An Introduction to university accommodation
There are a number of things to consider when looking at university accommodation and where a student will live - but ultimately it must be a decision that’s right for each individual student.
Living at home can be a cheaper option and convenient for those students already living locally to their university. But accommodation provided whilst at university, whether private or university managed, will encourage independence and will allow them to meet lots of new people. It’s also important to remember that whatever decision they make doesn’t have to be fixed for the entirety of their university experience.
An overview of each option is provided below.
Most first year students are allocated a place in university-managed accommodation halls and it is a great way to get to know people that they may not meet in their lectures and seminars. They are usually also conveniently located, which takes away that worry about commuting for lectures in the morning! Some consider this to be a halfway option as you can choose to have catering provided but still allows for lots of independence.
Usually, universities will ask applicants to rank their choices in order of preference and they will be allocated and assigned around results day. This means of course that they will not always be allocated their first choice and it is not always possible to choose your housemates in advance.
This set up is very similar to university halls and students will be allocated their own room, perhaps an en-suite depending on the options available and share a communal area. Often, students from universities across the city can choose to live in private accommodation and therefore it’s a great way to expand their social circle.
Prices for private accommodation will vary and some may be more expensive due to extras such as a gym or additional facilities. Whilst at first it can sound like a great deal, for some it may be unnecessary extra costs, it is a good idea to remind students to consider their budgets. There are of course the same pitfalls as university managed halls, it’s unusual that they can choose who to live with in advance.
One of the main benefits of living at home, aside from the cost, is that there is no need to relocate, to apply for accommodation which eliminates some of those pre-entry worries. There’s also that age old cliché…someone at home to cook and still take care of the laundry perhaps?
It goes without saying that students can be in the heart of the hustle and bustle of university life when living on campus whereas living under someone else’s roof often means someone else’s rules.
What should they research?
Each individual student may have an idea of requirements that their accommodation must have for example same sex or alcohol-free accommodation, but for those at a loss of where to begin to narrow down their options here are some key points to consider.
How secure is the accommodation? Most accommodation will offer onsite security managed by dedicated staff, often they may include current students who receive extensive training and work collaboratively with the wider support teams. Over the first few months there are usually great events and activities to help students to transition into their new living situations.
Most contracts will be 40 weeks but if their course is longer it is worth double checking if there is availability for them to extend the contract. Likewise, it is useful to understand if they have to move out at the end of each term or is the room available over the Christmas break should they wish to stay for a part time job.
Unipol’s National Codes will provide all the necessary information about the codes of standards for each accommodation option. This website is useful way beyond their first year and is a great tool to revisit when looking into private housing in their 2nd and 3rd years.
Some students are keen to bring their own car with them but it’s a good idea to research the transport options in advance as most universities can guarantee free or discounted travel for students, especially if they’re living in halls of residence.
The Student Room is a great tool for students to connect with others in the same boat as them, whether it’s to meet students who may potentially live in the building or hear from current students who can share their experience from the university. To avoid being swayed by beautiful but expensive options to then feel disappointed, the Brightside Student Calculator is a great tool to help guesstimate finances before making those final choices.
To conclude, here are some key pieces of advice to share with those students who may need just a few more words of encouragement:
- Take a door stop and try not to stay in your room when you first move in
- Get involved – even if you live at home!
- Read the small print – what’s included, contract lengths etc?
- Don’t be afraid to contact university staff if you have any questions
- Consider your own needs and wishes