Local or commuting students

Each year a significant proportion of the University’s first year students choose to live off-campus with their family, partner, friends or by themselves. Staying local or commuting to university may not be the typical situation for most students, but many students find it to be a better option for them for a variety of reasons. Outlined below are a few of the benefits, challenges and some tips from students who have been there and done it.

Benefits of staying local or commuting

There are lots of reasons that students decide to travel to university from their family home or not to move into university accommodation: finance, convenience, family commitments, to name a few, and there are lots of benefits too.

  • Easier transition to being a student, as your home life is likely to change less significantly than those moving away from home. 
  • Already knowing the local area.
  • Saving money - with university costs recent escalation, living at home should make your finances less strained.
  • Support - you are more likely to have an established network of support around you for those stressful times.

Challenges of being a local student

  • Making friends - you may feel that while other students simply fall into friendship groups within their accommodation, you have to make more of an effort. Remember that it is worth making that extra effort, and get involved in university life, as you'll find it valuable to have friends around you who understand what you're going through. 
  • Travelling - this is likely to become a significant aspect of your university life. Make sure you know all the best ways to get around.
  • Getting back from nights out - if you know someone who lives close to you, why not try to arrange parallel nights out and agree to travel together?
  • Don't miss out - making use of the many facilities the University has available for you (library, sports centre, clubs and societies, study spaces), may be more difficult when you don't live next to them, but remember it's all part of the experience so you should make the most of them. Having an active university life will help you to feel part of the University community.

Tips from current students

Get involved

  • Join societies, sign up for a sports team, attend some events, get a job on campus, but try not to go home at every available opportunity, as you don't want to miss out on the campus buzz.
  • Sign up for the University's Twitter feed and like the University's Facebook page (don't forget to look out for other specific ones e.g. for your course, school, clubs or societies - there are quite a few to choose from!) to make sure you don't miss out on what's happening across campus.
  • Download the University app to keep you up to date on campus information.
  • Getting some work experience on campus will help you feel more involved in on-campus life. Sign up with Worklink to find out about the paid part-time work available or find out about volunteering opportunities with the Guild.
  • You could volunteer to be a language buddy with another student at the University through the Language Exchange programme.

Travelling

  • Make sure you know the best way to get to University.  Download the Traveline West Midlands app (travelinewm.mobi) or visit the Traveline West Midlands journey planner online .
  • Get the best deal on your travel. Ask around for the best ticket for your needs.
  • Put travel enquiry numbers (eg. National Rail, bus company) and some taxi numbers in your mobile, for any emergencies.

Practical

  • Use your journey time to your advantage. Reading, catching up on notes, listening to podcasts of lectures (or other topics surrounding your course), making lists or even just thinking through what you need to do can often be done whilst travelling.
  • Get a thermos flask - you can enjoy your favourite hot (or cold) drink without the coffee shop prices!

Use your knowledge of the local area

  • Why not use your knowledge of the surrounding area to your advantage and arrange an unusual trip for your peers?

College/School Staying Local events

Your College or school  events for students who are not living in University accommodation, so look out for these on the Welcome events timetable.

Welcome Guild event

The Guild of Students is running a Staying Local event on 20 September 11:00-14:30 at the Debating Hall, Guild of Students. This will be an opportunity for you to spend time witth other students who won’t be living in University accommodation or a shared student house whilst at university and learn about life at the University of Birmingham. To book your place visit Guild of Students.

A week in the life of some of our local students

Find out what it's actually like being a local student at the University. Some local students tell us how it's been for them.

Quotes from previous local students

  • "I've been able to save some money this first year to help me during the rest of University, which I know is something that a lot of my friends in halls have not been able to do."
  • "My choice to live at home seemed the most sensible option months ago when I was completing my UCAS form but just recently the trepidation has been creeping in."
  • "That's what has me most frightened. Will I make friends? It's such a simple concept, something that many of do without even realising. You just...start talking to somebody and suddenly you're laughing, exchanging funny stories and finally contact details."
  • "The journey is an excellent opportunity to catch up on any reading I may have missed and I’ve been getting a lot more extra-curricular reading done as well."
  • "As a student who stayed at home during my studies at the university, I did feel that I had to be more proactive in becoming involved in social activities."
  • "By my final year at university I had developed close friendships with students who lived in Selly Oak, making it easy to feel involved in the student community and be invited to University based social events."
  • We would love to hear your feedback on our site. Please fill out this form or email us at welcome@contacts.bham.ac.uk.
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"Many other people are choosing to commute from home and some even share my course, my train, and, more importantly, my interests."