge and caused some tension . We were luckily able to carry on and enjoy the company of others. At the time it felt like the end of the world but in reality, it was a matter of dealing with it appropriately and surrounding ourselves with other flatmates and friends.

You have to remember you are put together with people you might not otherwise socialise with. There may also be disagreements within your flat/house but you’re not the only ones. This is the first time for the majority of people living away from home and with lots of people of the same age. Do what makes you happy, but make sure it is not at the expense of everyone else – be respectful and accept that everyone has different hobbies/interests.

What facilities are available?

Campus is a great place to be even when you don’t feel like venturing into the city centre. The new student’s union is a great place to socialise and grab a drink, play pool with your friends, or watch the football! There are also lots of events that happen on an evening, including the SU-esday club nights. If you fancy a place to work the new business block has amazing views and modern study spaces, alongside the library with 4 different floors depending on the type of study you’re looking for. Next to the library there is a café/restaurant called onezone, and a Starbucks to keep you going on those late nights!

If you ever need to make an appointment or sign up for a prescription, there is a doctor’s surgery on site next to Carroll Court. You can call or pop in to arrange an appointment, though it can get quite busy sometimes due to the number of students on campus! They also offer free STI tests, so if you are ever worried you can put your mind at ease. If you ever want to seek any support for mental health there are councillors that you can book appointments with and 24 hour online services that cater to all needs, so no one has to feel like they’re alone.

Each accommodation facility has the option to use laundry. There is a washer and a dryer, and they are located at various points within the accommodation blocks. They are extremely useful, and long enough to put a wash on, watch a Netflix episode and come back to collect it!

Near to the Student Village you will find the main centre for sport. This building contains a gym, sports halls, squash courts, private rooms and a climbing wall. Outside there is a huge astro-pitch, used for sports like hockey and football. Off campus, there is a new development of multi-sport pitches, where you will find sports like American Football. There is also another gym situated in the farmhouse near to Wallscourt Park. I would definitely suggest here if you like to work out in a quieter space, but both gyms are equally as good.

Is there anything near to campus?

Yes! The nearest shopping park is called Abbeywood and it has an Asda, B&M, a gym, McDonalds and collection of other restaurants. On the other side of the road, there is a Sainsbury’s and a Lidl, along with another gym and The Range. If you fancy going shopping or for a walk, there are bus stops on campus that take you into central Bristol and even all the way to Bath.

The bus into Bristol takes around 15 minutes, and is perfect for finding new places to eat, doing activities such as mini golf with friends or walking alongside the river. If you fancy a walk somewhere greener, Stoke Park is a 5-10-minute walk away from campus and has views overlooking Bristol. It runs alongside the motorway that takes you into Bristol so it is hard to miss. Campus also has lots of green space, there is a field behind Wallscourt that you can sit on and there are little ponds that house the infamous UWE geese.

I hope that this has given a brief insight into what is available at UWE Bristol. There are so many opportunities that cater to so many different people. University life is a very different experience but there is so much to do and lots of support available.

Find out more about living at UWE Bristol

How I found my support network

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by Desirée, BA(Hons) English Literature

Moving away from home to start university is an exciting experience. Everyone is ready to make friends, join societies, meet new flat mates and learn as much as possible, to make the most out of this new stage. However, some of us can find it a bit more challenging, but asking for help when we need it is always the right option.

What support is on offer?

At UWE Bristol, student mental health and well-being is considered a priority. Because of this there are a great variety of support options available.  They can work face to face, online, or even over the phone. Many of them are available 24/7, allowing you to feel heard and understood anytime.

As someone who came from a whole different country, as well as dealing with anxiety in past years, support and counselling were the first things I looked up when enrolling for my degree. Fortunately, the Wellbeing Centre provided everything I needed. For me, therapy was divided into six sessions and spread throughout the whole year.

In terms of staff, the university provide experts and professionals whose job is focused on attending our needs. For example, you can choose whether you want to be counselled by a man or a woman; and you can switch therapists so you can find someone whose clinical advice can fit your needs. Everyone has been trained to be understanding and non-judgemental, providing us with useful tools to deal with the challenges that we might face.

The right support for me

The first thing I did was speak to someone at an Information Point, there’s one on every campus. They will point you in the direction of the right type of support for you.  Because I wanted to speak to a counsellor, I needed to fill out a registration form, provided by UWE, which assessed what my needs were and gave an initial idea of what we’re dealing with.

The therapy sessions that I experienced lasted around an hour and fifteen minutes, and took place in Felixstowe Court, which is a cosy and relaxed environment.  When the six sessions are over, the therapist who has been working with you, is also able to refer you to other experts, outside the university.

