Living on a budget
'Set up your payments by direct debit if you have any (e.g., utility bills, rent, memberships). Two advantages are: you usually receive some discount based on this payment method, and you won’t miss the payment deadline.
In London, apply for the student Oyster card on the Transport for London (TfL) website, and travel with a 30% discount in the city. Apply for the National Rail Card to travel with a discount around the UK.
If you rent an apartment yourself, ensure that you let the Council Tax office know that you are a student. You could be eligible for council tax exemption.'
Yuliya Kogay, 23, from Kazakhstan, MSc in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science
'When it comes to food, don’t be shy! Go to the reduced section in your supermarket – in the UK, big stores make great reductions on products near the expiry date. First, they reduce it by 10-20%, but by the end of the day the remaining products can be reduced as much as 70-80%. Also, use supermarket loyalty cards – at most supermarkets you can collect points for shopping and receive discount vouchers every few months – and arrange to share the cost of shopping and cooking with your friends. This is not only a great way to save money (cooking for one is usually more expensive, or you may end up eating the same food for days), but also a great way to socialise.
Make use of vouchers and deals. If you want to treat yourself and eat out, there are a number of websites where you can find two-for-one vouchers on food and much more. In Chester, a number of shops have discounts for students and two-for-one offers on certain days, and some restaurants will have cheaper menus before 5pm on weekdays.
When you come to the UK to study, make sure you put some money away to get to know Great Britain and maybe even Europe. There are so many cheap airlines that you can travel to many European cities for less than you think. For example, a flight from the UK to Poland may cost you as little as £40 return. If you prefer not to venture too far, try Megabus – it has great offers and if you book in advance, you can go from Manchester to London for less than £5! And why not sign up to Couchsurfing, where you can get in touch with people from all over the world and stay for a few nights with them for free! If you prefer something more traditional, then backpacker hotels are great for students on a budget.'
Ela Siddiqui, 32, from Poland, now working as an International Officer at the University of Chester
'Don’t get stuck: Travel on a budget. Yes, when you are studying abroad, money is an issue. But don’t worry; you will not be stuck at the library during holidays – there are ways in which you can travel on a budget. Although low-cost airlines don’t offer you ‘advantages’ such as refreshments and ‘free’ check-in baggage, they are great options. However, you don’t necessarily have to travel ‘cheap’ if you take advantage of offers. If you buy a train ticket at least one month in advance, it will cost you around 60% less, while major commercial airlines have ‘Sale seasons’ for flights and package holidays.
Don’t panic if you are on a budget. There are plenty of options to travel and with the opportunity to make friends from all over the world, I have no doubt that you will be willing to do it.'
Jose Angel Garcia Velazquez, 28, from Mexico, PhD in Politics at the University of Sheffield
'The number of takeaway menus we receive through our front door every day is huge, so it’s very easy to be tempted by cheap pizza and burgers when you don’t feel like cooking. Learning to cook simple things like pasta and rice dishes will save you money and doesn’t take too much time, and will make you feel full of energy for long days of lectures. And always remember to eat a good breakfast!'
Amy McMullen, 21, from the UK, English Literature at Cardiff University
'Many students prefer working part-time and getting some extra cash. However, only take a job if you think you can handle it, with the rigorous workload that uni piles on you.'
Pragya Gupta, 22, from India, Master’s in Carbon Finance from the University of Edinburgh Business School
With thanks to Education UK’s 2012 Student Journalist competition winners.