Accommodation is one of the main things to think about when applying to university. If you have selected your five universities and completed your applications on UCAS, your next step should be looking at accommodation. It is important to consider the cost of each type of accommodation and the maintenance loan you will be able to get to cover it. Likewise, you should familiarise yourself with the opening and closing dates for accommodation applications. Remember, you can contact your university for support if you are struggling or have any queries.
Applications for university accommodation generally open early in the new year. They are submitted online and students are given a choice of campus (if there is more than one) as well as the standard of room. You may need to pay a deposit and enter your bank details ready to pay your rent. It’s important to apply as soon as possible because getting a space in university accommodation is not guaranteed.
For a more in depth look at university accommodations and how to apply, I recommend you read through the rest of this article.
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What is university accommodation?
University accommodation is offered to students who are studying at the university. At most universities, halls of residence are prioritised for first year students. Your accommodation rent will be covered by your maintenance loan and is paid throughout the year.
Accommodation tends to be a student flat at university. Students will have their own room within a shared flat including a shared kitchen and sometimes a shared bathroom. The room itself will come lightly furnished with a bed, wardrobes, cupboard space, curtains and a mirror.
Different standards of rooms will be available to meet student’s varying budgets. Often these range from a traditional or standard room to an ensuite room. Other student accommodations may include self-contained flats or a shared house through private landlords. These tend to be more popular with second- and third-year students.
For more information check out this helpful article about why university accommodation is so expensive.
How many different types of university accommodation are there?
At university, there is not just one single type of accommodation. Where students live can be categorised into four main sections, each with different features, advantages and disadvantages.
Halls of residence are the most well-known type of university accommodation. The halls of residence are located on the university’s campus. They are a popular choice for new first year students.
The position of the halls is ideal as they are usually right next to the buildings that classes are taken in. They are also near student support services. Utility bills are covered within the rent, alongside Wi-Fi and a communal TV licence.
University-managed accommodation is a flat or house located off the university’s campus, but which is still managed by the university. Usually, the utility bills are included in the rent, the same as the Wi-Fi and TV licence. Check out this interesting article, discussing whether you need to get a TV licenses for your university accommodation.
Private halls are very similar to halls of residence but are located off the university’s campus. Instead of being managed by the university, they are managed by independent landlords. Students of all ages can stay in these halls. However, they are usually the most expensive type of student accommodation.
Similarly to private halls, private houses are not managed by the university, but by independent landlords. Many private houses are located near to the university. They are very popular with second or third year students who choose to rent a house with a group of friends.
Some universities have social media groups where you can join as a student to meet potential house mates or find houses to rent. For more information about finding accommodation after receiving your offers, click here.
How to apply for student accommodation?
It is important when you are searching for accommodation that you budget. You should consider the cost of the deposit, which can be as much as £450. Also factoring in how much maintenance loan you are entitled to and what you have saved on the side is important.
You should also keep in mind the length of your contract for each accommodation. Some have a 12-month contract, meaning you have to pay for a full year. This will not be refunded, even if you only end up using your accommodation during the 8 months of term time. Make sure you can budget for that!
Often, for accommodation rented through independent landlords, you are expected to pay you utility bills separately. This may cause your rent to work out more expensive.
When looking for accommodation off-campus, websites such as Rightmove can be useful. They have a student search, which you can access here. You can select an area near to your university and filter your search for one-bedroom flats or houses to share within your budget.
By using websites like Rightmove, you will likely be able to view your accommodation before signing a contract. You can also apply for your accommodation directly through them. When you decide on your residence, you will then need to fill in the paperwork, read through the terms and conditions and sign the contract.
How do you apply for “halls of residence” accommodation?
When applying for a room in the halls of residence, you should send in the forms as soon as possible. Room allocation at some universities is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Each university will open their applications at slightly different times and have different deadlines. You should check these dates before sending in your university applications. To view the different accommodations available, check on your university’s website.
The university should also have a prospectus which you can browse through. Alternatively, to look for the accommodation available at your university, you can use this search tool from UCAS.
Applications for accommodation are usually completed online. You will be sent individual log in details and can then begin filling in the form. You will need to select which campus you would like to stay on (if there is more than one), as well as which standard of room you would like.
Generally, universities will randomly allocate students into flats. However, you can request to be with people you know if you wish. You may then be asked to pay a deposit and add a bank account for your rent to paid out of.
Once you submit your application, you will need to wait for an email which will confirm the details of your room and flat. This can take several weeks, so do not panic if you don’t hear back straight away.
Top tips for finding the perfect university accommodation
One of the biggest tips for students is to start looking for accommodation early. Even if you have not had your place at university confirmed, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the available accommodation. This way, you’ll be fully prepared when the time comes to apply.
Another tip is to visit a university open day. Often during an open day, there is an opportunity for new students to have a tour of the accommodations available. This will help you to see the different types of rooms available and the layout of the campus. Likewise, you will be able to ask university staff and helpers any questions.
You could also consider asking older students their opinions of the accommodations on offer. This may be on social media or in-person at an open day. Older students may share their experiences of living on campus or recommend the best accommodation options to you.
Finally, make sure you budget. When familiarising yourself with the university accommodation, make sure to find out the prices of each room. Use this information to work out which rooms are within your budget, and which are not. You do not want to apply for accommodation you cannot afford.
What happens if you miss the deadline for accommodation applications?
What many students may not realise is there is actually a deadline by which you need to have applied for your accommodation. Some students may miss the deadline because they did not realise there was one.
The other problem is that some students may have changed universities or gone through clearing. For more information about how these two principles work, click here. However, there are some steps that can be taken if you find yourself in this position.
Firstly, you should talk to your university. Some universities may still be able to allocate you a room in the halls of residence. However, some universities do not guarantee all first-year students a room, which is something to keep in mind.
Therefore, you may need to find alternative off-campus accommodation. The university’s accommodation team should be able to help you with this. As a last resort, you may have to consider commuting to university and living at home for your first year.
If none of these options appeal to you, you can choose to defer for a year and come back to start your studies after re-applying for accommodation. For more information on what you should do if you do not get a place in student halls, check out this useful article.