Coming to university might be the first time you’re independently responsible for your allergies. So, it’s understandable if you feel anxious, or have lots of questions.

This brief outline will help you know what to expect, along with some tips to help you settle into student life.

Letting people know

This might well be one of your biggest worries. While you’re settling into a new place and meeting lots of new people, telling people that you have a serious allergy (and that you might need their help to administer medication, or call an ambulance) maybe the last thing you want to do. Don’t worry, within Colleges, your College Team can help you with this.

Telling your flatmates

During Welcome Week, your College STYCs and STYMs will be around to help all students settle in, and can help you to speak with your flatmates about your allergies and anything they need to be aware of. This gives everyone the opportunity to talk openly and reach joint decisions on how you’d like to live together in the upcoming year.

You may not want to disclose your allergy but, if you do, this might be a good place to discuss it. The College Team can help you talk about your allergy with your flatmates, and the practicalities of what this might mean for them and you. When filling out the Pre-Arrival Survey if you disclose an allergy the College Team can reach out to you before you arrive and offer advice on letting flatmates know in advance.

Telling others

When you apply for a room on campus, you’ll have the chance to tell us about your allergy. If you have any additional requirements – like the need for a mini fridge in your room for medication – you can request this in your accommodation application.  

It’s a good idea to let key staff members know if your allergies might affect your studies, such as your personal tutor. This is particularly important if you are going on field trips or taking part in shared meals on your course.

If you have food allergies, you may be worried about sharing a dining room, food preparation and storage space. Here are a couple recommendations from students just like you:

  • Use your own washing-up sponge and tea towel: you can either label it and keep it in your personal kitchen space/cupboard, or keep it in your room
  • Wipe down surfaces before preparing food
  • If your allergy is severe, keep your food and cooking utensils (e.g., toaster) separate and labelled to avoid cross contamination.

    While you may feel self-conscious at first, these are great ways to remind your flatmates of your allergy, while keeping you safe. If you have any concerns or are finding it difficult to communicate your needs to others, please get in touch with your College Team who will be more than happy to help. 

Eating out

When you’re out and about on campus, you’ll find lots of ready-made, pre-packaged options like snacks and sandwiches with clear labelling. Our freshly made hot and cold options don’t display allergen information, so please ask a member of staff before you order.

If you’d like to arrange a meeting to discuss your needs, or to give feedback, contact

In the city

You might already feel confident about what you need to do when you dine out. If not, here are a few pointers:

  • Check the restaurant’s menu in advance, if you can
  • Ask to see allergen information if it’s not on the menu
  • Tell your server you have an allergy, and ask them to make a note on the order that is sent to the kitchen
  • Make sure the people with you know about your allergy
  • Don’t assume a meal will be ok without checking
  • Some styles of cooking or cuisines may make cross-contamination or the presence of your allergen more likely. If your friends have chosen a restaurant which can’t promise to offer a safe option for you, don’t be afraid to explain and suggest an alternative.

Your responsibilities

It’s important to take good care of your needs while you’re living independently.

  • Medication
    If you need medication such as an auto-injector (EpiPen), always carry it with you. If you find it hard to remember, set a reminder on your phone. If you carry information to alert others about what to do then make sure this is visible and tell those you are going out with what you can do. Register with Safezone so Campus Safety is aware of your allergy.

    Make sure you keep your medication up to date – many manufacturers have an expiry alert service, which will text you when your medication needs to be reviewed – and don’t forget to store your medication correctly, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. 

    Student life might mean finding yourself in new situations and behaving differently to how you would at home. To make sure you safely enjoy your time at university, it’s a good idea to be aware of how these might impact on your allergies.
  • Alcohol and drugs
    Alcohol can increase the severity of an allergic reaction. Be aware that you may have a worse reaction if you’ve been drinking.

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can also have the same effect.

    If you’re using alcohol or recreational drugs, you may not recognise the early signs of a reaction as quickly as usual, which can delay you getting the help you need.  
  • Kissing and sexual contact
    Allergens stay in the mouth’s saliva for several hours – up to 24 hours, even after brushing your teeth. If you or your partner has a severe food allergy, it’s a good idea to check what you’ve eaten for allergens.

  • Illness and stress
    If you’re ill or recovering from a recent illness, your allergic reactions may be more severe than usual. Stress and lack of sleep will also make you more vulnerable to a severe reaction. So, if you’re worrying about a deadline or preparing for exams, be mindful about how you’re feeling.

    Make sure you’re registered with a local GP – Unity Health is the nearest surgery to campus – and don’t forget that the University’s many support services are here to help you, including your College Team.   

  • Communal spaces
    Study spaces, library desks, coffee shops and communal social areas may have surface allergens left by other people. You might like to carry a pack of wipes with you to make sure you can clean an area before you use it.

Other sources of help

The University is committed to giving you the best student experience possible. That’s why we work closely with current students to constantly improve our service and ensure the support we provide helps every student get the most out of university life.   

If you need some help or advice to manage your housing situation, any shared living issues, or anything else which is affecting your wellbeing, there’s a range of support available. 

Some of the advice in this guide comes from the Anaphylaxis Campaign, the UK’s charity to support people at risk from severe allergies. You can find more advice and support on their website.