A friend or relative just had great A level results and off to uni? Awesome! Struggling to come up with a great gift idea? No problem. Leverage our insider knowledge with this list of genius gift ideas for students starting university to send them off with a bang.

Our best advice is to try to steer away from gimmicky gifts as they will be abandoned quickly.

Students are setting out on a new life and so the trick is to give them gifts that are useful, so tech gifts or the basics are a good place to start.

Genius gift ideas for students starting university

Our Top 5 popular student gifts

Nosh for Students – A Fun Student Cookbook – Photo with Every Recipe

First written by a Mum when her son came back from Uni sick from a poor diet. Joy May gives simple to follow instructions, a photograph with every recipe and most helpfully, weekly ingredient planners. One of the best gift ideas for students starting university. Buy it.

A Guide to Uni Life: The one stop guide to what university is REALLY like

Written by a university student who realised there were a whole bunch of things she wished she had known before arriving. A popular best seller that speaks for itself.

Desk lamp

The next generation of desk lamps. This stylish lamp is fully adjustable with a number of brightness and colour settings. Especially helpful for those long dark winter days of study.

Uni Life Hacks: Insights from the UK’s Most Successful Students

Uni Lifehacks teaches you how to succeed at university – from the people who have been there and done it. The book combines over one hundred student lifehacks and the best scientific research for success at university. From this book you will learn; how to understand any degree topic using the technique of a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, how to cook easy and delicious meals (recipes from viral sensations Mob Kitchen), how to reduce exam stress through scientifically backed techniques and how to never have a washing up argument with your flatmates!

Student Hacks: Tips and Tricks to Make Uni Life Easier

This fully illustrated manual solves your everyday dilemmas, from ways to make your student loan stretch further to revision hacks and much, much more. Whether you’re a fresh-faced fresher or a seasoned student searching for shortcuts, this trusty guide will make your uni life easier, more productive, and most importantly, more fun.

Tech gifts for students

Sony MDRZX310 Foldable Headphones

Playing loud music late at night isn’t going to make any friends, so these headphones are the obvious solution. Chic and foldable, they are a great gift for students.

Kindle bundle

It is a drag to cart loads of books around, so a Kindle reader will help students by keeping all their books in a digital format. This bundle is a great entry level package at an affordable price.

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music GPS Multisport watch

This Garmin watch will help your student chum to stay fit and active. It comes with music functionality so what’s not to like?

Projection Alarm Clock Radio

Never miss a lecture with an alarm clock left permanently in the bedroom. This will mitigate the risk of a student’s mobile running out of power, or being left at the bottom of a bag. This popular alarm clock is very affordable and energy efficient. It also charges a mobile phone. A perfect little gift.

Toshiba TransMemory U202 128 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive

A USB flash drive with 128GB of memory. It should last a while…

HP Envy 6020 Wireless Printer

A highly recommended printer and scanner that comes with an option for HP Instant Ink. It can print from your phone as well as your laptop. A perfect gift for students.

Apple MacBook Pro

Pretty much up there as top of the range from Apple. It is a beautiful, fast and effective piece of kit with a price tag to match. Not a laptop to be spilling coffee over.

Audible Free Trial

Why not gift a free trial to the Audible book service? One book is offered free (two if they have Prime) and after 30 days the trial ends and they can either cancel or take up the membership. 

Students do lots of reading during the day so what a treat to listen to their favourite genre via Audible.

Gifts for Students – the basics

Messenger Laptop Bag

A practical and casual bag to carry to and fro is top of our list for usefulness and necessity. A backpack could also work, but we like this messenger bag which looks cool, but has the added bonus of being big enough for a 15 inch laptop. It comes in a choice of colours and has loads of room for everything needed for a day at uni.

Mob Veggie: Big Flavors on a Small Budget

Perfect for the vegetarian cook on a budget, and stuffed with delicious, easy, and accessible dishes that absolutely anyone can cook with the aim of feeding four people on a limited budget. Tuck in and save the planet.

