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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.

  • Saving money

    Think about:

    • Looking at your timetable carefully, seeing how often you’re required to be on campus and how best to make travel expenses as economical as possible.
    • If you’re travelling by car read the useful information regarding parking and permits.
    • Additionally, 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 to university by bus; First Essex offer a special season ticket price for University of Essex students.
    • Panther Travel offer a bus service between Harwich-Colchester Monday to Saturday.
    • UNiDAYS and Student Beans are good ways to find the latest student discounts.
    • 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. Discount is also available in The Kitchen (on Square 3), for those who bring their own mugs!
    • You may be able to access a microwave and a kettle in your department’s common room.
    • If you are a mature student (started your undergraduate degree at the age of 21 or over, or postgraduate degree at age 25 or over), you can use the mature and postgraduate common room – this can be found in room 5.401 located off square 2, which has seating, tables, tea and coffee making facilities and a microwave.
    • Lockers are available on campus in the Lecture Theatre Building (LTB), more information and a booking form are available through the Students’ Union.
    • Jobs are available on campus and are a great way to earn extra money, as well as meet new people. The Students’ Union advertises available vacancies and the University advertises on Essex Career Hub.

  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Showers can be accessed on campus (located at the Evolve Gym and rooms 5N.3.4 and 5N.3.5).
    • 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.
    • 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 as a commuting student

    • Students’ Union societies are a great way to meet other students, and are actively encouraged to organise non-alcoholic, daytime events – read the available information about societies and there is only a small fee to join.
    • There are regular social events on campus organised by both the University and the Students’ Union
      calendars of upcoming events:
    • Sports clubs are also a great place to meet like-minded individuals.
    • vTeam is a great opportunity to meet others, and they run both weekly and one-off projects for students.
    • 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.
    • Additionally, becoming a course rep is a great way to engage with others on your course, as well as staff in your department.
    • When attending social events, you could check with the event organiser whether you can bring a non-student friend along for moral support.
    • 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 networks outside of university too, for support. 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 (.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 is a useful list of external support services can be accessed here.
    • 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

  • 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 offers free laptop loans for up to 3 hours, which can help reduce the need to bring your laptop onto campus.
    • 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.

Facilities for commuters

The Gateway Building has a common room (GB.2.32) available for you to study or relax throughout the day, on your own or with friends. The room has:

  • lockers
  • computers and printers
  • sofas
  • television
  • hot drink making facilities

Travelling to University

We have plenty of information available about ways to travel to our Southend Campus, 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.

Outside the classroom

  • Taking part in sport or joining a society is a great way to meet new people.
  • Try out Just Play, a free way to take part in sport and meet other students. Just turn up, you don’t have to book.
  • Employment and volunteering opportunities on campus can provide you with valuable work experience as well as the opportunity to meet fellow students.
  • The SU Lounge is a great way to meet and socialise with friends
  • Keep an eye out for any events which are taking place on and off campus.

Further information and support

Employability advice

Our Careers Centre

Our Employability and Careers Centre helps you develop the skills for a successful career. Our friendly staff and excellent resources help you to make informed career choices and to enter your chosen field.

Academic Skills Support

Two women discussing some papers

Our advisers can help you with all aspects of academic study and assignment preparation. Come along to our Helpdesk in the Silberrad Student Centre, ground floor to find out about our programme of workshops and writing clinics.

Student Services Hub

Lecturer and student

Our team of advisers are based within your Student Services Hub and can provide information, advice and guidance on a range of topics from accommodation and funding to exam stress and wellbeing. Drop us a line or pay us a visit.

Students' Union

Students' Union club night

Our Students' Union (SU) is one of the most active in the country and is run by students, for students. Our SU will be there to offer you support, plus the opportunity to join numerous clubs and societies and to enjoy lots of events and nights out.