Category Archives: Hello Kent

Students and staff talking

My advice on how to navigate the PG January start

Written by Caroline Harriman, PhD candidate.

Embarking on a postgraduate program in January can be an exciting but challenging experience. As a January starter, you will be joining the academic journey midway through the academic year, which may feel intimidating to some as they worry about missing out. However, as someone who began my PhD journey on the 14 January 2022, I have some key insights and tips to share about what I wish I had known before starting my postgraduate adventure in the middle of the academic year.

Academic and Wellbeing Resources

Make the most of the academic resources available and take a look at the resources available to you before starting. This includes the library, research databases, Nexus, PG study spaces, and academic support services such as the Student Learning Advisory Service. There is also Student Support and Wellbeing who can support you during your studies and can help you set up any special requirements.

Networking opportunities

Even though you’re not starting with the main cohort, there are still plenty of networking opportunities. Attend seminars, workshops, and conferences to connect with professors and fellow students and keep an eye out for any society-led events. Networking is key in any academic or professional setting. See Kent Union events and events at The Hub (Medway).

Kent Union’s “The Big Fair” and Medway Welcome Fair

It’s never too late to get involved! If you’re based at Canterbury, make sure that you attend “The Big Fair” in the Sports Centre (Main Hall) on Tuesday 23 January 2024, 10:00 – 15:00, for your chance to discover sports clubs, societies, or volunteering opportunities.

If you’re at Medway, head to the Medway Welcome Fair on Wednesday 24 January, 11:00-15:00, where you can find out about all the student societies, groups and sports clubs that you can join.

Embrace Change!

Be Open-Minded: Starting in January might mean adapting to a different environment compared to your peers who began in September however, embracing change, being open-minded, and viewing this as an opportunity to learn and grow both academically and personally will help you settle in quickly and get your PG study off to a brilliant start.

Student wearing coat and hat on frosty day

Essentials for postgraduate students starting university in January

Written by Caroline Harriman, PhD candidate.

Embarking on your postgraduate journey in January brings its own set of considerations. Whether you’re a seasoned student continuing your academic pursuits or a fresh face in the university environment, being prepared with the right essentials can make all the difference. Here are my must-have essentials for January starters, from one January starter to another to help you navigate the January start and set you up for a successful postgraduate experience.

Financial essentials

Manage your finances effectively by setting up a budget and exploring student discounts (Totem, etc.). A student ID card is a valuable asset that can unlock various discounts on books, software, and public transportation. Make sure that if you are an international student you have set up any payment plans, accounts or financial essentials needed.

Travel essentials

If you are planning to go to campus, it’s a good idea to consider the most efficient and cost-effective travel options. If you are commuting by train, you can purchase a Railcard to get a discount. On the other hand, if you are taking the bus to campus, there are discounts on the Stagecoach buses in Canterbury and Arriva buses in Medway.

Winter gear

Given the colder temperatures during the January start, investing in quality winter gear is essential. A warm and durable coat, gloves, a hat, and sturdy waterproof boots will be your best companions as you navigate the campus during the chilly winter months.

Tech tools for digital learning

Ensure you have a reliable laptop, comfortable headphones, and a high-quality webcam for any virtual meetings, seminars, and lectures. Familiarise yourself with essential software early on for productivity and collaboration, such as Microsoft Office, Zoom, and other communication platforms you may need to use during your degree.

Academic Supplies

Stock up on traditional academic supplies like notebooks, pens, highlighters, and sticky notes early on as this will help you settle in quicker and stress-free. A planner or digital calendar can help you stay organised and manage your deadlines effectively and investing in a good backpack or bag to carry your essentials around campus will help you in the long run.

Textbooks and learning materials

Check your course calendar early and acquire the essentials and recommended textbooks and learning materials. Some textbooks may also have digital versions, so explore both options based on your preferences. You can look into the university library database for additional resources and consider joining internal online study groups to share materials and insights.

Organisation tools

Staying organised is key to success in postgraduate studies! Purchase folders, binders, or an accordion file to keep your notes and documents in order. Investing in a reliable planner or using digital organisation tools to keep track of assignments, exams, and other important dates will help alleviate stress and get you into a routine quickly.

Health and wellbeing essentials

Taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing is paramount. Ensure you have a basic first aid kit, any necessary prescription medications, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. Explore local gym options or outdoor activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.




