Commuting students

As a commuting student, you may be worried that you are missing out on some of the University experience by not living on campus, or that it may be expensive. You may also be anxious about meeting new people and making friends. However, commuting can have many benefits, and can also be a great way to balance university and home life.

Lots of students every year choose to commute to Essex, and it is important to remember there is no ‘right’ way to be a student. We have put together some useful information for commuting students, to help you get the best out of your time at Essex.

Advice and tips

Travelling to University

We have plenty of information available about ways to travel to our Campuses, including by car, bus, train and coach. 

We also run a car sharing scheme that may make your journey easier and cheaper, worth a look if you’re a regular commuter within Essex or our bordering counties.

Also see our tips and advice on parking and discount travel information.

Saving money

Travel savings

  • Look at your timetable carefully, see how often you’re required to be on campus and how best to make travel expenses as economical as possible.
  • A car sharing scheme is available which is a good way to meet new people and also share costs.
  • If you’re travelling by train, you could invest in a 16-25 railcard, if you are eligible; this can save you up to 1/3 on rail fares. Also, season tickets are available from National Rail - these usually work out more cost effective than purchasing single journeys.
  • If travelling by bus; First Essex offer a special season ticket price for University of Essex students. For Colchester students, Panther Travel offer a bus service between Harwich and Colchester, Monday to Saturday.

Discounts

UNiDAYS and Student Beans are good ways to find the latest student discounts.

Food, drink and common rooms

You can bring your own food and drink onto campus to help save money – investing in a travel mug for hot drinks and a cooler bag may be really useful for helping food and drink stay fresh.

Colchester Campus

Southend Campus

The Mezz is a social space that is open even after the SU Lounge closes. There are sofas, chairs and microwaves. Tip: lunchtimes (12pm-2pm) can get busy.

Facilities on campus

Places to study

The are a number of locations and types of places you can study on campus, individually or in groups.

Lockers

  • Colchester - lockers are available on campus in the Lecture Theatre Building (LTB), more information and a booking form are available through the Students’ Union.
  • Southend - lockers on campus (book via Students' Union).

Showers

  • Colchester - showers can be accessed on campus (located in the gym and in rooms 5N.3.4 and 5N.3.5).
  • Southend - showers can be accessed in the Gateway Building on the 5th Floor.

The Forum (Southend)

Facilities at The Forum, including photocopiers, vending machines and water coolers.

Jobs and volunteering opportunities

Jobs 

Jobs on campus are available and are a great way to earn extra money, gain experience, as well as meet new people. The Students’ Union advertises available vacancies and the University advertises on Essex Career Hub.

Volunteering

  • Volunteering opportunities on campus can provide you with valuable work experience as well as the opportunity to meet fellow students.
  • The Students' Union vTeam is a great opportunity to meet others, and they run both weekly and one-off projects for students. 

Managing your time

  • Try and get into good habits with studying and time management, including how to use pockets of time through the day effectively. This could be through going to a study space during breaks between classes, for example.
  • The library on campus is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; perfect for fitting in studying at a time that suits you. You can also join your local public library and make use of the resources and spaces there.
  • Due to less time physically on campus, it may be useful to prepare in advance for any meetings with staff members, or for when you’re meeting with a staff member during their academic support hours. Consider what you cannot leave the meeting without knowing; whether it’s guidance for an essay, or how to access a certain support service.

Colchester Campus

  • You can use the University gym for a discounted student rate, which is a great way to maintain wellbeing, decrease stress and can be fitted between timetable gaps.
  • It may be a good idea to allow extra time for travel; this includes traffic, train/bus delays, bad weather and also finding a parking space on campus.

Meeting people and activities outside the classroom

Societies

Students’ Union societies are a great way to meet other students and there is only a small joining fee. Societies are actively encouraged to organise non-alcoholic, daytime events.

Events

There are regular social events on campus organised by both the University and the Students’ Union:

When attending social events, you could check with the event organiser whether you can bring a non-student friend along for moral support.

Sport 

  • Sports clubs in Colchester and Southend are also a great place to meet like-minded individuals.
  • For those who can’t commit to regular sports sessions, Just Play is a social sport programme which is based around getting active, making friends and having fun.

Course rep

Becoming a course rep is a great way to engage with others on your course, as well as staff in your department.

Other ideas

  • As a local student, you are likely to know the local area really well, and can help other students settle in and get to know the best places.
  • Try and maintain strong social and support networks outside of university too.
  • Commuting is a great way to stay close to family and friends, and allow some downtime from campus life; it may feel overwhelming sometimes, so this is important.

Extra support

  • There is a lot of support available on campus; there are handy guides for Colchester (.pdf) and Southend (.pdf) help to clarify who to access, where and when.
  • The University also provides wellbeing support if you are experiencing emotional or mental health difficulties; there are also links to external support services.
  • If you want to further develop your skills in writing, maths, research, study skills and English language, you can visit the Talent Development Centre for workshops and also individual support.
  • If you are a first year student, you will have access to a peer mentor who can offer practical advice and information, and point you in the right direction to services that may be available - If you are not sure who your peer mentor is, email peermentor@essex.ac.uk.

Studying at home

  • University is different from college; it can often feel more difficult and stressful whilst you adjust. However, it is important to remember that it is completely normal to feel this way.
  • Be aware of your deadlines in advance, and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for additional support. This could even be just a home-cooked meal, or practical help with jobs that normally take up time, such as washing/ironing etc.
  • The correct study space is vital. Find a quiet and comfortable place to study at home without interruptions – considering appropriate lighting, sound levels (e.g. not where people watch TV loudly in a nearby room), as well as a suitable desk and computer set-up to avoid eye and muscle strain.
  • Make sure you take regular breaks – if you are struggling to get started on a task, it may be useful looking into the Pomodoro technique, which can help. This involves setting a timer for 25 minutes, taking a break for 5 minutes, then returning to work four times in this manner. A longer break is taken (between 15-30 minutes) after four “Pomodoros” have been completed.
  • Despite living at home, you can still acquire skills you would learn living away at University, if you don’t know these already. This could include cooking, household chores such as rubbish/recycling etc.

Technology

  • The University has a free wifi network known as Eduroam; you can connect as soon as you get to campus with your Essex email address and password. The wi-fi how to guides can help you connect if you’re unsure.
  • You can get Microsoft Office 365 software free of charge as a University of Essex student.
  • The library in Colchester offers free laptop loans for up to 3 hours, which can help reduce the need to bring your laptop onto campus. This facility will also be coming to Southend.
  • We recommend you download our official app, Pocket Essex, giving you easy access to your timetable, what’s on, campus maps and more. Or, you can access your personalised timetable for the academic year online.
Student Services Hub
Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.