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22 uni essentials to shop for this September

Head off to university fully prepared with these must-have student buys

Uni essentials edit
Hollie Brotherton
Lifestyle & Commerce Senior Writer
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Returning to university this September or starting for the very first time? You probably already have an extensive shopping list of all the things you need, so let us help you out with these uni must-haves from the likes of Amazon, John Lewis and M&S.

Whether you're going into halls or a uni house, there's a good chance you won't have much space, so you'll probably be looking for clever storage solutions as well as all of your essential items and those little extras that make your house feel like a home.  

University essentials shopping dos and don'ts

Not sure where to start? Third year Drama & English Literature student at UAE, Iona MacRobert, has some tips...

  • Do: Buy your own set of kitchen appliances. If you are living in halls then you likely won’t have this provided for you. Once settled into your flat, people might start to share items but it is a safer bet to have your own equipment that you can also re-use for second year.
  • Don't: Over spend on essentials. There's a chance something could get damaged and you wouldn’t want to spend lots of money on a kettle, for example, for it to then break and you have to buy another (that’s actually a true story of mine!).
  • Do: Make your room cosy. At university you do spend a lot of time in your room, so it is important to create a space that suits you. I always have fairy lights up and candles lit (if allowed) to make a calmer atmosphere.
  • Don't: Forget very essential items. These things are laundry baskets, adaptors, a lamp, loo roll, hangers, storage boxes and stationery. I am terrible at remembering this stuff and will prioritise buying clothes or decorations! 

How we chose these uni essentials

  • Student-approved: It's a little while since we graduated so we spoke to actual uni students to find out what they consider essentials.  
  • Price: In true student life style, everything in this edit is affordable and/or will last far beyond your uni years.
  • Versatility: We've chosen items that will suit a wide range of tastes and decor styles.

The best uni essentials to shop now

  • M&S lamp

    M&S Finn Table Lamp

    This angled metal lamp from M&S comes in four cool matte colours from blush to sage green. It's perfect for a desk or bedside table. 

  • H&M laundry bag

    H&M Cotton Twill Laundry Bag

    Made from cotton twill in a stylish striped design, H&M's laundry bag also features two handles, which is ideal if you're carrying it to and from a laundry room. 

  • Yuyu hot water bottle

    YUYU Long Hot Water Bottle

    A student says

    "Freshers quickly turns into winter and halls can get super cold! I go to university in Norwich which is freezing by November time. I have this extra-long water bottle (which is sustainably-made) from YUYU. It is a life saver as it is so big so lasts for longer!"

    An extra long hot water bottle is an investment as you can use it for all three years. Ideal if you get cold easily and want to avoid any disagreements about heating bills when you're in a uni house. 

  • John Lewis towels

    ANYDAY Quick-Dry Towels

    These super soft quick-dry towels from John Lewis are so affordable at £4 for a hand towel and £9.60 for a bath sheet. They come in blue, white or grey.

  • Heated clothes rail

    Status Heated Clothes Airer

    Another winner if your housemates don't want to turn the heating on, there's no space in your halls dryers or you just need to dry your clothes quickly before a lecture or night out. This is the cheapest heated clothes rail we've found and it's a very worthy investment.

  • Amazon velvet hangers

    Amazon Basics Velvet Hangers

    Whether you have a wardrobe or a clothes rail - don't forget your hangers. This bestselling Amazon set comes in several different shades and the velvet material prevent clothes from falling off as well as saving space.

  • Stanley cup

    Stanley Quencher Stainless Steel Tumbler

    A student says

    "Having a reusable water bottle saves so much money on campus when you're running from class to class."

    From your lecture hall to the gym or even your halls room, keep your drinks cold for up to 12 hours with this Stanley tumbler. It has a built-in leak-proof flip straw and folding handle.


  • Our Place pan

    Our Place Pan

    The Always Pan from Our Place is a cult favourite for good reason. Designed to replace eight pieces of cookware, it's a space saver and you'll be making much more than your standard beans on toast. It comes in 10 different colours.

  • Tefal toaster

    Tefal Two-Slice Toaster and Bean Maker

    But if beans on toast is your thing, this Tefal toaster is ideal for uni students as it includes a pot to simultaneously heat up your beans or eggs. It has an easy-clean dish too.

  • Dunelm pan set

    Dunelm Essentials Pan Set

    This very affordable pan collection is just £28 and the perfect size for cooking meals for one or two people. The top-rated set includes two saucepans, two frying pans and a milk pan. It's made from aluminium and is dishwasher safe.

  • M&S dinner set

    M&S Tribeca 12-Piece Dinner Set

    We can guarantee most people will turn up to uni with the same plain white crockery, so make yours stand out and get this 12-piece set with a matte black edge from M&S. It will see you through all three years.

  • Macbook stand

    Twelve South Curve Laptop Stand

    If you need something to convince you to get to work at your desk, this bestselling laptop stand from Twelve South is super sleek and will hold your MacBook or iPad at the perfect neck-friendly angle, all while increasing the airflow around your device. 

  • Academic diary

    Papier Academic Diary

    A student says

    "I don’t know how you can go through university without a diary. There are loads of daily planners online and just something that organises each day is perfect!"

    Running from August 2023 - July 2024, this academic planner from Papier was made specifically with uni in mind. It includes both weekly and monthly overviews, as well as pages for goals, to-do lists, key dates & notes of gratitude. There's even finance and deadline trackers. It's available in 11 different colours and can be customised with your name. 

  • Rocket Book

    Rocketbook Academic Planner

    You've probably seen Rocketbook's genius academic planner all over TikTok. Write your notes on the synthetic paper with the Pilot FriXion pen then use the Rocketbook App to upload them to your phone, tablet or laptop. The planner can be wiped clean and used infinite times.

  • BRITA Maxtra Pro Water Filter Glass Jug, 2.5L

    A student says

    "I love this jug and cannot live without it - I find whenever staying in a different city, tap water just hits differently and this will help me get used to the tap water in a new city. I also love the fact that this is made from glass rather than plastic. It's definelety a more sustainable alternative to bottled water."

    BRITA launched its first ever filter jug made from glass – featuring a unique and stylish curved design to provide pure water by eliminating taste-impairing substances.

  • Extension lead

    Extension Lead with USB and USB-C Slots

    With six plug sockets, four USB ports and one USB-C port in this extension lead, you'll never be left with low battery again.

  • Anker speaker

    Anker Bluetooth Speaker

    A student says

    "This is the exact mini speaker I have! It is really useful for playing music in the kitchen before going out in the evening and it’s portable enough to take to another flat."

    Compact and lightweight, this portable Bluetooth speaker was made for a uni house. Plus, it has an impressive bassy sound and a 15-hour battery life.

  • John Lewis desk tidy

    John Lewis Rose Gold Desk Tidy

    Keep your desk looking pretty and tidy with this rose gold storage from John Lewis. There's also find a matching tablet holder and pen pot available.

  • Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 Instant Camera

    Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera

    Polaroid pictures are one of the easiest and most fun ways to decorate your halls or uni house. Plus it's a great way to keep hold of your memories for years to come.

  • Posters

    Etsy Retro Cocktail Posters

    A student says

    "Most halls come with a very plain pin board that can be a bit bleak to look at. I would order some fun designs to decorate the wall! There are lots on Etsy."

    These retro posters are perfect to brighten up your bedroom or kitchen. Put them in frames or add to your pinboard..

  • Dunelm fairy lights

    Dunelm Rattan String Lights

    Make your room feel extra cosy with these rattan string lights fron Dunelm. They're battery operated and at just £6 you won't be precious about them.

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