Louisiana Vertical Grey & White Stripe Duvet Cover Set Bedding 100% Cotton 200 Thread Count, Double

While the university might provide linen, there is nothing better than your own cotton sheets. We picked this set because it is affordable and 100% cotton. More importantly though, it isn’t an overly fussy pattern which isn’t cool, or plain, which will be more likely to show the dirt. Student linen doesn’t tend to have a long life span, so this is a great solution.

Prime for Students

Prime for students is a great option as it starts with a six month free trial and then a 50% discount on the full Prime cost but offers all the benefits of Amazon Prime. The gift that keeps on giving.

Laptop Computer Backpack – Fits most 17 Inch/43 cm Laptops – Black

This great basic backpack has a multi-compartment design to hold books, folders, accessories, pens, and other items. On the outside of the backpack, mesh pouches provide storage for water bottles and coffee cups.

Trespass Qikpac Waterproof Jacket for Men & Women

A lightweight easy-pack waterproof jacket that comes in a variety of colours.

Russell Hobbs 1.7L Glass Electric Kettle with Blue LED Illumination 3000W

A kettle in a student room is a must have item. Coffee after lectures and hot chocolate late at night are part of every day student life. This glass kettle holds 1.7l so fits the bill perfectly. The glass, and the blue light that illuminates when the kettle is on, add a touch of style to an everyday item.

Nutribullet 600 series High speed blender for delicious smoothies

Delicious smoothies and juices are only a whisk away. Comes with a recipe book to help your student chum on their healthy eating journey.

Pencil case

A pretty pencil case that comes in a range of colours. Great for storing pens, pencils and other bit of stationery.

Leather pencil case

We thought that this pencil case looked classic and stylish without being too expensive. A step up from the Star Wars pencil cases at school. It comes in a choice of colours.

ChillQuiet Mini Fridge 17ltr Black

A mini-fridge is straying into luxury item territory, but if you have ever had your milk stolen you will know how great it is to have your own fridge. There are lots of options on the market, the smallest taking only six cans of regular coke. We liked this because it can actually take quite a bit.

Silentnight Hotel Collection Pillow – Pack of 2

Pillows are very basic, and don’t really seem like one of our better gift ideas for students starting university. But think about it, would you like to sleep on pillows that a previous student has slobbered all over? Us neither, so try these affordable pillows from Silentnight.

Extra Large Fleece Blanket

A large fleece blanket has a multitude of possible uses. Obviously as an extra layer on the bed on cold nights, but also as a wrap when studying late into the evening, as a snuggle blanket when reading, as a picnic blanket and as a festival necessity. These blankets come in a range of colours and are machine washable.

The Original Jumbo Storage Bag – World Map

Next on our list is another bag, this time for laundry. Hauling laundry from halls, or worse to a launderette, is never a glamorous or uplifting task. These affordable and fun laundry bags will lighten the load. They come in a range of different designs so take a look around. Oh yes, and be prepared for this bag to come home filled with dirty laundry at weekends and holidays….

STABILO Boss Original Highlighter – Assorted Colours (Box of 10)

Highlighter pens are pretty much a must have item. Used when researching and revising, they are part of the armoury of stationery that a university student will need. And this box will keep a student going for some time.

Cooksmart Tea Towels, Pack of 3, Dogs

Tea towels don’t tend to have long lives in student kitchens, so we suggest you go cheap and cheerful with this present. This pack of three are 100% cotton, distinctive enough to be identified in tea towel ownership disputes and so do the job nicely.

Black Leather Folding Travel Photo Frame

A stylish way to remember loved ones and happy events while warding off the pangs of homesickness in early student life. These feelings pass, but happy reminders of home help.

SimPrium Handheld Easygrip Pizza Cutter

A pizza cutter is a must have kitchen accessory for late night pizza take aways. This stylish model has a hand grip and protective guard. A great idea.

