University Tips Blog
Image of items on a students desk in university accommodation
A headshot image of the author, Emma Churchill

by Emma Churchill

School and College Engagement Officer at the University of Exeter

posted on 24 Feb '23

A parent guide to university accommodation

For many young people, choosing to go to university will result in them living away from home for the first time. This is an exciting but also a daunting time – for the student as well as you as their parent or guardian, particularly as you start to navigate the various accommodation options available. Setting aside time to do research early on will help your young person feel more confident, which will make the transition much easier.

To get started, we recommend searching university websites to find their dedicated accommodation webpages. Here, you will find information about the accommodation on offer, as well as the support provided. You will find that accommodation comes in many forms, some of which will suit your young person more than others. Some options include the following:

University owned or managed accommodation

This is a popular choice for first year undergraduate students. Often located close to the university itself and tends to be set up specifically for students at that institution. There is normally a wide range of options available to suit all needs and budgets. Typically, applications are made directly to the institution

Private halls

This is like university managed accommodation but managed by private providers. They are designed specifically for students. Students could be living in flats with students from different institutions if this is a location where there are multiple higher education providers. Typically, applications are made directly to the provider.

Private student housing

This is a popular option for students after their first year. This option provides the opportunity to live with friends and experience the next step to independence.

Image of students relaxing in new university accommodation

Living at home

Going to university does not necessarily mean that your young person must leave home, particularly if you live within a commutable distance from their chosen university.

Research time

After researching what’s available, ask your young person to reflect on the following questions to help them find their perfect home away from home:

  • What’s important to them? Consider cooking, distance from university/ town, size of room, the facilities (e.g., ensuite room, kitchen etc.) and how many people they are happy to share these with.
  • How much can they afford to spend?
  • Is the accommodation accredited by a regulator?
  • How many weeks do they need a contract? Some universities offer year-long or academic year contracts. You may also see term time only contracts where students are required to move their belongings out over Christmas and Easter vacations.
  • What do students have to say about it? If a university has a platform like UniBuddy, make use of this to ask questions directly to current students.

Finally, try to visit the accommodation in person or attend virtual events. This offers the chance to ask any questions, however small, to help you both feel confident about accommodation decisions. And remember, it won’t be long before they are back home again asking for their favourite home cooked meal!

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