With the cost of living on the rise, it can seem difficult to truly enjoy your university experience without breaking the bank, so we have put together some tips to help you make the most of your money while at university. London is one of the most expensive places to live, but this doesn’t mean you have to go without. According to research carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS), 96% of students are cutting back because of the economic crisis. You can find the statistics of the survey HERE. 


If you are really struggling at the moment, head to this page for more specific information about Financial Support and things the university has put in place. This page, however, is all about the student tips, aimed specifically at Birkbeck Students. 




According to NUS, socialising is the area students have had to cut back on the most. In London we have access to some of the best activities out there, so we thought we would give you some ideas that are a bit more budget-friendly.  


Museums and Galleries   

Some of the most famous art and history are displayed around London. The range of options is huge and some student favourites include The British Museum (which is right next door to the main Campus), The V&A, The Natural History Museum, The National Gallery, Science Museum and The Wallace Collection. You will be happy to know all of these places are free to visit but may require booking in Advance. There are also many more you can find around London! 


Theatre and Opera  

Many shows in London have discounts for students and for people under the age of 25. The English National Opera, National Theatre and The Battersea Arts Centre are just some examples. You can also head to your favourite theatre or opera house’s website and search for student prices. Another way to save money is to buy tickets the same day through Today Tix or Lastminute.com, and do not forget to check out these offers for under 30s! 


Parks and Gardens  

Hanging out with friends, studying, or going on a walk in some of the world-famous parks around London is definitely part of the ideal uni experience for many students. Hyde Park, St James’s and Green Park are some to name a few. If you’re looking for something a bit closer to our campus then right around the corner is Russell Square and Regent's part is a short walk down Euston Road.  



London has a rich and interesting history, so be sure to check out some of its world-famous landmarks! Take a stroll through Green park to Buckingham Palace, hop on the tube to the Houses of Parliament, and be sure to visit tower bridge, the Shard, and many more. All with the added benefits of getting in your daily steps. 


Students' Union & Events  

Our SU has a wide range of events that we host throughout the year, many of them free of charge. Be sure to keep an eye on our events page and you might find something you’re interested in! We’re also always looking to engage with students so if you want to get involved make sure to get in contact. 


Remember to check before buying different tickets in London if they have a student discount, you don't want to miss out on all those savings! 





London is one of the busiest cities on earth so there’s no shortage of ways to get around town.  

Have a look below for some tips to save on each of the many different options to get through the city. 


Underground and Overground 

With the closest stations to the main Campus being Russell Square and Euston Station, it's good to know that you have direct transport links to all over London. When you Travel to different zones your cost goes up, but you may be able to save money by travelling before or after peak times. Buying a tube and rail travel card is also a great way to save, just head to the TFL photo card website to get your student Oyster card, which gives you 1/3rd off weekly, monthly and yearly travel cards! 


Buses and cycles 

These two are definitely the most budget-friendly options with a bus ticket costing £1.75 and the average 30-minute bike hire costing £1.65.  You can get a subscription for the Santander cycle for £20 a month as well as different bus/tram travel cards. If you cycle with your own bike, there are places on Campus for you to LOCK UP your bike (Remember, it’s your property to look after!). 


Student Prices  

As a student, you can apply for a student oyster card to save money on your travels or a student Railcard which gives you 1/3 off trains and can be added to your Oyster. You can find out more information about the 16-25 Railcard here or the 26-30 Railcard here.



We know that walking isn’t sometimes the best option, the quickest option or even the simplest but getting in these daily steps can help in so many ways. It’s a great way to exercise, see the sights and save money all at the same time! So, before you fork out the money for a train, consider leaving the house a few minutes earlier and getting out there! 





The cost of the very basics has risen massively in the last few months, and because of this many students are not able to afford their weekly food shops. In January 2022, 5% of students were accessing food banks and now the number has increased to 11%. To try and help this our SU in collaboration with the University has put together a food pantry in the main university building. If you’re ever in need, please don’t hesitate to pop in and grab a few bits. There are also new microwaves around campus that students can use if you wish to bring in your own lunch to save some money from the expensive places to eat nearby. 


Other tips  

  • You may have seen that SOAS offers a free lunch outside the main building Monday to Friday all year round. You are also allowed to bring your own Tupperware to eat later. 
  • TOO Good To Go is an app that allows for less waste and more sustainability by offering reduced prices in shops that may have gone too wasted otherwise.  
  • Budgeting - When grocery shopping, it is always good to try and plan your food ahead and do a big shop instead of multiple small shops. It’s also always a good idea to think about where you shop and to always get a loyalty card if they have one! (Definitely get a Tesco club card). Some shops may also offer a student discount, and you may find some good deals with a TOTUM CARD 



University Funding


If you’re really struggling, make sure to have a look at the support on offer from the University, or contact our advice team and they will send you in the right direction. Head to the University Financial support page HERE for more Information. 



Health is wealth


Looking after your health at university is key to staying on top of your study, so knowing that you can get free prescriptions/dental treatment/optician visits for students who qualify under the HC1 scheme may be useful to know.  

There are many ways to stay on top of your physical health while at university, with many gyms offering students monthly prices as well as discounts on gym classes.  

Headspace is an app that aims to elevate symptoms of mental health and gives 85% off on student plans. 

Community Pantry, Students who are able to donate dry non-perishable foods (canned food, pasta etc) can leave their surplus and students who need food can take what they need. No need to sign up to anything, just give and take.

In some areas of London, care leavers who don’t qualify for council tax exemption due to part-time study should still be able to access an exemption up until age 25 (region specific, in some local authorities it’s only up to 21)

The Students' Union does have some free condoms, as well as some free sanitary products. If you’re interested, head to our union office located on the bottom floor of the Malet Street building (next to the main Campus) and we can share them with you. We do sometimes get sent different freebies that we keep in the entrance of the office, these range from skincare samples to discount leaflets that you may wish to pick up. 





The Students' Union has put together different book recommendations from your fellow students, these are all available at the library or completely free online. Reading for pleasure can increase many of your skills and improve both your health and well-being. You can also become a member of your local Library and borrow books. It is easy, more sustainable, and it will encourage you to read more, and libraries are always a great place to engage. If you have any book recommendations make sure to let us know! 


You may also find some online libraries which can be very useful to download text for free in a legal way, including The Anarchist Library or Project Gutenberg


Societies and Clubs at Birkbeck


One way to put yourself first is by joining a Network, Club or Society here at Birkbeck. These clubs may come with small fees but are definitely a lot less expensive than you would pay in other places around London. Becoming more sociable, creating new friendships and general time away from study, are only some of the benefits you can get from joining one of these groups. You may also wish to create campaigns or groups of your own. For more information about the clubs you can join, click HERE.  


Other ways to save money

  • Some FREE activities can be found HERE
  • Read the statistics about the survey done by NUS HERE
  • Some other tips to save money can be found HERE
  • A range of free events can be found HERE  
  • Save the student offers some free advice HERE  
  • One-family offer some good tips HERE 
  • UCAS has a section on how to save money section HERE 


Content Created by William Sarenden, in collaboration with the SU

© Birkbeck Students' Union

Birkbeck Students’ Union is a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) registered in England and Wales, charity number 1142614.

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