Students and staff chatting

My advice for postgraduate students embarking on a January start date

Written by Caroline Harriman, PhD candidate.

Starting university in January instead of the traditional September intake can be an exciting yet daunting experience. While most students are settling into their academic routines in the Autumn term, you will be embarking on your journey amid British winter. Whether you have chosen a January start for personal reasons or programme availability, here is my advice to help you make the most of your mid-year entry into postgraduate studies, from one January starter to another.

Embrace the opportunity for a fresh start

January is not just a mid-academic year entry; it’s a chance for a fresh start. Embrace the opportunity to set new academic and personal goals. Take the time to reflect on your achievements and any challenges from the past year and use this fresh beginning to recalibrate your ambitions.

Connect with fellow students

Starting university in January doesn’t mean you’re alone; I joined in January and many people were moving in, navigating campus, and attending social events. Building a support network from the beginning will make your academic journey more enjoyable and help you feel connected to the university community. When you are ready, reach out to your classmates and make connections early on. Attend events, and lectures, and engage in any virtual or on-campus activities available.

Familiarise yourself with campus resources

While September starters may have already navigated campus resources, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the available support services as well. Visit the library, The Senate (Postgraduate-only silent study hub), Nexus, Student Support and Wellbeing, and any other facilities that can aid in your academic and personal success. Knowing where to find help will be crucial as you settle into your new academic environment and kick-start your journey.

Be proactive in seeking academic guidance

Take the initiative to meet with academic advisors and faculty members early on; you can find your academic advisors’ details online and schedule some time with them during their office hour or in a casual setting.  Discuss your academic goals, potential research interests, and any concerns you may have, and they can signpost you in the right direction for resources both externally and on campus. Proactively seeking guidance will help you align your studies with your aspirations and make you more confident in your academic pursuits!

Stay organised

With a mid-year start, the academic calendar may feel a bit disjointed, and you may feel that you are out of the loop. Staying organised early on by creating a schedule that includes assignment deadlines, exam dates, and any key events on campus will help you navigate the new term and stay in tune with current events and opportunities. You can use digital organisational tools (such as Teams, Zoom or Monday) or traditional planners (purchasable via Blackwell’s, Amazon or in the city centre) to manage your time effectively and stay on top of your coursework and assignments.

Utilise online resources

Given the rise of online learning platforms, make sure to leverage digital resources available to you! Access the university’s online library database, external research databases (e.g. JSTOR), and any other educational platforms that can supplement your in-class learning. This will enhance your academic experience and provide you with additional tools for success early on.

Two students shopping in Coop supermarket

Where to buy food: supermarkets and eating out

Welcome to Kent! We’ve compiled some information for you around where you can buy food once you arrive, including supermarkets and places to eat out.



On campus we have a two small Coop supermarkets – one in the plaza on central campus and one in Park Wood. Between 8-12 January, the Coop on central plaza will be open 7:00-22:00 (Park Wood Co op will be closed). From Saturday 13 January, the open times for both Coops will return to normal: 8:00-22:00 on Saturday and 12:00-18:00 on Sunday (Plaza Coop) and 8:00-22:00 on Saturday and Sunday (Park Wood Coop).

For larger supermarkets, you might want to catch the bus into town to Sainsbury’s, Asda and Lidl.

See this Canterbury google maps showing supermarkets, international food stores and other useful shops.

Places to eat on or near campus

Between 8-12 January, Rutherford Dining Hall will be open for lunch between 12:00-16:00, the Gulbenkian Cafe will be open 8:00-17:00, Dolche Vita will be open 8:00-17:00 (hot food served between 12:00-16:00) and Sibson Cafe will be open 8:30-16:00.

Over the weekend (13-14 January), Rutherford Dining Hall will be serving food between 8:00-21:00, the Gulbenkian Cafe will be open 8:00-21:00. On Sunday (14 January), K Bar will be open 16:30-00:00 and Hut 9 will be open 17:00-22:00.

Once term begins on 15 January, all our outlets will be open during their usual opening times. See catering webpage to learn more.

In Canterbury city centre, there are loads of places to eat. Look out for student discounts at some cafes and restaurants.



Next to Pier Quays accommodation there is a small Tesco Express supermarket which is open 24/7. Across the road, less than 5 minutes walk away, there is also a large Asda supermarket.

See this Medway google maps showing supermarkets, international food stores and other useful shops.