A different option, is contacting the Out of Hours team at UWE. It is run by a minimum of two members of the university staff, who have also been trained to listen to you.  The service is considered Out of Hours because it works from 7pm to 6am every night. Again, this choice of support can be used over the phone or in person. Whichever you choose, there is always someone ready to listen down at the Farmhouse on Frenchay Campus, a space specially designed to be used as a safe place for students to relax and socialise, maybe even grab some tea and a nice book!

The Farmhouse on Frenchay

Other resources encouraged by the university are Kooth, an online platform of counselling created specifically for young people and students and if you’re really distressed, UWE crisis text line, which can be accessed by texting ‘UWE’ to 85258 anytime.

At UWE Bristol we offer a wide range of different types of mental health, wellbeing and academic support. For Desiree, counselling through the Wellbeing Service was the best option, but this won’t be right for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean that you won’t need some help from us whilst you’re here, and that’s ok.

You may need support with your studies and this can be accessed through a variety of sources including your Academic Personal tutor, faculty staff and our peer to peer support system (PAL). You’ll also have access to student support advisors and a wide range of additional support services such as our disability service and UWE cares. No matter what your worries are there will be someone here to help you thrive at university.

All of our support is accessed through the Information Points, which are located on all campuses and are the first point of contact no matter what your question or concern might be. That makes it nice and easy for you.

Find out more about support at UWE Bristol

Find out about the benefits of going on placement from Francesca

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Francesca tells us about her fantastic placement with Sony.

Hi, I’m Francesca and I’m studying BA (Hons) Marketing Communication Management at UWE Bristol. It’s a fantastic course and one of the great aspects is that it includes a placement year. I secured a placement with Sony from July 2016 – July 2017, where I worked as a Trade Marketing and Channel Communications Executive. Going on placement is invaluable and I wanted to share my experience with you.

From day one, this was very much a real job with real responsibilities. My role involved creating communications such as newsletters, webinars, an SMS service and emails. I also got involved in monitoring sales, producing reports and supporting customers. I was impressed how much I was able to get involved in as a placement student. It was a little daunting at times, but I loved the opportunity to gain real experience.

The best part of my placement was working for a multinational corporation for the first time.

“Names don’t come much bigger than Sony so I was excited to be a part of this global brand. “

And I had some fantastic opportunities during my placement. I worked with colleagues across Europe, attended meetings in Paris and Malaga as well as trade shows in London and Bristol. These experiences brought my placement to life and gave me a better understanding of the business.

My advice to anyone going on placement is to take all opportunities that come your way. Remember to put yourself out there and network. Be proactive and ask questions. Take responsibility for your own learning, and you’ll get the most from it. And it’s normal to feel nervous, I certainly did. But everyone knows you’re on placement and they’re often happy to help – you just need to ask.

Going on placement has increased my confidence so much as I’ve gained new skills and experience. I’ve become more organised, which has been useful in my final year. And I now also understand the business world far better – I’ve had first-hand experience. I’m confident working with people at all levels too having learnt how to articulate myself well. In fact I’ve become a different person since the placement and I’m sure it will help me secure a great graduate position. I can’t recommend going on placement enough – you won’t regret it.’

Share Dan’s experience of running his own business venture

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Dan talks about the practical and hands-on nature of his course at UWE Bristol .

Dan is in his first year studying BA(Hons) Business (Team Entrepreneurship) . He takes us through what it’s like to set up and run your own business ventures in a risk-free environment.

“You just have to look and you’ll find opportunities here.” Dan

From working collaboratively to how the facilities at the Bristol Business School are supporting his ventures, Dan shares his experience as a student at UWE Bristol.

Beth’s tips for transitioning to university

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“You’ll make friends so easily, I promise you.” – Beth talks to host Mikey about transitioning to university.

Say hi to Beth. Beth is in her second year studying BA(Hons) History and she talks us through her experience of leaving home for the first time and how she adapted to university life at UWE Bristol.

Beth provides tips on what to pack, tells us what living in shared accommodation is like, and explains how people helped her to settle in.

Experience UWE Bristol through the eyes of our students

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Welcome to our student views blog

Choosing where you want to spend the next three years of your life – or longer – isn’t easy. So you need an opinion you can trust. You’ll want to hear from the students who actually study here.

Our eager team of students have joined together to tell you about their experiences of living and studying at UWE Bristol.

Through a series of podcast, blogs and short films they’ll tell you about the whole university experience in their own words. From the clubs and societies they’ve joined, to living in Bristol and the accommodation and facilities on offer here. Find out how they felt about coming to university at the start, the challenges they may have faced and the advice they have to offer.

Keep an eye out for regular posts and articles designed to help you experience UWE Bristol through the eyes of our students and give you an insight into what it’s really like to study here.