The University is excited to Welcome commuting students to our community. Each year, around a quarter of students across the UK choose to live off-campus with their family, partner, friends, or by themselves. This can mean different things for different students. We hope the information on this page will help you to settle into the University quickly, make friends, and find all the practical information you need for a great start to your University experience.
Who are our commuting students?
Commuter students are those whose term-time address is the same as their home address, but there are lots of different situations. Some students travel very locally to campus from Birmingham, whilst for others it means a longer commute from a nearby town or city, or even further afield.
For many students, commuting offers them a chance to save money and knowing the local area can make the transition to university life easier. Commuting can also come with challenges: a significant part of your day will be dedicated to travelling; you may need rely on study spaces more than other students; and as you are not living in shared accommodation, your friends will come from different places. Whether that’s on your course, societies, sports teams or elsewhere – there will be plenty of opportunities to meet others and build friendships. Everybody’s University experience is different and unique, but nonetheless exciting and fulfilling!
Your Guild Officers are developing an online Commuter Student Welcome Event. Details will be published on the Guild's website as soon as they are confirmed.
Parents, guardians and families are invited to attend the online Parents' and Guardians' Welcome Address, which will give them some helpful information about the University, what support we offer students and how they can help to support you best.
Check the Welcome Timetable to find out what other events you can attend on-campus and online. Make sure to visit a Welcome Information Point to collect your University face covering and Welcome lanyard.
Travelling to campus
If you are planning to commute, it is likely you have already worked out the best ways for you to travel, however you may still find our local travel information useful. Read out information on travelling safely to understand what measures local travel operators are putting in place for your safety.
What to expect
Whatever your background it's useful to know the basic information about what to expect when you start university. This includes details about teaching methods, what study at university-level is like and how your approach can help you to succeed.
You will be able to pick up this information as you go through your course, but having an idea at the start will help you focus on and enjoy other aspects of your university experience.
Tips and Advice
Read our tips and advice on how to get the most out of your experience as a commuting student.
Travel advice for commuters
Make sure you know the best way to travel to the University for you. You might want to think about back up plans or routes in case there are issues with public transport. We realise that there may be additional challenges with travelling in the current COVID-19 situation and we encourage you to keep up to date with the current government guidelines on wearing face coverings. You can also find out how local operators are working to make your journeys safer.
We realise that students are in many different situations with your home life, those you live with (who you may need to consider in your decisions), facilities to study at home and access to different travel options. We want to support you to make the best decisions for your situation, whilst encouraging you to engage in the University community as much as possible.
- If you’re planning to travel via public transport, then there are a variety of passes you can get to help mitigate the costs. The Network West Midlands Student Card allows unlimited bus, train and tram travel across the Network West Midlands area, and can often be a cheaper option if you’ll be using more than one method of transport.
- The University of Birmingham has its own train station, only two stops (8 minutes) away from Birmingham New Street, which means you can travel directly from home to campus and the local area.
- If you travel solely by train, then a 16-25 Railcard (also available those over 25 who are studying full-time), will allow you to save a third on single and return journeysthroughout Great Britain. Rail only season tickets are available from your local station or online from the rail company you travel with. West Midlands Railway, which runs many of hte services to University station, offers a discounted student rate.
- If you’re planning to take the bus, then both the Network West Midlands Student Card and the National Express Student Bus Pass can give you a great deal on your transport. There are eight local services (1A, 61, 63, X64, 76, X20, X21, X22) that directly serve the University, and provide links to the Vale, the City Centre, local train stations, and residential areas, including Solihull, Kings Heath, Kings Norton, Harborne, Bearwood, and Cotteridge.
- National Express are offering £30 towards your student bus pass until the end of December.
Student parking permit
Alternative travel plans
- In case of emergencies, it’s worthwhile to have the number or apps for local taxis on your phone – especially when travelling back from nights out, this can help make sure that you get home safely. Why not arrange to travel home with a friend from your local area?
General travel information
- Download the UoB Campus Maps app to your phone! Not only is it great for finding your way around campus, but it also has a travel section to show the nearest bus stops and train stations, as well as the departure boards for both. The Network West Midlands apps, and Google Maps can also be extremely helpful, as they can show you the best way to get from place to place, as well as live times and updates. They can be also be useful to plan your journeys if you are planning on staying at university late.
- As a commuter student, it's likely that travelling will soon become an integral part of your student experience, and whether you drive, get the train or use public transport, it’s important that you try to make the most of it. Reading (not whilst driving!), catching up on notes, listening to podcasts or lectures, making lists, or even just thinking through your plans for the day can often be done whilst travelling, and it means that you’re using your journey time to your advantage. Likewise, taking some time to relax and reflect can be excellent for your wellbeing, and means that you’ll be fully energised and ready to start your day!
Practical tips for commuters
- The University campus has a wide array of facilities available, and many can be particularly useful to commuter students. The Main Library has a small selection of lockers available for day use whilst you’re studying, so it can be helpful if you don’t have anywhere to leave heavy textbooks. Likewise, if you don’t want to bring a laptop into campus every day, the Main Library has loanable laptops you can use in the library.
- There is a wide variety of food and drink on campus. There are also lots of supermarkets and cafés in Selly Oak - less than a ten minute walk from campus - as well as the two Spar shops in the Guild and University Centre.
- Find out about the services available at the University by watching the introductory videos from staff in our teams and departments.
- Occasionally there will be an unavoidable situation that results in a lecture being cancelled. Obviously this is particularly frustrating if you’ve had to travel a long way, but connecting your student email to your phone and downloading the Canvas app (available on iOS and Android) might help you catch any last minute notifications and enable you to plan your day accordingly.
- For Semester 1 in 2020, the majority of large scale meetings will be held online, so you may choose to access these from home.
- Just because you’re not based on campus, it doesn’t mean that your wellbeing isn’t our top priority – if you find yourself struggling in any way, we have a whole range of student wellbeing services to support you through your time at University.
Creating a commuter student community
Welfare and Community Officer
Charlotte Minter is your Welfare and Community Officer at the Guild of Students. The Guild are dedicated to making sure the student voice is heard throughout the University. Charlotte's role focuses on all issues specifically to do with your health, wellbeing and the wider community. As commuters, you’re just as much a part of our University community as any other student and Charlotte wants to make sure you have the best student experience possible, whilst studying here at Birmingham. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with any questions, queries or concerns.
Induction events and activities
For 2020 the majority of large scale events and inductions will be taking place online, whilst some smaller scale activities, such as campus tours and music performances will take place on campus. Create an account on the Welcome Timetable to help you plan your first week.
Making the most of your time on campus
- Take advantage of the time you spend on campus; although it can be frustrating to be left with a long gap between lectures or other classes, it can still be useful and really serve to enhance your experience of student life. You could get a membership to the Sport & Fitness Centre, or you could visit the library or another study space to get ahead on your assignments.
- Getting some careers or work experience on campus could also help you feel more involved. Use the Careers Network to get some advice about your CV or interview skills, sign up with Worklink to find out about the paid part-time work available on campus, or discover different volunteering opportunities. This can also be a great time to get involved with societies.
Third Year Biomedical Science
“Commuting every day can be stressful at times and it forces you to put more energy into the social side of university life. However, compared to where I was as a person before university, I feel far more confident, experienced, proactive, patient and relaxed – and I believe that commuting has had a great deal to do with this.”