Places to eat on or near campus

There is a Subway and Domino’s very close to Pier Quays accommodation. There is also a range of restaurants and cafes at the Dockside Outlet Centre which is a 10 minute walk down the road.

Once term begins on 15 January, you can also check out some places to eat at the Medway campus including The Deep End which is part of the Student Hub, the Archibald Hay Mess in the Drill Hall Library and the Venue Cafe in Pilkington.

Sunset with lamppost

Plan your journey home from a night out (Medway) 

Going on a night out? Don’t forget to plan your journey home. 

Check bus services 

Depending on how late you stay out, you might be able to catch a bus home. Arriva is the main bus operator in Medway. Find out more about bus services in Medway

Booking a registered taxi 

If you’re booking a taxi, make sure it is registered. You can tell if a taxi is licensed by checking if there is a licence plate on the front and back of the vehicle. They are usually positioned under or next to the vehicle registration plate. Drivers of licensed taxis will also be wearing an ID badge and you can ask to see this if it is not immediately visible. 

Recommended walking routes on campus 

If you’re walking across campus at night, we recommend you use the following walking routes that are fully lit: 

Campus Security Walking Taxi service 

If you don’t want to walk home alone on campus, you can call Campus Security on 01227 82 3300 and they can arrange for a member of Security to walk with you.  

Look out for your friends and don’t leave anyone behind #StaySafe 

The Old Weavers in Canterbury at night

Plan your journey home from a night out (Canterbury) 

Going on a night out? Don’t forget to plan your journey home. 

Catch the night bus 

You can catch the Stagecoach Uni2 bus after a night out in Canterbury. It’s a 24 hour service (excluding Sundays, bank holidays, Christmas and Summer vacation). Learn more about Stagecoach bus routes and discounts.  

Student safe taxi scheme 

In Canterbury, we operate the student safe taxi scheme with Longleys Private Hire, a local taxi firm. The scheme gives students who find themselves in a vulnerable situation safe travel to their accommodation or another destination, such as a police station or local hospital. Students can request a taxi through the scheme even if they do not have the funds to pay the fare at the time of booking, as fares can be paid later on the Online Store. 

We recommend you sign up to the scheme in advance in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to use it. Registration is quick and simple and all students who register will be entitled to discounted taxi fares on all journeys with Longleys. 

Booking a registered taxi 

If you’re booking a taxi, make sure it is registered. You can tell if a taxi is licensed by checking if there is a licence plate on the front and back of the vehicle. They are usually positioned under or next to the vehicle registration plate. Drivers of licensed taxis will also be wearing an ID badge and you can ask to see this if it is not immediately visible. 

Campus Security Walking Taxi service 

If you don’t want to walk home alone on campus, you can call Campus Security on 01227 82 3300 and they can arrange for a member of Security to walk with you.  

Canterbury Connected Routes 

Connected Routes is a joint initiative been University of Kent, Kent Union and Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). By joining up, we can offer support to you in Canterbury city as well as on campus. Any activation of SafeZone on the Connected Routes will give the Kent or CCCU security control room your location, so they can offer you support. Plus there are refuge points where you can go if you ever feel unsafe or need support. Find out more about the Connected Routes

Look out for your friends and don’t leave anyone behind #StaySafe 


Students in bar

Safety support on a night out

Going on a night out or to house parties are a fun way to meet new people and have a laugh with friends. Here’s a reminder of safety tips to help keep you and your friends safe: 

Drink spiking 

It’s your choice whether you want to drink alcohol or not. Don’t pressure others to drink if they don’t want to. Adding alcohol to someone’s drink without their consent is still drink spiking. Never spike someone’s drink.  

Watch the video below to find out what you should do if you think your friend’s drink might have been spiked.  

Find out more about drink spiking. 

‘Ask for Angela’ initiative  

If you’re on a night out and you don’t feel safe, or you feel uncomfortable and you want to leave discretely, you can ask for ‘Angela’ at bars on campus. All our bar staff at University and Kent Union outlets have been trained on this so they can support you. The initiative also runs in many bars in Canterbury and Medway. You can often spot the ‘Ask for Angela’ sign in the bar toilets to indicate the service is available.   

Canterbury Connected Routes 

Connected Routes is a joint initiative between University of Kent, Kent Union and Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU). By joining up, we can offer support to you in Canterbury city as well as on campus. Any activation of SafeZone on the Connected Routes will give the Kent or CCCU security control room your location, so they can offer you support. Plus there are refuge points where you can go if you ever feel unsafe or need support. Find out more about the Connected Routes.  

