What stuff to bring to uni

What exactly does the average, self-respecting student need when they head off to university for the first time? Andy Sharman recommends some vital purchases to help your offspring work, rest, play – and even impress their fellow students
Click to follow


Vital for shipping your offspring’s stuff to university and keeping it safe while they are there, the trunk is a student staple, redolent of wintry mornings at Hogwarts. They can put stuff in it, put stuff on it, and best of all, they can keep all their prized belongings safe from evil, prying roommates. Mossman make the classic boarding school trunk. But vintage trunks from Baileys will give their room a bit of dusty, Oxbridge charm. Just make sure they can lock it. www.baileyshomeandgarden.co.uk


Where would the student be without the bicycle? Though it might be a bit of a hassle to take all the way up to university, a bike is absolutely vital for scooting to lectures at the last minute and nipping out to get some supper. It’s healthy, it’s green, and as long as you have a helmet, lights and a lock, you (and it) should be safe enough. Bobbin Bicycles have reinvigorated the classic student bicycle, representing the ultimate in continental chic. www.bobbin bicycles.co.uk


Penguin classics are a must-have – for so many reasons. They look great on the shelf (more Oxbridge charm) and give a break from heavy-duty textbooks. And better yet, if they’re an arts student, they’ll find in these classics a treasure trove of useful vignettes to inform and enliven their essays. Their tutors will lap it up. Besides, they’ll look like a proper student intellectual. Abebooks is a vital source for second-hand books of all kinds. They might even make a saving on that hefty course textbook. www.abebooks.co.uk

Sound system

Students and music are easy bedfellows: so it’s a safe bet that they’ll want some decent room speakers for their room. Why? To annoy their neighbours; to entertain their pre-night out guests; to aid their concentration while working late into the night; and to chill out at 4am. These brilliantly designed, portable LaCie Firewire speakers will connect to their laptop and kick out a decent decibel. www.lacie.com

Duralex Picardie Glass

The Duralex 8.5oz Picardie is a design classic. They’re made of tempered glass, and so are virtually unbreakable. Often seen in French bistros, it’s time students got wise to this toughened tumbler. The company has been in a spot of bother of late, so your best bet is to pick up a set of six on eBay and then they can enjoy supping water (or beer, or Lambrini, etc) with their friends before heading out on the town. www.eBay.co.uk


Their time at university will be spent chained to this thing. I doubt there’s a university in the land that doesn’t demand typed essays, so it makes sense to get a decent computer. But desktops are old hat, clunky and more importantly, stealable. At least they can lug a little notebook computer around with them. So: it needs to be portable; it needs to be fashionable (for posing in the library); and it needs to be fairly competent when it comes to MS Word. Oh, who am I kidding – it just needs the internet for Facebook. For the ultimate style statement, they can head down to Macwarehouse and get a black Macbook. www.macwarehouse.com


Lugging all their university materials around isn’t going to be easy, so they’re going to need a satchel. They’ll have it with them each and every day on campus, so pay attention: it can’t be too bulky; it needs to take books and must be able to handle your laptop; it needs to look good, but it can’t be too precious as it’ll get thrown around the room, the library and the exam hall, and be exposed to all the weather their new town can throw at them. The Greenwich Tote, from New Yorkers Manhattan Portage, ticks all the boxes. www.manhattanportage.com


While a TV is a seriously bad idea DVDs are absolutely essential for Friday and Saturday nights in (yes, we like to give the locals a night out). They’re brilliant for chilled nights with friends – when their laptop and speakers will come in handy, too.But even better, box sets are a brilliant way of giving your offspring a routine: an episode a night gives them a bit of continuity and home comfort in that rollercoaster first term. Fopp is the essential student media store. www.fopp.com


No student desk is complete without some form of illumination and the Anglepoise 50 by Anthony Dickens is an interesting take on a classic. With this lamp, the main spotlight will focus their mind on the tome they’re meant to be reading, while the other half will shed some light on the rest of their room. And in these colours, who needs a lava lamp? You’ll find this and many other nifty lights at Anglepoise. If your funds will stretch to it, invest in a couple – one for their desk, one for bedtime reading. www.anglepoise.com


This is one for your sons. Why not treat them to a little James Bond luxury? This dinner suit will get worn several times in their first week. Then, once at the end for graduation. How much it gets worn in between depends on which university they go to. Irrespective, it’s damn useful to have, it will stay with them for life and, chances are, they’ll save more than they’d spend on renting. The nice chaps at A Suit That Fits will kit them out with a bespoke, handtailored DJ in pure wool for £200. www.asuitthatfits.com

The best of the rest

The basics: don’t let them leave home without these

  • Make sure they take some winter clothes – including a decent overcoat.
  • Get them to invest in a corkscrew, of course, and also a little doorstop – a vital device for meeting new friends in halls.
  • No self-respecting student is seen on campus without headphones, so get them to buy a set of nifty Aiaiai ( www.aiaiai.dk).
  • Quies pure wax earplugs are a godsend when their neighbour decides to crank up the amplifier. And of course, for the morning after, get them to invest in some Resolve.

...And five things that freshers really don’t need

  • TV – Stops them working, stops them socialising, costs you £100 for a licence. Get them to use the TV in the common room.
  • CDs – Taking all their CDs will attract two things: thieves and scroungers. Get them to put all their music on their computer?
  • A-level work – They’ll never look at it. Get them to leave those big folders at home: it’s time to move on.
  • Car – Expensive to fuel, expensive to park and it’s bad for the environment.
  • Crockery – Trust me: they will not cook anything more difficult than toast.