As the new academic year is almost upon us we thought it would be helpful to offer a few light hearted but well meant ideas for gifts for students who are beginning new courses.

Many students will be leaving home for the first time and will suddenly begin to realise the true cost of living.  Even though Student Unions up and down the country try hard to shelter the newcomers from the true price of beer there will come a time when the blue and brown beer vouchers are thin on the ground.

For less than thirty pounds you can buy a complete Home-brew kit – tomorrows professional drinkers need to be able to reflect back on the good old days when they brewed pints for less than 40p but failed to heed the manufacturers advice of storing for two weeks after bottling/barrelling resulting in getting an upset tummy.

Students coming to the South West will find very few home brew specialist shops – Exeter Students can stock up at Quayside homebrew a curious shop which stocks a good range of beer kits, equipment and ingredients for homebrew enthusiasts and newcomers to the sport.

I’d like to mention my personal favourite but was horrified to find that Merv and Hazel at the homebrew centre have retired. Cheers!!

For a medical student or anyone beginning a medical training course a stethoscope is a must. I believe that some medical schools have a list of recommended stethoscopes for medical students so beware if buying one as a gift – it may not be approved by the medical school.  The Littman cardiology III stethoscope is almost certainly on the list of any Medical School and although it is higher in price than many other Littmann stethoscopes you can be sure it will be a high quality tool for the job.

A colleague just mentioned “pens” but I suspect this generation of students would prefer a groovy portable pc,  notebook or laptop computer. And what a choice there now is – even adding colour options (at a price) to “reflect your style”.  The only way forward would be to take the views of real customers and a selection of blog posts help identify things to look for, avoid and recommended shops to buy from.The laptop rural family living blog suggest Toshiba Laptops which although far from the cheapest laptop offers a good range of entry level and professional machines.  On the other side of the coin our chum at Extreme Power laptops cites laptops as the topic of his latest post although it is not especially helpful.

For 2nd 3rd year returning students  who have overspent and already living a life and funding studies with credit cards to help ease the repayments before they find gainful employment (or crap jobs) after college.

Alternatively you could just stuff  a wad of notes in a brown envelope and let them decide.

If only there was a pasty gift voucher – Munch on and best wishes to all new students.