What to bring to uni
Joining the university
Deciding what to bring to uni and what to keep at home can be a challenge. Use our packing lists make sure you’ve got everything you need to start your degree.
University is a great time to develop your hobbies and try new things, so consider bringing items outside of our packing lists below too. Pack clothes you're comfortable doing sports in, even if you don't plan to sign up to the gym right away, and consider bringing your musical instrument if you play.
Tips for packing:
- Bring a 'moving in' box with essentials – you'll want your phone charger, ID, keys and snacks on your first day so put these together and make sure you know where to find them
- Pack by room to help you stay on top of what you've packed and make it easier to unpack when you arrive
- Pack soft things in foldable bags or bin liners so they'll squeeze into oddly shaped car spaces
- Put light items in big boxes – packing heavy items in large boxes makes them very difficult to move
- Roll your clothes instead of folding them to take up less space and reduce creases – or consider using vacuum storage bags to save space
- Label your boxes to making unpacking easier
Packing lists for uni
At uni you'll need clothing, bedding, stationery and home comforts like photos or decorations.
Most student rooms come with a bed, desk and clothing storage, so you won't need to bring furniture. Your housing contract will list any furniture in your room so you should check if you need to bring anything before you move in.
- Duvet and pillows
- Two bedding sets including duvet covers, pillow cases and sheets
- Bedside lamp
- Coat hangers
- Stationery and folders to keep your handouts or printed work in
- Laundry basket and clothes airer
- Door stop
- Small mirror
- Pins for notice boards
- Iron and small ironing board, or a travel steamer – speak to your flatmates about sharing these if you don't have your own already
- Plug adaptors if you’re from overseas
- Storage boxes to keep your space organised
You'll probably do plenty of work in your room as well as relaxing, so consider bringing items to help you feel comfortable at your desk such as a fan, desk tidy and small rubbish bin.
You won't need to bring all your clothes at the start of the year., but you should pack some essentials and make sure you have outfits for different types of weather.
Clothes to bring:
- T-shirts, tops, shirts, jumpers, sweatshirts
- Dresses, skirts, tights
- Jeans, casual trousers, smart trousers, shorts
- Suit jacket, tie
- Dressing gown
- Underwear and socks
- Trainers and smart shoes
- Slippers or flip flops for around your flat
- Rain coat, winter coat, gloves, hat, scarf
- Gym kit
- Swimming kit
- Fancy dress outfit
- Accessories like a watch, hat, handbag or jewellery
You probably won't be allowed to do things like light candles or blue tack posters to the wall, but you can still make your bedroom feel like home.
Decorate your room with lights, family photos in frames or colourful bedding and cushions.
These items can help you feel at home:
- Framed photos, fairy lights and artwork
- Cushions, blankets and rugs
- Mattress topper
- Extra clothes rail
- Hot water bottle
Depending on your accommodation you might have a bathroom to yourself or share with other people. Some people store their bathroom items in a lightweight shower caddy and only take them to the bathroom when they need them. This protects your items from getting muddled with someone else's, but isn't as convenient as keeping your shower products in the bathroom. You can decide what works for you.
If you're living with others, discuss how you'll buy shared necessities like bathroom soap and toilet paper. You may choose to organise a rota and take it in turns to buy these items for the house.
You can bring most bathroom items with you or choose to save space and buy them when you arrive.
- Toiletries like toothpaste, shower gel and shampoo
- Toilet roll
- Razors or shavers and shaving cream
- Two hand towels, bath sheets and flannels
- Grooming kit including tweezers and nail clippers
- Toilet brush and cleaner
- Hair brush, comb, hairdryer and styling tools
- Wash bag or basket
You could also bring:
- Skincare products
- Air freshener
- Bath mat
- Perfume or aftershave
- Makeup and remover
You'll also need personal supplies like:
- medical prescriptions
- contact lens solution
- sanitary products
You can buy most of these at uni if you don't bring them from home – waiting until you get here can save space in your car for other items that you can't buy after you arrive.
Make a small first aid kit with:
- pain killers
- other items you'll need, such as cold relief
It's worth buying some cold relief before term starts so you're prepared for freshers' flu. You won't feel like popping to the shop if you're unwell.
Depending on your accommodation you'll need different kitchen supplies.
If you're in catered halls, your halls will provide some of your meals but might not provide them all. Find out what's included in your tenancy and what you'll need to arrange yourself before you arrive.Speak to your flatmates ahead of time and find out what they're happy to share before you move in. Some houses share plates, cutlery and appliances while other people prefer to have their own.
Most self-catered accommodation will provide you with a kettle, toaster and microwave. Check your housing contract to find out what's included in your tenancy.
It's tempting to buy everything ahead of time but it can be easier to do a shop once you've settled in. You can buy plenty of kitchen supplies once you arrive at uni, such as tin foil, cling film and kitchen cleaning products. If you can shop the day you arrive it's worth leaving bin bags, washing up liquid and kitchen roll until then too.
