Being Under-18 in University


So in this post, I am going to share my experiences and some tips on what it is like to be under-18 in university.

Let’s backtrack a bit. So I went to college for about 8 months before I entered university. It was more of a boarding school experience for me because I was 17 when I started college. This means that I had to adhere to strict rules as the college was acting “in loco parentis”. For example, very strict curfews, having to apply for Exeats to go outside of the boundaries of the town etc. However, that will not be the same case in university¬†of course.

A few common areas between being 17 in both college and university is:

  • No drinking alcohol (Legal drinking age in the UK is 18)
  • I could not buy items like knives, scissors, super glue, correction fluid etc. (Super annoying, I know.)
  • No buying tobacco or cigarettes. (I personally do not smoke but upon further research, I found that the legal age to buy tobacco is 18.)
  • You can’t get your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) by yourself. This is actually rather important and I will expand on it further into the post.

There might be more restrictions for minors that I have not mentioned because I am only mentioning the restrictions that I have encountered myself.

No alcohol? What about my social life?

It should be common knowledge among Malaysians that you need to be 18 to purchase or consume alcohol. It is the same here. The first week of the academic year is Freshers’ Week. That means a whole week of events in Rubix, the university’s on-campus club. I obviously could not join as you need to be 18 to even enter the premises. However, I did not feel like I missed out on much. I was very lucky to have flatmates that were not party animals either. We spent our first week settling in and getting to know each other. After the first week, I had flatmates that I had gotten close to and we started playing board games, having late-night chats and going out to the Guildford town centre during the day. Alcohol and partying are actually one of the worst ways to get to know people, in my opinion. The loud music means that you have to shout at each other or just communicate in hand gestures. The alcohol means that people become pretty unpredictable and new “friends” you meet that night might just forget about you the very next morning! Do not feel pressured into doing or drinking anything you do not feel comfortable with. (Peer pressure ain’t cool, yo!) Drink Responsibly no matter what age you are. (Or none at all for minors. =p)

No knives? How do I eat?

You could always ask your friends who are over-18 to buy some essentials for you. For example, butter knives, a sharper knife for cooking and super glue (I needed it to mend my shoes. Hehe.) It is best that you do not attempt to buy these yourself because it is most likely that you are going to end up being rejected the purchase at the till. Of course, use these age-restricted things responsibly. They are age-restricted for a reason.

How do I get my BRP?

Normally, international students (non-EU) will need to get their BRP card from their allocated post offices. It is not the case for minors. If you are under the age of 18 when you need to collect your BRP card, you need an adult to collect it for you. When it is close to the time you need to collect your BRP card and you are under-18, the university should email you notifying you about this. You will know the details then. But basically, someone from the university can act as your guardian and collect your BRP for you. All you have to do is arrange it with them and give Student Services your passport until they use it to collect your BRP for you. I nominated one of my friends who was over-18 and we went to the post office to get it ourselves.

I hope this post helps and if there is anything else that you want to know about, please feel free to email

Buh Bye!

Isabelle. N