An essential survival guide to starting university in a Covid world 8 months ago

An essential survival guide to starting university in a Covid world

Brought to you in partnership with the Department for Education

University is fun, but organised fun is better, right!?


University is such an exciting time – especially this year with the easing of restrictions meaning a more normal university experience. But regardless of whether you are moving away or commuting to uni from home, your checklist can feel never-ending. Among the pestering of your parents, the sheer load of paperwork you need to sign, and the essential question of what succulent to bring with you, packing for uni is much simpler on paper.

But we got you.

Here are the eight things you will probably forget to do or bring because, frankly, we did too!


Start as you mean to go on with a rapid Covid-19 test before you travel (with a discount)

Doing a rapid Covid-19 test BEFORE you start your journey back to uni will help stop the spread of the virus and give you and your friends the best chance of a great start.

Make sure you also take a rapid Covid-19 test on arrival(and don’t forget to report the result). Reporting your results is easy. Go to: or call 119 free from your mobile or landline.


Testing twice a week after that is recommended - around one in three people who have Covid-19 have no symptoms, so always good to keep your testing in check!

You can order rapid Covid-19 tests for free online through the NHS, so it's easy and convenient to test before you head off to uni.

Plus, don’t forget you’re likely young enough (lucky you) to get a young person’s railcard (16-25). You can apply online and save one third on rail tickets!

Grab that jab!


If you haven’t got round to getting your first or second dose of the vaccine yet – now is the time! It doesn’t matter where you have it or if you get your jabs in different places, if you are 16 and over you can get vaccinated.

All 16 and 17-year-olds in England are now eligible for their first Covid-19 vaccine dose. Anyone in this age group can now find their nearest centre through the ‘grab a jab’ NHS online walk-in finder. If you’re 18 or over make sure to get both doses.

 You can find a local walk in vaccination centre here, or book an appointment here. You’ll need both your jabs to fully enjoy travel, and it means you can avoid self-isolation if you come into contact with a case and have no symptoms.

Enough cleaning supplies to make even Kim Woodburn jealous


Kim Woodburn Kim Woodburn on Big Brother

You'd be surprised how many people forget the most obvious things when moving away. If you're going to want to serve killer looks every time you enter the lecture hall, then you're going to need to stock up on washing powder. For those living at home and commuting, why not get into a good habit now to prevent teething problems in the future?

Odour eliminators and spray disinfectants are a must in any student house - you'll find all sorts of horrid stains and marks that tend to magically appear in student housing.

Hand sanitiser is also everyone's best friend in helping keep Covid at bay, and they don't have to smell like ethanol. Pack all the fruity flavours you want and keep them in your bag that will undoubtedly become full of free pens, lanyards, and drink vouchers.

Oh and one more thing – opening your windows. Fresh air can help remove air that contains virus particles and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Register with a doctor

Doctor Who Doctor Who

Well, not that Doctor, but the point stands! Some universities have on-site GPs, but it is always best to check and register at to find a GP. Covid aside, having access to medical advice is hugely important and something everyone will make use of. If you’re continuing to live at home and commuting to uni, check you’re registered!

Not only that, registering with a GP means you can have access to the NHS App to prove your vaccination status if you need to, and so you don’t have to self-isolate if you have been identified as a close contact and have no symptoms.

Speaking of which, make sure you download both the NHS app to prove your vaccine status, and the NHS COVID-19 app so you know if you have come into contact with the virus and can protest everyone around you. The quicker you know, the quicker you can alert your friends and family and take precautions to protect one another.

Stock up, but don't panic buy!


No matter what your family says, there is no logical reason you need fifty tins of tomato soup and enough frozen vegetables to last you all term.

But you are going to need some basics. Canned goods are a staple of uni-living because they are cheap, long-lasting, and for the most part, they taste fairly good. However, stay away from the full English breakfast in a can because that's just nasty.

You can also never have enough hand soap - washing your hands (for at least 20 seconds) is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from Covid-19, not to mention other illnesses such as food poisoning and flu.

And loo roll. Always loo roll.

Get yourself some kitchen essentials.

Everyone loves shopping for your home! It's a time to let your creativity flow to bring your interior vision to life. But try to resist the candles and succulents and instead get kitchen utensils.

The last thing you want is to make a ten out of ten Spaghetti Bolognese only to find you don't have a colander, spatula, or even a spoon.

Think practically about what you're going to need, and for heaven's sake, don't forget a bottle opener. You'd be surprised how creative freshers get when faced with no way to open a bottle of Budweiser, so just save the A&E trip and bring one with you.

Always be prepared

Bear-Grylls Bear-Grylls

Whether it be from excess coffee consumption, a particularly long night of studying (partying), or a housemate that just won't shut up, health hiccups are common among university students. Bear Grylls says always be prepared, so that is exactly what you should do (get a first aid kit).

Don't just stock up on paracetamol, but cough medicine, plasters, saline solution, eye drops, and nasal spray, and of course that ubiquitous hand sanitiser. Oh and your face masks to help protect yourself and others when you’re in crowded areas, and don’t forget, they may also be required on public transport.

It's fine; you can thank us later.

Too many cables!


What do a hairdryer, phone charger, portable fan, laptop, mini-fridge, and hair straighteners all have in common? They all come with cables that need somewhere to plug into. That wasn't a joke, unfortunately, just a sad truth.

Though in fifty years we might be able to give power to anything wirelessly, it is still 2021, and you will need an extension cord. You can pick these up from literally anywhere, but if you look hard enough, you can even find ones that come with USB ports as well.

Don't worry; you can still say your phone died to get out of plans.

So there we have it, our essential list of things you need to sort out before you head off to that first lecture. Do yourself a favour and bookmark this article and save yourself the headache of working this out the hard way in the next few weeks!