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Sunday 20 September

Books Plus

What is Books Plus?

It’s a £400 allowance for books or learning related materials* that ARU gives to you at the beginning of each year of study. Please note that postgraduate students on a Masters course will receive 1 award of £400 for the duration of their course (If you’re studying for a postgraduate diploma or certificates you will receive a pro rata amount)

Eligible full time undergraduate students receive £400 a year to spend at John Smith’s online. You can spend all of your £400 at John Smith’s, or up to £100 on Team ARU memberships and up to £100 at ARU Students’ Union on a range of services and goods.

Each year any unspent money rolls over into your next year’s allowance, but each year the amount you can spend with Team ARU and the Students’ Union remains at £100 each. So, if you had £50 left from your first year, in your second year you’d have a total of £450 and could spend all of this at John Smith’s or up to £100 on Team ARU memberships and/or up to £100 with the Students’ Union.

When you finish your course, you can spend any money left on your card up to the end of November of the year you graduate. Any money you haven’t used is then put into our Student Hardship Fund to help students who need it most. Our Books Plus Scheme is designed to help you buy the things we know will help you while you study. Please make the most of it.

*Some courses may have other arrangements in place - please ask for details.

Who is eligible?

All students studying on a course that started in, or before, 2018/19 can get a Books Plus account.

If you started your course in September 2019 then you arn’t eligible for Books Plus, but you may be eligible to receive the ARU Bursary.

To be eligible for ARU funded Books Plus you must:

  • Have started your course in, or before, 2018/19
  • Be a Home/EU student
  • Be on a undergraduate or postgraduate taught course*
  • Be on a course which is not being sponsored by an employer
  • Be a HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council) countable student paying the full tuition fee for your course, pro-rata for part-time students
  • Be studying at our core campuses in Cambridge, Chelmsford or Peterborough (Guild House)

*If you’re studying part time your funds will be pro rata.

Who can’t receive the ARU funded Books Plus account?

  • Students who started their course in 2019/20. Different arrangements are in place. Find out more here.
  • Full time undergraduate students whose fees are lower than £9,250 and students who are sponsored (i.e. have their fees paid by an employer) are not eligible.
  • Books Plus is a scheme that we offer as part of our agreement with the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) who regulate most university undergraduate fees. You can see our Access Agreements and find out more about how fee regulation works by visiting the Office for Fair Access website.

What funds will I receive?

Eligible full time undergraduate students will receive £400 a year credit on a Books Plus card that can be used at John Smith’s online.

Part time undergraduate students will receive a yearly amount based on the intensity of their course. For example, a student studying a 50% intensity course will receive £200 a year and a student studying a 75% intensity course will receive £300 a year.

Postgraduate students will receive £400 spread over the duration of their course (this amount will be pro-rata if on a course lower than a masters degree).

You’ll only receive Books Plus in years of study where you pay the full rate of tuition fees so you won’t receive it during a placement year, repeat study or if you have a break from studies.

Most undergraduate students study on three year courses but a few study on two year courses or four year courses. If you’re eligible for Books Plus and on one of these courses, you’ll receive Books Plus for two or four years respectively.

What can I spend the money on?

You can spend your Books Plus money on:

  • books (hard copy and digital)
  • stationery
  • art supplies
  • laptops and tablets
  • tech products like earphones and accessories
  • bikes
  • specialist equipment for your course, like sewing machines or hi-vis vests
  • lots of other learning materials that are available in the shop and online
  • through John Smith’s we offer a scheme to help you buy smart interview clothes through high street retailers.

Plus up to £100 of the award can also be spent on Team ARU memberships and up to £100 at the ARU Students’ Union to:

  • join clubs and societies
  • buy an NUS Extra card – this gives you discounts at hundreds of outlets
  • buy “Give it a go” tickets
  • buy tickets for the Summer Ball and SU Awards events
  • buy ARU clothing.

Cambridge School of Art Students

Our students in the Cambridge School of Art need to produce a lot of their assessments in hard copy because of the nature of their discipline. As a consequence their printing costs are higher than other students and so as part of Books Plus Cambridge School of Art students can use some of their funds for assessment related printing via ARU’s Digital Copy Services.

If you are a Cambridge School of Art student with fully funded Books Plus you can spend all of your £400 at John Smiths online, or up to £100 on assessment related printing via Digital Copy Services, and/or up to £100 via the Students' Union, and/or up to £100 via Team ARU. So, for example, you could spend £90 via ARU's Digital Copy Services, £60 via the Students' Union and the remaining £250 on artists materials etc. at John Smith’s online. At the end of each year, unspent funds roll forward, but unspent balances have to then be used at John Smith’s.

What do I receive if I started before 2016/17

Students who originally started their course before 2016/17 may still be eligible, please contact us for information.

How can I find out more?

You can visit the John Smith's website or email us at to get more information on Books Plus.