Local or commuting students

We are excited to welcome commuting students to our community. We hope the information on this page will help you to settle in, make friends, and find all the practical information you need for a great start to your University experience.

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.

Who are our commuting students?

You are a commuter student if your term-time address is the same as your home address, but there are lots of different situations. You may live very locally to campus from Birmingham, or you may have a longer commute from a nearby town or city, or even further afield.

For many students commuting offers 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 may 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, regardless of where you live!

Find out what to expect from Jules Singh our Education Officer, who joined the University as a commuter student.

Jules Singh - Welcome to Commuter Students

Welcome Events

Check the Welcome Timetable to find out what events you can attend on-campus and online. during Arrivals Weekend, you are invited to join us on campus to explore the Welcome Fair, visit the Wellbeing Marquee, and generally enjoy the atmosphere on campus. You are welcome to bring guests with you - whether it's a family member or a friend.

Commuter Students' Welcome

Join the Guild of Students on 13:00-15:00 on Saturday 18 September for the Commuter Students' Welcome! You can meet other students who will be commuting, find out more about the Guild of Students and how you can get involved, and enjoy being on campus. You'll also get to meet Jules, Education Officer at the Guild, who was also a commuter student.

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.

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. You can find out more about travel passes and options that might save you time and money.

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

Travel plans

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.

Public transport

  • If you’re planning to travel via public transport, then there are a variety of passes you can get to help mitigate the costs. Find out more on our local travel page.
  • 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 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 journeys throughout Great Britain. Rail season tickets are available from your local station or online from the rail company you travel with. West Midlands Railway, which runs many of the services to University station, offers discounted student season tickets.
  • 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.


Parking on campus

If you’re planning to drive, then find out if you're eligible for a 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.

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 Transport for West Midlands apps, and Google Maps can also be helpful, as they can show you the best way to get from place to place, as well as live times and updates. They can also be useful to plan your journeys if you are planning on staying late on campus.
  • As a commuter student, it's likely that travelling will soon become an integral part of your student experience. 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

University facilities

  • 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.

Managing disruptions

  • 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.

Wellbeing services

  • 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.

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.


Sam Lee

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.”


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