The thing on the right can help you save the things on the leftLouis Ashworth

If you’re an incoming undergraduate, thinking about the potential financial benefits can seem a little counter-logical. So Jeremy Corbyn didn’t quite make the cut this time around, and you’re probably about to lump yourself with the first of several years of loans running into the tens of thousands of pounds – debts you may never pay back, if you’re an arts student.

With those cheery thoughts in mind, it’s best to be as financially savvy as you can now you’re signed up for University life. Once you’ve got your Camcard (student ID) and CRSid (your Cambridge internet login), you’re eligible for a number of discounts or freebies, some of which shouldn’t be sniffed at.

Here are Varsity’s picks of the best deals for Cambridge students.

1) Microsoft Office

Microsoft's suite of productivity tools – including work staples Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook – is often an obligatory purchase for first-time university attendees. If you’ve just bought a new laptop, it’s usually the first software you’ll purchase.

Luckily for Cambridge students – and an alarming number of current students don’t realise this – we get Office 365 ProPlus (not to be confused with Pro-Plus, which plays an entirely different role in academic study) for free via the University Information Services. Once you’ve got a login, just head to their website, follow the (slightly fiddly) instructions, and voila! – industry-standard word processing, number-crunching or presentation-producing tools are yours.

2) UNiDAYS/NUS Extra discounts

A recent entrant to the competitive student deals world, UNiDAYS offers one of the simplest all-round platforms for getting student discount. Deals change all the time, but 10% off deals from companies like Apple and ASOS are pretty perennial. It’s free, which in the modern internet world means that the price is they are probably selling your data – your call.

Alternatively, the NUS Extra card, sold by the National Union of Students, provides many of the same deals as UNiDAYS, at a cost. It’s £12/£22/£32 for one/two/three years of the card, which gives you discount at a range of shops and restaurants. Among the most notable of these deals is 10% off at the Co-op – not of much use to central college students, but of potential interest to Newnhamite and Wolfsonian students, or grads living in Newnham ward.

3) Free entry to the Botanic Garden

Ok, so they’re owned by the University, but that’s no reason to sniff at free entry to Cambridge’s Botanic Garden, which hosts greenhouses and an impressive away of exotic flora. Whimsical garden wandering may not be every Cantab’s cup of tea – especially in the bleak fenland midwinter – but if you want to get in touch with nature during your studies it offers something for any ecocritically-minded Engling or BioNatSci. As well as being home one of the University’s better cafes (sadly, not free), it’s also a great place to take family members checking-in during Michaelmas, or for post-exam frolics.

4) Free access to The Economist

Now that you’re coming to Cambridge, you’re well on your way to becoming part of the global, liberal, metropolitan elite – how better to celebrate than by reading one of their favourite newspapers? The Economist, often regarded as one of the world’s most trusted news sources, is free to access via a Cambridge library portal. It’s a little fiddly: you have to go in via the portal each time, so if you seen an article you want to read, you may have to manually access the homepage then navigate to it.


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To get access, all you need to do is go to this library resource page, click on the Economist.com link and login via Raven with your CRSid. Whilst you’re there, you might notice that there’s a lot of other resources available. Which leads us on to point five...

5) Free access to basically every book published in the Western world

Ok, so this one is a bit of a fudge, but it warrants saying. Sure, you can brand being a student as essentially having a £9,000+ a year library card, but what a library. Yes, you’ll mainly be using libraries for those essential copies of early modern favourite Renaissance Self-Fashioning and NatSci cornerstone Why Geese don’t get Obese (and we do), but they also contain more brilliant books than you could possibly want, all ready to borrow.

Admittedly, sometimes a novel isn’t quite as easy to enjoy when it’s borrowed, but the obscure marginalia of Cantabs past more than makes up for the occasional coffee stain on your critical edition of Paradise Lost. Beyond books, there are magazines, DVDs and historical artefacts galore – you might not realise how good it is until you can’t access it anymore, or you’re in final year and the idea of reading for fun feels like a cruel joke. By then, it’ll be too late (or you can just apply to do a Master’s, whatever).

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