Why is University Accommodation So Expensive?

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One of the main things students think about when applying to university is their accommodation. If you have decided to move away from home for university, sorting accommodation should be on the top of your to-do list!  Accommodation can vary in price depending on your chosen university. Most universities will have their own accommodation options for students, but some do not. This means students will need to find their own rented accommodation before their course begins. This can be overwhelming to think about. However, there is lots of information available to help students find affordable and accessible accommodation. But why is university accommodation so expensive?

There are many factors that influence university accommodation cost. The location of your university will have the biggest influence on cost. If it is in a city centre, such as London, prices will be far higher. The standard of room will also have an effect on the cost of accommodation. Most university managed accommodations tend to drive up prices because they need to cover the cost of all the main utility bills. The demand for university accommodation is very high, which also causes the prices to rise.

To find out more about different university accommodations and what factors can cause them to be more expensive, continue to read the rest of this article.

How much is university accommodation?

In short, university accommodation is expensive. Universities that offer accommodation on campus in the halls of residence usually give students three or four different room options. These will vary in price to ensure students are able to afford and budget for their accommodation.

Likewise, the price of university accommodation can vary depending on whether you are in or out of London. According to this source from the Complete University Guide, the average weekly rent in 2021 for university accommodation outside London was £166.Alternatively, for private accommodation the average weekly rent was between £155 and £228. The variation in price depends on the room type.

In comparison, the average weekly rent for university accommodation in London in 2021 was £212 and for private accommodation £259.

For an outline of the total cost of university in the UK, check out this helpful article from Think Student.

Why does university accommodation cost so much?

University managed accommodation usually includes your main utility bills, with some also covering Wi-Fi bills and a TV licence (sometimes just in communal areas). Some privately rented accommodations cover these utility bills, but most will not. This means you will need to pay these bills separately, which can generally be more expensive.

Likewise, for both university managed and private accommodation, you usually need to put down a deposit. According to this source  from the Complete University Guide, deposits for university managed accommodation are around £200, whilst for private accommodation they are around £300.

A deposit is something you may need to budget for, as it will likely vary depending on the location of the accommodation and room type. There is also no guarantee you will get this money back, as any damage at the end of your tenancy agreement will result in the cost for repairs coming from your deposit.

Most accommodations offer different standards of rooms but particularly halls of residence. This way, universities can cater for all students’ budgets. Generally, the cheapest accommodations will be standard rooms, with ensuite rooms as the most expensive.

Similarly, location can significantly impact on the cost of accommodation. Generally, they are more expensive in London. University is definitely an expensive route to go down. Check out this article from Think Student to discover the other reasons why university is so expensive.

Can you get a student loan for university accommodation?

The simple answer is yes. You can get a student loan through Student Finance. Student Finance is a government scheme which allows prospective students to apply for a loan to cover their educational fees. To be eligible, you need to be over 18 and accepted onto a full time or part time university course.

Through Student Finance, you may be eligible for two separate loans. The first is a tuition fee loan. This is paid directly to the university and covers the full cost of your course. If you are going to live away from home whilst at university and need accommodation, you will also apply for a maintenance loan. If you decide to live at home and commute to university, you will not be eligible for this.

The purpose of the maintenance loan is to cover the cost of your accommodation whilst supporting you financially to purchase resources to help with your studies. The amount you receive will depend on your parents income and will be paid in 3 separate payments throughout the year.

The amount of maintenance loan you receive will also depend on your location. For example, if you move to a university in London, your maintenance loan will be higher to counteract the higher costs for accommodation.

For more information about what Student Finance is, check out this full guide, from the Save the Student website. Likewise, to find out when you can apply, check out this helpful article from Think Student.

How do you find university accommodation?

If you are ready to begin looking for university accommodation, you first need to work out what type of university you are going to.

If your university is a campus, you will have the option to apply for a room in the halls of residence. The university will send you all the relevant information and you will apply directly through the university. Most universities will have an accommodation team. You can contact them through email or phone to ask any questions about applying for your accommodation. Check out this Think Student article to learn more about campus universities.

