Young Woman Outdoors

Starting university with IBD: Freshers' Checklist

Planning to go to university or college can be an exciting but daunting time for anyone. If you have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis - you are likely to face additional challenges and have more concerns and questions.

22-year-old student, Ellie, shares her top tips for managing IBD if you are starting college or university:

  1. Register with a term-time GP.

    As it will allow you faster access to healthcare in an emergency and to any prescriptions you require.
  2. Be responsible for your own prescriptions.

    As your new GP surgery might have different procedures than you're used to. If you're ordering stoma equipment from an online supplier, notify your GP and the supplier of your change of delivery address.
  3. Your university GP may refer you to the nearest hospital for checkups.

    This doesn't mean the hospital you use while at home will no longer see you. It's useful to form health contacts near your university so you can get help quickly if problems arise.
  4. When you go home for anything other than a short break, re-register with your GP.

    As you can't be registered with two surgeries at the same time.
  5. Check that catered halls offer food that is suitable for you, or consider self-catering.

    If you choose self-catering accommodation and are new to cooking for yourself, make sure you are cooking and preparing food safely. Pay attention to use-by dates and store food correctly.
  6. Be selective about which social events you attend.

    New students often feel a big pressure to fit in, but you don't have to attend everything to make friends.
  7. Speak to your Student Disability Service.

    Which will help you with any practical aspects of your condition and may be able to provide you with financial assistance if necessary.
  8. If you're struggling with work or falling behind due to your illness, don't keep it to yourself.

    The sooner you explain to your tutor, the more likely they are to be accommodating and the sooner you can get help.
  9. Consider getting involved with your local Crohn's & Colitis UK network.

    It is a great way to meet others who understand your condition.

My ileostomy didn't stop me from taking part in university life. I informed the university's Student Disability Service about my illness and they helped me access support such as extra rest breaks for toilet stops during exams. My tutor and department were supportive and made allowances for me when necessary. Studying with a stoma and IBD can be challenging, but this makes me more motivated to do well. My illness shouldn't stop me from achieving my goals.

Ellie, 21

Diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2013

This article was first published in our members' magazine, Connect. Delivered to your door three times a year, our high quality members' magazine will keep you up to date with our activities and campaigns, as well as the latest news on research and treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Find out more about the benefits of becoming a member and how you can join us.


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Helpline service


We know it can be difficult to live with, or support someone living with these conditions. But you’re not alone. We provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and can support you to live well with Crohn’s or Colitis.

Our helpline team can provide information on a range of subjects including:

  • Managing Symptoms
  • Disability benefits
  • Medication
  • Diet
  • Test and diagnosis
  • Wellbeing
  • Employment
  • Help to find support from others living with the condition

Please contact us via telephone, email or LiveChat - 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (except English bank holidays).

If you need specific medical advice about your condition, your GP or IBD team will be best placed to help.