There are three possibilities of accommodation available: living at home, halls of residence and private accommodation. Discussing the pros and cons of each option with your son or daughter will help them to make the best choice for them.
Arrangements for booking accommodation will vary between institutions but most will begin the process in May after a student has chosen their Firm and Insurance choice. Your son or daughter should check their emails regularly for correspondence from their university and make sure they follow all of the steps to secure their accommodation. If you have any concerns regarding the process then please do not hesitate to contact the relevant university who will be happy to help.
Living at home
The volume of institutions providing Higher Education courses within the UK means that it is now easier than ever to remain living in their family home and commute each day to study. With recent changes to student finance and the cost of tuition fees this is becoming an increasingly popular choice with students as they perceive it as a cheaper option. As with all of the accommodation options available there are both positives and negatives with staying at home which should be carefully considered.
|Student will be more familiar with the area, know where local shops, transport links, restaurants etc are.||Less independence as students are not necessarily responsible for managing bills, cooking meals and carrying out household chores.|
|Will have the daily support of family members living with them which can be a real benefit during peak study times at the end of each term.||Can be a little harder to initially make friends if a student doesn’t have “instant” access to housemates – there are however lots of social events planned during Fresher’s week to help students meet people.|
|Can be a cheaper option (although there is less Maintenance Loan available to those living at home).||Socialising may be restricted by being based away from campus. If last minute plans are made or a student has to leave to catch a last bus home they may not be able to fully participate.|
Don’t forget: Although a university may seem a feasible commute by car this may not be the same when travelling on public transport. Overall universities do not allow students to bring cars onto campus and the cost of running a car can be a significant financial drain for students.
Hall of Residence
The most popular choice for first year students is to live in university halls of residence. These are essentially large blocks of flats and there are several varieties on offer to suit all requirements including:
- Catered or self-catered
- Single sex or mixed sex*
- En suite or communal bathrooms
- Self-contained flats or shared kitchen and living room facilities
*In the vast majority of cases students will be allocated their own bedroom, shared rooms will be single sex only.
Talking to your son or daughter about which is right for them and their lifestyle can help them to decide which to choose. It is important to note that if a student doesn’t get their first choice of accommodation that they should keep an open mind – the alternative may be just as well suited to them.
Halls of residence also provide a platform for students to instantly meet lots of other Freshers who are all in the same boat, moving away from home for the first time and settling into university life. The Students’ Union will coordinate numerous social events within the first couple of weeks to help settle students in and allow them to meet as many new people as possible.
|Access to lots of people very quickly which helps facilitate new friendship groups.||You can’t choose who you live with – although this could be perceived as a positive. In the event a student is really unhappy in their allocated room there may not be an opportunity to move.|
|Single termly payments and utilities included to help manage finances.||Can be the most expensive option – encourage your child to really think about whether they need an en suite, double bed or if a more modest room will suffice!|
|University accredited so problems can be easily resolved.|
|Often based on or very close to campus so students are based centrally to the university.|
|Pastoral care will be readily available to help students transition from leaving home.|
|24 hour security will be on hand in the unlikely event that there is an emergency.|
Don’t forget: on paper halls of residence may appear to be the most expensive option available, however, the weekly rent is inclusive of utility bills and sometimes also internet and contents insurance. Payments for each term will be taken just after the Maintenance Loans payments are provided, making it easier for students to manage their finances.
The final accommodation option is perhaps most popular with students entering their second, third or fourth year of university. After an initial first year living in halls of residence many will opt to move into a house and rent privately from a landlord. This is a great opportunity for students to take control over the kind of properties they would like to live in, the location and who they live with.
Most universities will be able to provide a list of approved landlords and letting agents that have a positive reputation for renting to students and these are a great place to start the housing search. Encourage your son or daughter to start thinking about their plans well in advance and to secure their accommodation for the following academic year between Christmas and Easter of the current one.
|Students can choose the type of property they want to live in and the location.||Utility bills will be managed separately from rent and students will therefore need to manage their finances carefully.|
|Students can choose who they want to live with.||Students will have to assume responsibility for negotiating contracts with landlords and utility providers.|
Don’t forget: this is often the first time a student has been responsible for running a household, help your son or daughter manage this by showing them in advance some basic tips, including: how to change a light bulb, how to read a meter, what to do when a fuse blows, how to read a clothing care label and what washing machine settings to use. Teaching them a few basic recipes will also be a great help!
In the majority of cases accommodation that is approved by the university will have a clear and transparent contract that will have the interests of the student at its core. Private accommodation might have a different contract in terms of length and what is included.
Top Tip: Keep track of paperwork and read through documentation thoroughly.
As with all rented accommodation students will be asked to pay a deposit before they move in. This is to cover the costs associated with any damage that may occur during the tenancy. Providing a student looks after the property this should be returned at the end of the lease agreement.
Top Tip: Ensure that your son or daughter receives a full inventory of the accommodation and that they agree with all the details of what is provided and any damage that is noted on there. Any discrepancies should be highlighted to the landlord/letting agent immediately.
Once your son or daughter moves into a property it is important that all of the electrical appliances are inspected and that any faults or concerns are reported to the landlord/letting agent.
Top Tip: Electrical items should be PAT tested annually (a sticker to prove this will be on each plug) and copies of boiler safety checks should be readily available.
Unfortunately there will be some occasions where a student’s property is accidentally damaged, lost or stolen and it is important that your son or daughter has adequate contents insurance. There are several student friendly deals that can be found through comparison websites and it may also be included in the weekly cost for accommodation.
Top Tip: Double check your own documentation as sometimes a student’s possessions can be covered under a parent/family policy.