Life in Scotland

Life in Scotland

The city of Aberdeen truly has something for everyone. It is a vibrant modern city, with striking granite architecture, a rich and inspiring history, a dynamic modern arts scene and a stunning, dramatic coastline.

For more information about Aberdeen City and links to the entertainment, nightlife and cultural sights on your doorstep, visit the Aberdeen City pages on the main University site.

Getting Around on Campus and the City

Parking on Campus for Students

Parking for students

Student parking is available via annual permits and daily app/web payments.

Annual permits

A limited number of annual permits are available at a cost of £220. A rebate of 25% is available if the permit is returned by the end of June in the year of its issue. Annual permits are issued on a criteria basis and can be applied for by completing an Application Form and e-mailing it to:

Applicants will be informed within 2 weeks of their application being received.

Daily app/web payments

Daily parking costs £1 per day and is available in the student car park at the Butchart building. You can pay for your parking using the PayByPhone website or app using the location code 807579 which is displayed in the car park.

Parking for disabled students

Disabled parking bays are available at various locations across the University. To use a disabled bay you must be the owner of, and clearly display, a valid blue disabled badge. No parking charge is required for disabled users but enforcement measures still apply for contravening the parking regulations.

Students who require parking for disability-related reasons, but who do not have a blue badge, should discuss their situation with a Disability Adviser in the Student Advice and Support Office.


Watch this video to learn everything you need to know about public transport in Aberdeen and Scotland:

On Foot

Of course walking is the most environmentally-friendly way to get from A to B. It's also good for your health, it helps you de-stress and wake up and is a great way to explore the hidden treasures of a new city.

Aberdeen is a great small city which is ideal for walking

  • 25 min (from University to the city centre)
  • 20 min between Hillhead Student Village to University

Almost everything in Aberdeen City is within walking distance, and easily accessible by foot. Finding the quickest route to University or Union Street can be a bit tricky at first, so visit The Urban Walking Route Planner that does the work for you!

By Bike

Aberdeen is the perfect size for cycling.

  • If you don't own your own bike, the Student Association has the highly successful BeCyCle society which offers a free bike lending scheme.

Cycling is good for your health, economical, and excellent for our local and global environment. It's also and enjoyable way to start your day. Always wear a helmet, reflective gear and cycle with the flow of traffic.
Make use of the bike storage facilities across campus!

By Bus

Aberdeen is well served by buses, with a city network run by First Bus and a larger network covering further afield areas run by Stagecoach. You will find the bus routes, timetables and fare information on their websites.

If you are under 22 years old, you are eligible for free bus travel. For more information and to apply for a card, visit this website.

Various ticket types are available to students and it works out cheapest to buy one of the special season tickets. It is also worth remembering that First Buses require exact change; although you can also pay with a contactless card. 

The 9U Bus Service is free for students and staff travelling between Hillhead, Old Aberdeen and Foresterhill. Please show your ID card when boarding the bus. The timetable can be found here.

Check out this downloadable information pdf for more information about transportation etiquette.

Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme for Under 22s

5-21 year olds living in Scotland can now apply to access free bus travel.

Even if you already have a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC, you must apply for a new or replacement card to travel by bus for free.

If you’re aged between 16 and 21 and already have an active NEC or Young Scot NEC, you can download free bus travel onto your existing card using the Transport Scotland Pass Collect app. This means you may not need to apply for a new card to access your free bus travel. provides information on the scheme and how to apply.

There are a number of different ways to apply:

  • Online at 
  • Through your local council: if you cannot, or do not want to, apply online please contact your local council who can tell you how to proceed.
  • Using the Transport Scot Pass Collect app: if you’re aged 16 or over and have an active NEC / Young Scot NEC you can use the app to download your free bus travel onto your existing card.

By Car

The University of Aberdeen has limited car parking available and it is therefore recommended that you use alternative transport. For further information about car parking at the University, visit the Estates Parking page.

Students with disabilities or health issues will be given priority for parking permits.

By Taxi

There are numerous taxi companies operating in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire. Taxis can take you to and from the airport, ferry terminal or train stations and help you to get about whilst you’re here. It’s also easy to take in the sights from the comfort of a local friendly taxi!