Pilot G207 Retractable Gel Rollerball 0.7 mm (Pack of 12) – Black

Despite the age of the laptop, a decent pen is still a valuable gift for a university student. These pens write superbly. Highly recommended.

Sketch Set of 4 Mugs Porcelain Extra Large Coffee Soup Hot Cocoa Mugs

Like tea towels, mugs need to be cheap and cheerful as they are unlikely to have a long shelf life. We like this set because it is simple and the mugs are large enough to double as soup mugs. Sorted.

Cute Ribbed Grey Elephant Doorstop

Bordering on the gimmicky, Elly is a great way to wedge open your door, create a conversation starter and get to know people in your hall of residence.

Red Wine Beer Bottle Opener Wing Corkscrew

There are many more sophisticated corkscrews on the market, but given the work load this will have we recommend a cheap and cheerful option like this one. Opens beer bottle tops as well. One of the perennial great gift ideas for students starting university.

100% Recycled Handmade Multicoloured Cotton Chindi Floor Rug

Campus bedroom can be a bit drab, so a great affordable idea is to add a touch of colour with this rug. Made from re-cycled materials it has great eco-credentials as well. There are a number of sizes to chose from which is a bonus.

Linens Limited Supreme 100% Egyptian Cotton 4 Piece Towel Set

A really good basic idea. A set of four towels, sold as a guest set, but the perfect quantity for our student relative. They come in a variety of colours. Good value gift.

Canvas Leather Trim Weekend Bag Extra Big Size

We love this stylish large bag that will hopefully encourage your student friend to come home and visit for the weekend. A large and practical bag, beautifully crafted. Good value.

Moleskine – 18-Month Weekly Planner/Diary, Weekly Planner 2021/2022, Weekly Notebook with Soft Cover and Elastic Closure

An old school physical diary that runs through the academic year, with a week per two pages. It comes in a variety of colours and in A6 size, but is also available in A5. A handy planning tool for those looming deadlines.

3 X Lock & Lock Food Storage 550ml Rectangular Box

Plastic lunch boxes are not the coolest present ever, but they are certainly useful. Apart from keeping food fresh and doubling as a lunch box, they help to keep your food safe in the communal fridge.

From Pasta to Pancakes: The Ultimate Student Cookbook

The essential and much-loved student cookbook, now in a new edition, From Pasta to Pancakes is filled with easy recipes for the budget-conscious student cook and aimed squarely at those who have never cooked before.

With step-by-step photography illustrating every recipe, it covers key basic skills such as how to cook pasta, pizza, pancakes, couscous, rice or bake a jacket potato, each with many variations.

ProCook Cutlery Soho 16 Piece Set

This 16 piece set provides four place settings. A great cutlery starter kit, affordable but good quality.

18 Piece Basic Dinner Set in White

A good quality basic 18 piece dinner set. Six each of a plate, side plate and bowl will give enough crockery for an intimate dinner party or six days of eating with no dish washing… Either way a great basic gift.

Rayware Brights Red Teapot 6 Cups

When the lectures and the partying and the stress of being away from home all gets too much, what better than a good old cup of tea? So, last in the list, but no means least, we recommend this as one of the better gift ideas for students starting university.

For the more discerning student….

Montblanc Meisterstuck Platinum Classique 164P Rotating Ballpoint Pen

A classic from Mont Blanc. It won’t guarantee a First, but we are sure it will help.

Michael Kors Watch for her

A beautiful watch to ensure the lady student gets to lectures and cocktails on time.

Emporio Armani watch for him

A watch for him. Not much more to say really. It is beautiful. 

How to get more Inspired Gift Ideas

We hope you enjoyed our list and found some gift ideas that will work well for you. We would love to hear your views on this list so please either let us know on Facebook or via this page. See new lists as they are published by following our Facebook page here. Want us to research a gift list for you? We would love to, so please let us know here. Want to find out more about us? Please read here.