‘Zero Tolerance’ to harassment and discrimination 

Our Kent and Kent Union bars and outlets operate a Zero Tolerance policy on harassment and discrimination. Report incidents to premises staff and immediate action will be taken.  

Consent. Get It. Full Stop. 

The University of Kent and Kent Union do not tolerant any form of sexual misconduct, assault or harassment. Check out the consent website to find out how to get consent (it doesn’t have to be awkward!)  

Let’s look out for each other. Enjoy your night! #StaySafe 

Student doing food shop

How to save money on your food shop

The rising cost of living is difficult for many of our students, and we understand that some extra help may be needed at this time. Here are some student tips to help you save on your food shop.

(1) Plan your weekly budget

The best place to start is having a weekly budget to work out how much you can realistically afford to spend each week on food. Start by working out your income – whether you have a part-time job or you’re getting money from your parents, every income you have should be accounted for. You’ll then need to make a note of your regular expenses and subtract this from your income. This should then leave you with the amount you have available for food, activities, shopping, and anything else you need to buy over the week. Make sure you set aside a fair amount for food and necessities, and use this weekly budget to inform your spending decisions and plan your food shopping accordingly.

(2) Take stock and make a list

Make sure you check your cupboards before you head to the shop so you don’t buy duplicate items that you won’t need, and jot down any ingredients you’re missing. This also helps you use up food before it goes out of date. Try to plan what meals you might like to have for the week and make a list of what you need. It can also be helpful to make extra food so you have leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Making a list of what you actually need will help to keep you on track with your shopping.

(3) Do your food shop in the evenings

Most supermarkets start reducing the price of food after about 18:00 so that they can get rid of stock before the end of the day, and make things cheaper that they will no longer be able to sell as ‘fresh’ the next morning. This is great for getting a cheaper food shop – the food will still be fine to eat, just less expensive.

(4) If you can, buy in bulk

Buying in bulk can work out cheaper in the long run. For items with a long shelf life that you know you’ll use – like pasta, rice, and washing up liquid – it’s cheaper and easier to buy larger quantities than to keep getting small packets. Look out for the price per kg or per litre on these items to make sure you’re getting a good deal. If you can afford it, it can make more sense to bulk buy items once rather than buying smaller amounts of items each week.

(5) Keep an eye out for student discounts and cheap deals

There are lots of money-saving discounts online and in stores. As students, you should be able to access student discounts for a range of shops and restaurants, so make sure you always ask if this is available when shopping. For discounts on the Canterbury campus, grab yourself a Totum discount card or a Co-op membership to access rewards and offers in our two Co-op stores. It’s also a good idea to do your food shops at cheaper supermarkets (like Aldi and Lidl) if possible, as this will save you a lot of money in the long-run.

If you’re still struggling, please reach out to our Student Support and Wellbeing team for help. You can also access Kent Union’s Campus Pantry at Mandela Student Centre, and can speak to their Advice Service about any extra support or advice you might need. We also offer a range of emergency financial support options.  

For more information on budgeting, check out our Budgeting Guide.

app store on iPhone

Useful apps to download

Here are some useful apps, services and social media channels to download, use and follow as you start your studies at Kent. From getting around to helping you study smarter, here are a few of our suggestions!

Apps to download

Uni Kent Student App – This will hold all the information you need about becoming a student at Kent – a must have! It has quick links to key services such as your Kent email and Moodle as well as other useful features.

Safezone – This is the campus safety app which gives round-the-clock safety reassurance to all students and staff. It’s free to download and easy to use. You can access first-aid, security, or safety assistance via your phone.

Order Up! – Skip the queues with Kent’s app for table service and click & collect. The app can be used in all University of Kent catering outlets. Simply scan the QR code on the table to order.

Bus apps – These apps have a journey planner, live bus information (in real time) and you can even purchase mobile bus tickets at discounted prices. For Canterbury students, download the Stagecoach app. For Medway students, download the Arriva app. Find out more about travel and discount offers available to students.

Train appsSoutheastern. The ‘on Track’ app helps you access (also) real-time information on trains in Kent. Especially helpful if you’re looking to travel to London from Canterbury West and want to find out when the next train is! There is also National Rail Enquiries which provides information on trains for the whole of the UK if you are travelling outside of Kent.

