Students Rachel Giles By Rachel Giles

How do UK Students Spend Their Time

If you are considering studying in the UK, then you obviously want to know all about the courses available and which ones will suit you the best. However, it is also interesting to find out about what students do in their spare time. Some courses provide students with a lot of free time as there is not a lot of teaching time but lots of free time. This can be filled in any way the student wishes, but there are some things which many students tend to do in order to pass the time. You may be interested in knowing what sorts of activities they are likely to do so that you know whether studying at a UK university is the right thing for you to do. Some of those things are listed below.

Student Union Activities

The student union is a student body which organises events. They have elected members who are all students at the university and so some students get involved with this. Even if they are not voted in members they may help with organising the various events and running the students union. If you do not want to get involved with organising, then you can just go to the events. These will vary a lot, to try to appeal to as many students as possible. Therefore, it is worth checking out what is going on so that you can choose events to go to. You should find events advertised on student noticeboards through the university. It can be well worth attending as the events tend to be cheap as well as enjoyable and they are a good way to meet other students, particularly ones form other departments who you may not meet otherwise.

Extra-Curricular Activities

There will be a big range of extra-curricular activities that you can get involved with. These may be within the university or outside of it. Most people with hobbies will find great benefits in joining a group related to it so that they can have fun with like-minded people. It can be a good way to meet other people and if you join a group outside of the university to meet other people in the town who are not students. You will find groups advertised in local papers and on local websites and the university groups will be advertised on notice boards within the university as well as on the university website. There are likely to be so many that you will easily be able to find something that you would like to join in with. This is encouraged in university to make sure that you make friends and that you do not miss home too much as most students are living away from home for the first time.

Sports clubs

Many people get involved with sport outside of study time. We all know how important it is to keep fit and so this can be a way of making sure that you get the exercise that you need. It can also be a great way to meet other people and have a lot of fun. If you are in a competitive sports club then you may even get the chance to represent the university if you are good enough, which can be a great confidence booster and yet another opportunity to meet new people. You will find that whatever sport or physical activity you enjoy, there will be a club that you can join to share your interest with others. It can be a really good opportunity to keep fit, meet people and have fun. You will probably find that university sports clubs are cheaper than some others and you could use the gym and the pool for less money if you are a student, if you are lucky. It is therefore worth investigating as you could save money compared to using alternative facilities.

Music groups

There are usually a lot of music groups at universities, particularly if there is a music department. You will probably find that there is a choir and orchestra but there are likely to be various bands and smaller music groups that you can join. This gives you the opportunity to play music with others and also the possibility of performing. Some groups will organise concerts within the university that parents and other students can attend and enjoy. This can be a great way to get extra practice for the instrument that you play and will encourage you to learn new tunes and practice more in your spare time. You will also meet other people who enjoy music as well but who you may not have otherwise met with on your course.

Academic clubs

You will find that as well as sports and music there will be more academic clubs. These may be specific to certain departments, although students from other departments may be able to join. These could cover all sorts of things and will depend on the subjects that the university offers as well as the interests of people who set up the clubs. They can be interesting to join if you are studying in that department because you will get extra knowledge around the subject and meet other students that may be on your course with you. However, it can also be fun to join in with clubs in subjects that you are not studying. This will enable you to be able to expand your knowledge as well as meet people studying different things to you.

Games clubs

You may find that there are a lot of games clubs as well. Things like chess, cards and other board games may have clubs, for example. If you a fan of one of these sorts of games, then it can be a great way to play it as it is likely that your friends or flat mates may not be interested in playing them with you. You will find that you will be able to meet other fans of the games that you enjoy and it will again give you a chance to meet students through a common interest that you may not have met otherwise within your course.

Drinking and partying

It is always thought that students spend all of their time drinking and partying. As students have usually only just reached the legal drinking age, then this is rather a novelty and can means that they are keener on it than older people. However, money can be a huge issue for most students, with the cost of courses and living expenses there is not always a lot of money left to buy alcohol. This means that perhaps this reputation is not quite fair. It may be that some go out drinking and partying regularly but this is unlikely to mean every night. The student bar is likely to sell reasonably priced drinks and this could be popular but it is likely that cafes on campus are likely to be just as popular, particularly during the day.


Students should be spending quite a bit of their free time studying. If they want to get a good grade then it is important that they commit themselves to working hard. There will be the opportunity to study in the library or other places on campus but a lot of this may be done at home as well. With most students having computers these days, they will not even need to go into university to type up work, although some will. You should be told by your tutors how long you are expected to spend studying. This will very much depend on the course that you do. There will be classes that you will be expected to attend as well as tutorials or seminars. Then you will have pieces of written work to do and exams to sit. It is important to find out what is expected of you and make sure that you have enough time to fit it all in. Remember that you are paying for the course and so if you do not put in the required effort then you will be wasting the money that you are spending on the course.

Working part-time jobs

Many students have part time jobs which they use to help pay for their living expenses. These can be a really good idea as they will help to top up the money that you may have borrowed with your loan or mean that you will not have to borrow so much money. There are many different jobs that it could be possible to do. You will need to find something that will not clash with the time that you are expected to be in university. This is why a lot of students choose weekend work. However some manage to do shop work or other jobs that have fairly flexible hours that can be fitted around their courses. Many have jobs which do not take a lot of thought which means that they can relax their brain while they are working and save it for when they need it when they are studying.


Many students spend a lot of their free time socialising; perhaps in the clubs as mentioned above or just chatting to other students. This is a big part of being a student – meeting new people and socialising with them and so it is only natural that many people spend a lot of time doing it. It can also be the first time away from home for many and therefore they want to spend a lot of time with others so that they do not have time to miss the family and friends that they have left behind. It can be really sensible and whether you are having a coffee or beer, at a club together or just chatting outside a lecture hall, it is very much part of the experience for everyone.

Trying not to spend money

This is the rather depressing part of student life. Students never have very much money as they do not have the time to work full time. This means they spend a lot of time worrying about money and how they can spend less of it. It can be a topic of conversation which gives all students something in common, but it can become a source of stress as well. It is therefore wise to come up with some strategies of keeping the money that you are spending down to a minimum. It can be good to do this before you start so that you are aware of your options. You need to consider whether there are alternatives to things that you are doing which are cheaper and also think about what sacrifices you are prepared to make in order to spend less money. Remember that it is only the short term, but you still want it to be fun and memorable. At least there is less pressure to spend by other students as they are in the same position as you.


There are therefore a lot of things that UK students do in their spare time but it can very much be a balancing act. Balancing the budget with regards to how much to spend and how much to not spend as well as balancing time between study time, work and extra-curricular activities. The main part of university is the social side and so it is important to make the most of this and take advantage of the opportunities available to you. Studying and getting the best grade that you can is important of course and what you are paying for, but you could do this online without having to physically attend a university and so make the most of being there in person and get involved with everything that you can. You will not get access to this many activities and people in a confined space again and so it is worth embracing the opportunity and enjoying it before you get tied down to a job and family.

About Rachel Giles

I am a 20-something born and bred Londoner who is a self-confessed bit of a geek. I spend my mornings looking after my children and my afternoons writing about money saving for a range of UK websites. I hope you enjoy my content and I simply love reading feedback on my work!

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