UCL Life Hacks

Keep these in mind and you'll have 15 minutes more sleep every morning.

1.     Student card = life, so have it to hand

Number 1 rule: Don’t forget your student card. Number 2 rule: Keep it somewhere easy-access. You need it to get into most UCL buildings, so save yourself the missed lectures by putting it somewhere you aren’t going to forget. At the same time, there’s nothing more embarrassing than holding up a queue of people as you rummage in the depths of your bag for it, so keep it within reach.

(Saying that, the first two times you lose it, the replacement is free. See here.)

It's okay, you only have to live with it for 3 years.

It's okay, you only have to live with it for 3 years.

2.    The main quad gates are open 24 hours – the others aren’t.

You’ve been in the library for 12 hours, it’s 2 am, you make the long walk all the way to the top of Malet Place only to find…you’re locked in. Save yourself the trek back by remembering the Gates onto Malet Place close at about 10pm, and the Gordon Street entrance is permanently closed. However, the gates onto the front quad are open all night, you just have to walk through the little security hut and show your student ID.

I guess I'll just live on campus forever then

I guess I'll just live on campus forever then

3.   Shortcuts:

There’s an infinite number of shortcuts around the Bloomsbury campus, you’ll get to grips with them eventually! We’ve made this incredibly confusing video about some of them (if you watch it a few times it starts to make sense). But honestly, the best thing you can do is wander around campus, and soon you’ll know so many shortcuts you can sleep in for 15 minutes.

4.     You can check how many seats there are available in the library

Online. Literal life-saver.

5.     You can still study at uni if the library is full.

You’ve checked the online seat-scale. You’ve gone into uni anyway. Are you mad? Maybe. But there’s plenty of places to study on campus other than the library. Try the cruciform hub, a secret jealously guarded by medics, the UCL senate house hub, the IoE Library, or the UCLU Study on the second floor of 25 Gordon Street. You can find a full list here.

6.     Some of the tables in the library are height-adjustable

This will blow your mind. You think it’s a light switch, but when you press it, your books begin to approach your face? This is excellent if you’re short, tall, a wheelchair user or need a break from sitting down. Not only that, but everyone around you will stare in awe at your apparent powers of levitation.

7.     Drinking water tap locations

On the second floor of the science library, between medical sciences and management. Main library, second floor, right at the end of History. Familiarise yourself. Here’s a complete list handily compiled by someone on wordpress. 

8.     Coffee is very, very cheap in the UCLU cafes

Save yourself the economic regret of going to Starbucks/Costa/Nero when you could go the UCLU cafés and get a coffee with the small change you found in your jeans this morning. We’re not joking – a filter coffee is just 95p! 

9.     You can get a loyalty card to the UCLU cafes

Little-known fact. Big money saver. Features cute dog. Tell your friends.

10. There’s showers on campus

If you’d like to run into uni in the morning, cycle in too many jumpers or um,  fell over in a flowerbed (?), fear not! There are free showers on campus in the toilets of the South Junction of the Wilkins building. In layman’s terms, that’s in the toilets next to the UCL shop and Santander, under Jeremy Bentham in his box.

11. There’s a Bank on campus

With an ATM. Don’t walk to Tottenham Court Road! The UCL Branch of Santander is located in the South Junction of the Wilkins Building. For normal person’s description of where this is, see point 10.

*This doesn't happen

*This doesn't happen

12. Cafes are really busy 5 minutes each side of the hour

Avoid unless desperate for caffeine.


13. All the bars are open during the day if you want to study

If all the studies are packed, or you need somewhere with a slightly less studious atmosphere, all of UCLU’s Bars are open during the day and are generally pretty quiet. Plus the bars start serving drinks at 5pm, so you don't even have to move to get some bevs in.

14. You don’t need to pay full price for a gym membership

Not only is Bloomsbury Fitness literally 5 seconds from where you’ll have lectures, it’s also the cheapest gym you’ll find. Look out for their special offer memberships that are available during fresher’s! If that’s not #fitspo, I don’t know what is.

Actual Picture of fresher in Bloomsbury Gym

Actual Picture of fresher in Bloomsbury Gym

15. There’s lockers

You needn’t look like a pack animal anymore! There’s lockers in the Lewis building, and in many departmental common rooms. 

16. You can get a free lunch

London might be expensive, but it’s full of loopholes for the financially challenged. One of these is a local charity, that we tend to just call the ‘Hare Krishnas’, who give out free hot meals at lunch time outside SOAS. It might look questionable, but considering they work entirely off donations of food and money, it tastes great! We've also written a more extensive blagger’s guide of free places to eat around UCL

17. Enter competitions and surveys – get free stuff

UCLU, the VSU and UCL departments might spam your inbox with emails you don’t read, but quite often they’re running surveys with big incentives. The secret is, no one else reads those emails either, so the chances of you winning an iPad are fairly high. Score!

18. WARPit is like ebay on campus

UCL has this thing called WARPit, which is designed to stop UCL’s and UCL staff’s leftover stuff from going to landfill. So if you’ve got an unfurnished flat, or really like the look of your personal tutor’s chair, check WARP it.

19. Jobs on campus / jobs for students

If you’re feeling strapped for cash (who isn’t?) or want a part-time job, the UCLU JobShop ONLY advertises part-time jobs that are 100% legit. This is also where UCL and UCLU advertise all their jobs, and we’ve heard they pay pretty well.

20. Bar offers

Nights out don’t need to a no-go when you’re strapped for cash! The campus bars do a deal every day of the week- On Mondays it’s £1 drinks, Twisted Ts on Tues and Thurs means %%% off prices, Wednesday is sports night and all drinks are £1.70, whilst 342 Fridays gets you , you guessed it, 3-for-2. So don’t worry about your overdraught, grab your friends and have a draught! That was awful. I’m sorry.

21. Take photos of all your books in preparation for referencing

The no.1 piece of advice my dissertation-drowning friends gave me was to reference as you go. There is nothing, like NOTHING more annoying than having to read a whole book again because you didn’t note the page number. Just snap a photo of the book’s title page, publication deets and the page numbers you need, that way when you leave the library after a 12-hour study sprint you won’t be left kicking yourself for forgetting to reference.

22. Don’t buy your textbooks right away

No one tells you this, but textbooks can be very expensive. £60 for a book you’re going to read 1 chapter of for 1 semester? Um, no. Check out the library website to see if they’ve got it in stock, and if not check second-hand book websites, like the amazon marketplace, waterstones marketplace, abebooks or unilist. Or, post a message on your course facebook and see if anyone’s selling. The second-years are just as desperate for money as you are.

23. Bike racks / bike pumps

There’s looooads of places to park your bike in and around uni, but if you’re looking to avoid a rusting bike or a soggy backside there are covered bike racks outside Foster Court, just off Malet Place. There’s also a bike pump, bike stand and tool wrack with bike-repair instructions. 

Congratulations! Now you know so many UCL life-hacks, no one will be able to tell you’re a fresher!!