Taxi apps – Only a few of the companies have an app some of which include: Longley’s Private Hire (Canterbury), Computer Cabs (Medway), and Vokes Taxi (Medway). You can find more information about booking a taxi in the UK and the full list of the services the University of Kent uses. If you’re a Canterbury student, check out the Student Safe Taxi scheme

Circuit – This is the campus laundry service app. All launderettes on campus are card or app operated so if you need to do a wash, make sure you familiarise yourself with the app ahead of time. Find out more about laundry services on campus.

Home at Halls – This app is here to make your life easier whilst living on campus. It has a range of great features meaning you can report any accommodation faults you find, complete your room inventory when you arrive, access important information about your accommodation agreement, contact the team for support and receive updates and more all in one place on your phone. The app is free and whilst you should download the app in advance, you won’t be able to sign in with your Kent login until after you have collected your keys from reception. 

Students’ Union app – Get the most from your student experience with Your Students’ Union App! Your one-stop-shop for getting involved with your Students’ Union. It’s your SU – at your finger tips! Discover events, vote easily in elections and join sports and societies with a few quick steps.

Other things to look at 

Who doesn’t want to work and study smarter? Make sure to check out our software finder to discover free apps and software for students and staff to help you make the most out of your time at Kent. From helping you stay focused to supporting accessibility needs, we’d highly recommend you have a browse. Did you know, you can download Microsoft Office 365 for free?

For student discounts check out Unidays. From discounts on food and drink to clothes to technology it’s a must to check out! Happy browsing!

woman pulling leg to stretch before running

Staying active at uni – free gym membership

Join Kent Sport 

All first-year students and students living in accommodation booked through the University are given free Kent Sport Premium Plus membership! This means you have access to all the facilities and services at Kent Sport.  

Kent Sport operates all the sport and fitness facilities across the Canterbury campus. All students, staff, and members of the public are welcome to become members, with a wide range of benefits including access to:

  • Air-conditioned, fully-equipped gym with cardio, weights and strength training equipment
  • Large fitness and dance studio with up to 60 group exercise classes per week, including our LES MILLS Virtual classes
  • 3 multi-purpose sports halls for almost any indoor sport including an NBA standard basketball court
  • 3 full-size, floodlit artificial pitches for football, rugby, lacrosse, hockey and more
  • 4 full-size indoor acrylic tennis courts within the Indoor Tennis and Events Arena
  • Dedicated boxing area
  • Social sport and activity programmes including ALL Active and Give It A Go (students and staff only) 
  • Access to the Kent Sports Clinic performance, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation services (discounted rates for members)

You can join Kent Sport with a free Pay to Play membership, simply by creating a new online booking account.

Join a student sports club

Kent Union run more than 60 different sports clubs on campus, with sports ranging from American Football to Ultimate Frisbee, and each club is open to any student regardless of experience. The sports are represented at a range of levels, from recreational to competitive, so there is something for everyone! 

View the full list of sports clubs

Sports Scholarship Scheme 

The University of Kent offers athletes the opportunity to join the Sports Scholarship Scheme, which provides sport-specific training, advice, guidance, and funding to continue competing while studying. The Sports Scholarship Scheme is delivered by Kent Sport.

Get outdoors

There are lots of green spaces in Kent, so why not take advantage of them? Going for a jog or a walk outside is great for clearing your head after a long day of studying. 

If you want to start running, parkrun is a weekly free timed 5km run, jog or walk every Saturday in parks and open spaces. The Canterbury parkrun starts at the Sports Pavilion on Parkwood Road, and the Medway parkrun takes place at Great Lines Heritage Park (Gillingham). 

If you’re looking to take in more scenery, then check out Kent Sport’s Active Campus Routes webpage for some popular walking, jogging, and cycling routes across campus and further afield.

Exercise with a friend

It can be daunting to exercise alone in a gym, or to join a sports club by yourself. Exercising with a friend will mean you’re less likely to get bored, and you can motivate each other by planning new and exciting workouts! On those days when you don’t feel like working out, having someone to keep you accountable will mean you’re more likely to stick to your exercise goals.

Cycle or walk to uni

Instead of taking the bus or driving, take advantage of the many cycle paths and footpaths around our campuses. Walking or cycling as part of your commute is a great way of including activity within your daily life – and it’s good for the environment! 

Find out more about walking and cycling at Kent