Taxis are available at key transport hubs or can be booked in advance directly with local taxi firms. 

Always plan your route home before you go on a ‘night out’

  • In an emergency order a Safe Taxi from Rainbow City Taxis. Use your student card as payment and pay for the journey through AUSA the next working day.
  • Call Rainbow City Taxis on  T: +44 (0) 1224 878787
Galleries and Museum

The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the Zoology Museum. These can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. They have been awarded status as Recognised Collections of National Significance.

The Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved thanks to support from Museums Galleries Scotland’s Recognition Fund, while King's Museum, which sits at the heart of the University’s campus, hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections.

Visitors are warmly welcomed, and there are no charges for admission.  

Find out more on our blogTwitter and Facebook.

  • Aberdeen Art Gallery
    throughout the year, showcases an exciting programme of exhibitions and displays, which complements its permanent collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics and costume. The Gallery's own collection of contemporary art is regarded as one of the best in the country as is the impressive collection of British 20th century art.
  • What's On in Aberdeen
    lets you know lots of events that are happening in Aberdeen and surrounding areas.
  • Aberdeen Performing Arts
    will let you know about the latest shows that are happening at venues around the city.
Exploring Scotland

Did you know that there's a great range of wildlife in and around Aberdeen just waiting to be discovered? We have created this PDF to showcasing what the local area has to offer. From picturesque parks and rivers, to beaches and mountains, we’ve got it all!

While you are at the University of Aberdeen, why not travel around Scotland to discover what this beautiful country has to offer. We have compiled some popular destinations for you to visit during your time here, as well as details on how to get there.

The Cairngorms (Braemar & Ballater)

The Cairngorms National Park is the largest national park in the UK and has everything from castles and distilleries to family attractions and endless outdoor fun. A great number of high and low level walking trails can be found in the Cairngorms, many of which are easily accessible from Aberdeen. 

The villages of Ballater and Braemar are easily accessible from Aberdeen by public bus and offer a variety of light walking routes to discover the Cairngorms.

Braemar is situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and close to Balmoral castle in Royal Deeside. In Ballater, there are a number of walks as well, around the village and into the Cairngorms.

How to get there:

There are direct buses (Stagecoach Bus 201) daily from Aberdeen to Ballater & Braemar, and back. Busses leave from Union Square Bus station. The timetable can be found on the Stagecoach Website.

Remember to bring appropriate clothing and footwear for a hiking trip!

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852 and nowadays serves as summer home for Queen Elizabeth II. 

The Castle is open for visitors from April to July. It is possible to visit the grounds, gardens and exhibitions, and to do an audio tour. Inside the castle, only the exhibition in the ballroom is open for visitors as the remainder of the castle are Her Majesty the Queen’s private rooms.

How to get there:

Balmoral is located between Ballater and Braemar, so there are direct daily busses (Stagecoach Bus 201) going there from Aberdeen and back.

For Balmoral, get off at the bus stop at Crathie, from where it is only a short walk to the castle. The bus timetable can be found on the Stagecoach website.

Forvie National Nature Reserve

Forvie is a nature reserve close to Aberdeen, at the Ythan estuary. It is worth a visit for its striking sand dunes, from which seals can often be seen on sunny days. 

There are several marked walking trails around Forvie, starting at the visitor centre at Collieston, which is open April to October.

How to get there:

Busses from Aberdeen to Peterhead (via Cruden Bay) stop at request close to Forvie Nature Reserve.

The closest stop is Knockhall Road in Newburgh, from where it is about a 20 minute walk to the visitor centre.

The bus timetable with exact times can be found on the Stagecoach website.

Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle

Stonehaven is a beautiful village just south of Aberdeen where you can taste fresh award-winning Fish & Chips for lunch, and take a walk along the coast towards Dunnottar Castle. To get from Stonehaven to Dunnottar Castle follow the signposted walk along the stunning coast (around 2 miles). Make sure to bring appropriate footwear.

How to get there:

There are regular trains between Aberdeen and Stonehaven. From the railway station in Stonehaven it is about a 20 minute walk to the town centre.

There are also buses between Aberdeen and Stonehaven, the timetable for which can be found here.


