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Money Matters

Affordable Oxford

Here are some toptips from our JCR on how to make the most of your budgeting whilst at Ox so you don't break the bank!


  • Make the most of your meals in hall - eat lots! Studying IS exhausting.

  • If kitchens are open, I’d recommend cooking as it’s generally the best way to economise: Some cheap ideas include pasta, dal, and chilli. 

  • Some cheap 'eating out' ideas: Half price itsu on Saturdays, hot pizzas at the pizza counter in Sainsburys, Najar's falafel wraps on St Giles (£3-4 each), Gloucester Green market food stalls, anywhere with student discounts. 

  • Get a Sainsburys Nectar card and Tesco Clubcard – the points really build up and it can save you money in the end

  • Come to JCR in the JCR – It’s every Saturday at 2pm and the Welfare Reps provide free food and conversation.


  • Making your own tea and coffee can save a lot of money. It might not seem like much but buying coffee out really adds up. A good pack of teabags is £3.

  • Get a farthings keep cup – they cost £10 and they give you money off each time you go, they’re also renewable so we’re helping the environment at the same time!

  • If you want to drink for a night out, we’d recommend buying drinks from Sainsburys or Tesco. Alternatively, you can make the trip to Aldi to buy cheaper food and drink.

  • If you're going out clubbing - take cash!! This means you have a limit and won't go over your budget - and if you lose your wallet in the clubs it'll only be a few quid.

  • The college bar is also cheap and sociable!!


  • Westgate shopping centre is just around the corner and there are so many shops – check the sale section and which shops are doing student discounts.

  • Fancy dress! You will have 4 BOPs (often requiring fancy dress) and many clubs also have themed nights. In my opinion, it’s much more fun if you go for the theme! If you can, I recommend bringing something neon as this often comes in handy. Face paint can also be useful. If you don’t have the space, don’t worry! There’s a massive Primark in Westgate which will most definitely have something cheap for any theme.


  • Travelling to and from Oxford can be expensive, especially if you live far away. So if you are using public transport make sure to book well in advance. 

  • Apps like Trainsplitter or Trainline will find the cheapest journey for you.

  • You may also consider getting a railcard (£70 for 3 years).

  • If you have the time, coaches can also be a cheaper alternative.

  • DON'T BRING A CAR to Oxford. Not only is it not allowed, but it's practically useless. Everywhere is in walking distance and most of us have never even had to catch a bus.

What in the world are battels? 

Battels (the name given to your termly bill) have to be paid at the start of each term. You will be sent an invoice to your college email on which you will find:

  • College and University fees (Home students will have this paid automatically)

  • Accommodation rent

  • Costs of any events you've attended (such as dinners)

  • Activities and extra-curricular events in college (such as Arts Week or the JCR Punting Scheme)

  • JCR funds (a couple of pounds that goes towards the upkeep of the JCR)

  • Donations/voluntary JCR fees (for charity)


You'll always have a couple of weeks until you have to pay Battels, so there’s no manic rush if your finances are not quite sorted at the start of term.


Banks, banks, banks

Set up a student bank account, or two, before you arrive in October.  Find one with the best deal for you. Some chuck in a free rail card, while others reward you with vouchers, etc. if you avoid going into your overdraft.  It’s worth working out how to do online banking. It’s a really easy way to keep tabs on how much money you have left in your account.

Also see if you can get a cheque book (Old school right??) However, these are very useful, especially for big payments like the Varsity Ski Trip.

All the main banks can be found in Oxford and there are lots of ATMs near college too. The closest is next to the post office on St Aldates​. You may need to go into the bank if you want coins.

Student Loans

Make sure you get this sorted before freshers’ week. It’s such a pain to be worrying about it when you are trying to settle in. Having said this The Student Loans Company are not very good at doing things on time even if you give them lots of notice. Last year some people didn’t get their loans through until a few weeks into term. Don’t worry about this; college is aware of the problem. It is good to have some money to tide you over in case this does happen.

Visiting and International Students

For international students it’s important to have a British bank account.  Give yourself plenty of time for this so that you are not panicking when you arrive. College can assist you if you have any problems, but you may need to go into a branch to chat with them in person.

It's also worth getting a British phone for the duration of your time as this will be cheaper and easier. VOXI and GiffGaff do brilliant student deals, and VOXI especially offers unlimited social media data. If you're outside the EU, you can also claim VAT back on items £30 and over which is well worth remembering.

Available short term funds/hardship grants

For information about large hardship grants and long-term financial support, see the college webpage

Tutorials Plus + college travel prizes:

  • The Tutorials Plus fund is organised by the college Academic Dept and is for undergrads doing activities related to their subject that are not part of their degree—such as a museum trip, attending a conference, or arranging an academic talk. Grants are usually small (£50 or less) but more can be awarded on a case-by-case basis if resources allow. Please contact the Academic Office if you wish to apply. You will need to give details and costs of your planned activity.

  • The college also has several travel funds for specific degrees/countries, these are subject to change so see this intranet page for a comprehensive list:

JCR Art Fund

​The Pembroke College JCR Art Fund serves to provide hardship and travel grants to students.  As the fund provides grants all year round there is no set amount or deadline for submission. All Pembroke undergraduates can apply at any point during or outside of term.

Art Fund Hardship Grants:

  • The Art Fund provides hardship grants all year round, and there is no set amount or deadline for submission. Applications for a Hardship Grant are completely confidential, and applicant identity will only be seen by the Art Fund Treasurer who will refund successful applicants. Money can often be a sensitive and stressful subject, so it is completely understandable if you don't want any member of the JCR knowing what circumstances you are in. In this case, you can fill out the form and pass it on to someone you trust, such as a Fellow or a Junior dean: they can then remove any indications that would give away your identity and pass it on to the Treasurer.  

  • Please note that the Art Fund is not for persistent hardship. If you have a long-term financial problem, it is much better to speak to the Academic Office, who will be able to advise you about various options such as the Oxford Opportunity Bursary or the Access to Learning Fund. The aim of this fund is for unexpected circumstances, such as an emergency trip home, broken laptop etc. 

Art Fund Travel Grants:

  • Once a term the Art Fund allocates travel grants of up to £300 for students that have a trip planned and require extra financing. The grant is intended for students that have a well-planned and budgeted trip. The trip does not have to be strictly academic but should expand horizons, be it through a course or charity work etc. Grants do not cover language courses for those students studying that language for their degree. Costing and rationale for the trip must be explicit in application and any final award of funds is strictly contingent on receipt of tutor permission by Friday of 7th Week. Contact the JCR Vice President to apply. In addition, students who are awarded grants should send a short report (with pictures!) to the VP following their trip.

Student Loans
Affordable Oxford
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