For non-campus universities, there are not usually any halls of residence. Instead, you need to find your own accommodation near to the university. The university may offer some guidance about this, so it may be useful to contact them if you have any questions. I suggest you read this Think Student article to learn more about your different university accommodation options.

If your university is not a campus or you decide you do not want to be in halls of residence, you can search on websites such as Rightmove to find other student or private accommodations to rent. Often a group of second- and third-year students will decide to rent a house together and will similarly use Rightmove and other websites to find accommodation.

Some universities also have private social media accounts on Facebook, which as a student you can join. These groups will enable you to find information about different accommodations available to rent. It also offers a platform for you to meet other students who are looking for housemates.

What types of university accommodation are there?

There are a few different options for students to consider when looking for university accommodation. These all are slightly different and have a varying price range. It is important to understand the options before deciding on your accommodation. Below is a brief look at the choices you may have. To get a more in-depth look at each type of accommodation, click on the links throughout the article.

Halls of residence

The halls of residence are located on a universities campus. They are mainly reserved for first year students. However, some universities allow students in their second and third years to stay there. They usually offer different standards of room which vary in price, whilst including all utility bills, wi-fi and a tv licence.

University managed accommodation

These are flats or houses still managed by the university but not located on a campus. Again, these often cover all utility bills and wi-fi.

Private Halls

These are similar to halls of residence but are not located on a campus. They are usually owned by private companies and students of all ages and academic levels can stay there. They are usually the most expensive type of student accommodation.

Private houses and rooms

These are located near to the university and are managed by independent landlords. They are most popular with students in their second or third year who choose to rent a house as a group, but usually students need to pay their utility bills separately. Universities may offer support and additional information, with some holding ‘housing fairs’. You will then have the opportunity to meet landlords and find out more about renting.

When choosing accommodation, you should consider your budget. Some private halls may have a set tenancy agreement of 12 months. Therefore, you should ensure your maintenance loan will cover the full 12 months of rent.

It is also important to remember that each university will offer different accommodations depending on whether they are a campus university or not.

For more information about Student Housing and who can live there, check out this helpful article from Think Student.

What are the benefits of university accommodation?

Although some students will prefer to rent a flat or a house separate from the university, there are some benefits to staying in the halls of residence.

  • All of your bills are included – in a universities halls of residence, all of your main utility bills will be covered and part of your rent.
  • On a campus – being on campus in halls of residence means you are among many other students as well as close to your classes, so you will not have additional travel expenses. You will also have 24/7 security on site and access to the security team. Likewise, you will have access to a maintenance team who will assist you with any problems in your accommodation.
  • Meeting new people – being on campus will allow you to meet and connect with many people. Some universities allocate students on different courses within a flat on campus, giving you the opportunity to widen your social circle.

Generally, students will opt to stay in halls of residence in their first year of university and then move into private housing in their later years.

What are the limitations of university accommodation?

As well as having its advantages, halls of residence do have some limitations.

  • Not getting on with people – You may find you do not get on with your flat mates which can be a problem, especially when sharing a living space. If you do not make friends in your accommodation, you may feel more isolated and homesick.
  • Distracting – Halls of residence can be very noisy with many students struggling to concentrate. Likewise, if your flatmates decide to have a party or get back from a night out at three in the morning, it may also affect your sleep.
  • Cost – Although your utility bills are included, there is no denying that halls of residence are still expensive. On top of this you need to pay for your laundry and food which it is important you budget for.

For more support with budgeting whilst at university, check out this article from Think Student.

Choosing your accommodation should be an exciting part of your university experience. It is something that most students do throughout their time at university. Student usually change their accommodation at the end of each academic year.

There are many ways you can get support financially, with Student Finance being the main one. You may have the option to live at home and commute if your university is close. If you need further help, your chosen university will be able to provide you with additional information about choosing your accommodation and budgeting.

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