You'll find all the major retail chains in Aberdeen, with five large city-centre shopping malls, including the piazza-style Academy, Trinity CentreUnion Square and the Bon Accord and St Nicholas Centres. From high street stores and designer boutiques, to quirky independent outlets and thrift shops, shopaholics will be delighted by the quantity and quality of places on offer.

Being a student friendly city, a lot of shops also provide student discount to everyone with a valid NUS card, so you don't have to feel too guilty about that extra purchase!

In Scotland, there is a 5p charge for all bags from shops. Many do sell reusable bags so remember to take them with you.

Where can I buy bedding, and household items?

Students living in University accommodation will need to provide their own bedding and cooking and eating utensils. Information about what to bring can be found on the accommodation website pages.

Depending on where you are travelling from, you might need to wait and purchase these upon arrival. For students living in University and Unite accommodation we have listed a few shops below in case you need to do a bit of shopping (i.e. bedding packs) before you settle in for your first night here in Aberdeen.

  • Morrisons - 215 King Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5DA
    From Hillhead or campus, take bus route 9U to the Gallowgate – a short walk from Morrisons. You can walk easily to Morrisons from the campus.
  • Primark - 143 – 153 Union Street, Aberdeen, AB11 6BH
    From Hillhead, take bus route 9U to Union Street. From campus, you can walk or take bus route 1 and 2 from King Street to Union Street.
  • Argos - Unit 3, Berryden Business Park, Berryden Road, Aberdeen, AB25 3SA
    15 minute walk from campus (they can also deliver to your Aberdeen address).
  • Matalan
  • Dunelm Mill

Living in Scotland

Council Tax

As a full time student, you are generally not liable to pay Council Tax on the property where you are living; however, there are some exceptions.  If in doubt, you can check with our International Student Advisers regarding any Council Tax query.

If you are a postgraduate student in your official writing-up period, you can request exemption from Aberdeen City Council.

This form is signed by your Supervisor and returned to the Infohub or emailed to  Please note this exemption does not apply to other Council areas.

If you extend your writing-up period beyond twelve months, you will be liable to pay Council Tax as you will no longer be classed as a full-time student.

Driving in the UK

If you own a car in Scotland, you must have car insurance and pay for road tax. Find out more information on the Scottish Government website.

You must be insured on the car you're driving, regardless of whether you own it or not.

Find out more about driving in the UK in the Highway Code.

Driving licence

EU/EEA Students

If you hold an EU/EEA driving licence, you are allowed to drive in Britain for as long as it's valid for or until the age of 70.

International Students

If you hold a valid driving licence either from your own country or an international licence, you are allowed to drive in Britain for a period of twelve months starting from your date of arrival, provided that your licence is still valid during that period.

Before the end of the twelve-month period, you will need to check whether you can exchange your licence for a British licence or whether you will need to take a driving test to continue driving. This depends on your nationality. Some countries have special agreements. Further details can be found here.


It may be a good idea to take out a personal possessions insurance policy which covers against theft, damage or accidental loss, particularly of expensive items.

You can obtain further advice on crime prevention and personal safety from Police Scotland.

Medical Care

Medical Care is available for everyone when they need it. Find out more including how to register for a doctor here.

Opening a Bank Account

Watch this video to find out how to open a bank account:

Banks may not allow you to open a current (student) account until your credit record can be checked.  However, you should be allowed to open a savings account where you can deposit money.

You will need some key documents to open your first student bank account:

  • A bank letter from the University
  • Your passport
  • Your Unconditional Letter of Acceptance (CAS Letter)
  • Proof of your Aberdeen address (such as accommodation contract)
  • Your visa (if applicable)

Once you have completed registration and have a home and term address showing in your Student Hub, a bank letter will be emailed to your University account.

If your preferred bank is not included in the electronic letter or if the bank has requested a letter addressed to them, you can access a hard copy of your bank letter by visiting Infohub.

Register to Vote

To vote in an election or referendum people must be registered to vote. In Scotland you can vote in local and Scottish Parliament elections when you are 16 and UK and European Parliament elections when you are 18.

You can register to vote if you are:

A UK citizen

A qualifying Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK (someone who has leave to enter or remain in the UK, or does not require such leave)

An EU citizen resident in the UK

Register Online

You can register online in just five minutes by providing your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number.

