A Fresher’s guide to the University of Manchester
Congratulations, you’re heading off to UoM!
The next phase of your life is about to begin, but don’t worry! Although daunting at first, you will grow to love being at university and, for many of you, living in a new city. I have spent ywo years living in Manchester, so here is my quick guide to help you all adapt and settle in.
The university itself
UoM has a pretty big campus, and I still am finding new buildings and cafes! The Student’s Union has recently been renovated, so be sure to check it out. The SU will be the central hub of the university during your first year as many events, information talks and amenities are located here. The Student Desk acts like a reception to go to if you have any issues or need to find a certain building; the Union shop is open throughout the day to offer cheap meal deals and UoM accessories, and there is now even a barber shop which offers £6 haircuts! And did I mention they have Starbucks? There is also now a new Union bar and restaurant for those times between lectures when you need to unwind and hang out with friends.
Student Services is located behind the SU building beside the Alan Gilberts Learning Commons and is where you can collect lost property, purchase a new student ID card (because you will probably lose it at least once during your degree), and find lots of information and guidance on the university’s facilities.
Food on campus
The cafes on campus are excellent for students because they subsidise their meals and drinks. You will find them dotted all over campus, especially in the larger buildings such as Sam Alex, Whitworth and Uni Place, but also in the libraries and learning spaces. A particular favourite of mine is the café in the Learning Commons beside the SU, as you can bring your drinks with you to the upper study levels.
Maybe it’s because I come from a small village where public transport is non-existent, but I am still to this day amazed at the bus routes through Manchester. Stagecoach is the more popular form of transport to get for students because they offer a student bus pass for the year or for one semester. The annual pass is currently £250 and I strongly recommend you purchase it if you live in the likes of Fallowfield.
A bus arrives every 5-10 minutes during the weekdays and with your bus pass, there is no need to dig around your bag and pockets for loose change. Also, it works out cheaper than paying for a bus fare every time you get on a bus. There is a bus stop right outside the SU, Uni Place, and most halls of residence. But if you would rather walk or cycle, a bus fare on the Stagecoach Magic Bus is only £1.50 each way, from Didsbury to Piccadilly Gardens and vice versa.
Manchester is a city buzzing with music, dancing and laughter so you will not struggle to find a club, bar or pub that doesn’t tickle your fancy. The city centre is more expensive to party and go out in, for example, in the likes of Deansgate locks, but there are places such as Factory, Fifth, Gay Village and student bars on campus where you can have a good time and not break the bank. Factory offers £1 entry on certain weeknights and Squirrels Bar in Fallowfield serve £1.70 pints!
Also, keep an eye out for gigs and special events being held across the city. The SU generally keeps you informed about the upcoming gigs they will be hosting, but other establishments in the Northern Quarter host an array of musicians, bands and comedians. Matt and Phreds is a jazz and blues bar which holds open mic nights with their house band, and invites musicians from the audience to get up on stage to perform with them!
Events and the Arts
When you are registered as a student, you will be directed to the MyManchester website where you will find your timetable, module resources and uni email. But you will also be able to use this platform to look up what is happening at the uni and in Manchester that week, month or even year! There are tours of the city and university held almost on a weekly basis, library tours (which I highly recommend!), exhibitions in the Whitworth Art Gallery beside the SU, and student-led plays and performances. And speaking of the theatre, if you love theatrical performances, the Palace Theatre and Opera House in the city centre and the Lowry Theatre in Salford always have something new to showcase. Better yet, all offer student discounts on tickets!
Where to live next year?
Whether you enjoy your experience in halls or not, moving out can be a stressful and nervous time. There are many options, however, for you choose from in terms of accommodation in the second and third years. If you want to live in private accommodation near the university, the accommodation office located beside the Whitworth Art Gallery on Oxford Road can help you! Just visit their office or email them your queries (you can find their contact details through MyManchester) and they will be happy to help.
If you and some of your friends want to find a house or flat share, Manchester Student Homes is an organisation that works like a letting agent. They will help you find affordable student properties and act as a go-between almost between the tenants and the landlord during this process. They can check contracts and provide a neutral environment for both parties to talk and discuss rent/deposits. Manchester Student Homes also do not charge commission fees because it is a free, university-run housing service for students. Again, check online through MyManchester or Google for their website or drop by their office in Fallowfield on the Wilmslow Road beside Owens Park.
That’s all my advice, for now; have a fantastic time at Freshers and I hope you enjoy Manchester as much as I do!