Whether you're in catered or self-catered accommodation, you'll also want your own supply of tea, coffee and milk. You may be able to split these with your housemates, but it's nice to have a backup in your cupboard when you're running low.
- Plates, bowls and side plates (2 of each)
- Mugs and glasses
- Microwavable container
- Knives, forks and spoons
- Chopping board
- Sharp knives and scissors
- Washing up brush/sponges
- Tupperware boxes
- Measuring jug
- Tea towels
- Food and drink – you might only need lunch foods and snacks if you're in catered accommodation
If you're in self-catered accommodation, you'll also need:
- 2 saucepans
- Wok or frying pan
- Kettle and toaster – check your contract and speak to your flatmates before buying these
- Kitchen utensils like tongs, a wooden spoon, spatula, serving spoon and potato masher
- Baking tray
- Oven mit
- Heat resistant pad or trivet to stop your pans burning the kitchen counter
- Mixing bowl
- Coffee press/machine or tea pot
- Reusable coffee cup
- Bottle opener
- Kitchen gadgets
- Your favourite spices
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Can opener
- Cheese grater
- Pizza cutter
Other items to bring
There are plenty of things you can bring to uni to keep you entertained, help you make friends and get ready for your degree. There are also important things you'll need to have available while you study.
You usually won't need to buy textbooks for your course because they'll be available in your university library or online. Check your reading lists when you get them to decide if you want your own copy of any of the books, and consider getting these delivered once you're at uni to save packing space.
- Documents – your qualifications, ID, proof of student finance letter, university acceptance letter, bank details, national insurance card, rail card, insurance documents, scholarship and bursary letters, insurance documents, prescriptions copies, and a copy of your CV
- A list of important numbers – in case you lose your phone
- Electronics – phone, laptop, headphones, chargers, USB sticks, extension cables, batteries
- University supplies – a sturdy bag, notebooks, pens, water bottle, reusable hot drink cup, highlighters, stapler, ruler, equipment for your course (for example, a calculator), planner, post it notes and scissors
- Cleaning supplies – for your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom
You usually won't need to buy textbooks for your course because they'll be available in your university library or online. Check your reading lists when you get them and decide if you want your own copy of any of the books. If you can, pick these up or get them delivered once you're at university to save packing space when you move in.
You could also bring:
- A small TV (you'll need a TV licence)
- Games consoles
- Board games to play with flatmates
- A pack of cards
- Books and films
- A printer and paper
- A diary or planner
- A small sewing kit to fix small rips lose buttons
- An Ethernet cable
Although your accommodation will probably have wifi arranged by your landlord or you and the other tenants, connecting your laptop or computer to the router with a cable can improve your connection.
Heading out of the house
You'll spend plenty of time in your home, but you'll also travel to and from lectures, study at university buildings, and spend time with friends and societies outside of the house.
You should bring:
- a strong bag or rucksack to get your stuff to and from lectures
- a weekend bag for trips home or weekends away
a rain coat and hat, and possibly an umbrella for super rainy days — Portsmouth can be very windy though, so don't just rely on your umbrella to keep you dry!
- your bike, helmet and two D-locks, if you plan to cycle
- a reusable water bottle and a thermos flask for hot drinks on cold mornings
What to keep at home
You might be tempted to bring everything you own with you to uni but you'll probably only live in the same house for a year. That's a lot of items to move when some of them won't see any use. Most students head home over the Christmas break so you can pick up or drop off more items in December too.
Here are some things that you shouldn't bring with you:
- Your car – Most cities don't have much student parking. You'll usually find that getting to and around campus is easy on foot, by bike or by bus.
- All your clothes – You'll need clothes for autumn and winter during your first term but you probably won't need your summer outfits yet. Pack sensibly.
- Too much stationary – You'll need some stationary to get through the year but you can buy a new set of pens or notebooks when you need them. This is better than bringing lots with you that you don't end up using.
- Printer – Universities have printing services available so you generally won't need your own printer. If you do bring a small printer, make sure you have paper and know what ink cartridges you'll need if they run out.
- Candles and incense – Candles are considered a fire hazard in most housing contracts so it's best to leave them at home.
Life at university
Planning and packing before you move to uni is only half the battle, and you'll need to move everything in and unpack once you arrive too.
When you get here don't forget to:
- Make your bed when you arrive – you don't want to spend your first night under a blanket when you're too exhausted to make your bed in the evening
- Finish unpacking one box before you move on to another — or you'll have lots of half-packed boxes and no idea where your stuff is
- Introduce yourself to your flatmates when you see them
- Bring snacks – you'll make friends quickly if you offer them around!
Find out what to expect
Explore our island city and its many attractions, and find out what student life is really like at the University.