For more information

If you are not registered or have questions about voting by post or proxy please telephone 01224 068400, email, web, or visit the Electoral Registration Office at Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen, AB16 5GE.


Aberdeen is one of the safest cities in the UK and been awarded five consecutive Purple Flags for safety in the city centre. Purple Flag status is given to UK towns and cities in recognition of the safety and security enjoyed by their residents, and Aberdeen is one of only two Scottish cities to receive accreditation.

Find out more about your Personal Safety, Campus Security, Online Safety and Security and more here.

Sanitary Products

The University and AUSA are proud to support the Scottish Government initiative to reduce Period Poverty by supplying free sanitary products. You can find a list of all locations on campus here.


We are committed to adopting a whole University approach to sustainability and social responsibility. We will ensure that limited resources are used effectively and activity is conduced in a way that minimises environmental impacts, while demonstrating an awareness of ethical and social responsibility. Read about our sustainability commitment.

  • Currently we are 5th in the world for responsible consumption and production. We are committed to a net-zero carbon omission before 2040. We will:
  •  Encourage everyone within our community to work and live sustainably, recognising the importance of our time, energy and resilience
  •  Educate all our students and staff to be leaders in protecting the environment
  •  Excel in research that addresses the climate emergency, enables energy transition and the preservation of biodiversity
  •  Achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2040
  •  Generate resources for investment in education and research year on year, so that we can continue to develop the people, ideas and actions that help us to fulfil our purpose

Support our sustainability efforts

  • We have recycling bins across campus in all buildings. Find out more information here.
  • Living in University accommodation? Find out more about recycling here.
  • There are a lot of charity shops in Aberdeen where you can donate as well as pick up a bargain. You can also volunteer at these too. If you want to track down these little gems, you can find a lot of them in the Rosemount area or on George Street or King Street.

The Law and the Police

The Police in the UK are classed as public servants. Part of their job is to assist people. If you need guidance or information, you can approach a police officer.

If you prefer to speak first to our International Student Advisers, they have close contact with Police Scotland Diversity Liaison Officers, local Community Officers and Community Wardens. Our Advisers can refer you if necessary.  

In an emergency you can phone 999. For non-emergency police enquiries you can phone 101.

If you are arrested, you have the right to know why and you also have the right to remain silent until you have arranged a solicitor to help you. 

TV Licence

If you are using a TV in your home, it is compulsory to buy a TV licence. Using a TV or any other device to receive or record TV programmes without a valid TV Licence may lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

You can check current costs at :

Further information about TV licensing can be found here.

What are My Rights?

Part-time Work

Stuck for cash? Being a student and working a part-time job is pretty common these days. Some students do it for extra money, while for others it’s more about meeting new people and gaining some valuable experience. Wherever you’re working, it’s important that your job is both rewarding and safe.

Employability information from AUSA, including your employee rights.

Tips from the Careers and Employability Service on work experience during your studies.

Careers and Employability Service guide to student jobs.

More information:

HMO and Private Rental

Many students decide to live in privately rented accommodation at some point whilst studying at university. It is important to be aware of the issues that come with private renting and take precautions to safeguard yourself and your deposit.

Accommodation information from AUSA, including a private accommodation search and your rights as a tenant.

Eight things to check before you sign your tenancy agreement.

International and EU students who are required to provide a UK-based guarantor in order to rent accommodation can now apply for the University to act as their guarantor. Apply for a place and find out more information about the scheme.

More information:

Laws in the UK

It is important to note that the laws here in Scotland may differ from the Laws in the rest of the UK and also in other countries.
You should take some time to familiarise yourself with the laws here in Scotland such as:

  • Smoking laws
  • Drinking laws
  • Don’t drink and drive

More information:

Powers of Arrest

What powers do the police have here in Scotland? When can they stop and search you?

Have a look on the Citizens Advice website to find out.

Working in Scotland

If you’re an EEU/EEA national with a “Pre-settled” or “Settled” Status you are allowed to work without any restrictions.  

If you hold a Student Visa and are a full-time student, you’re usually allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term and full-time during vacations. Please read this guide which outlines your options to work in the UK.  

If you intend to start working in the UK, you need to apply for a National Insurance (NI) Number

Frequently asked questions are getting answered in this video: