For most new undergraduate students in the UK university will be their first time living independently, away from home and family. It is important to consider what accommodation is available and to check websites for application details and deadlines.
Most first year students opt to stay in “halls of residence” – accommodation owned and run by the university where they are part of a community and easily able to get to know other ‘freshers’. Everything in halls is sorted upfront: the rent usually includes bills and some cleaning services and is paid for at the beginning of each term. Other advantages include pastoral care services, disability support and maintenance services being on hand.
The majority of UK universities guarantee accommodation for first year students (although it is worth checking the small print to see whether this guarantee only applies to those who have accepted the university as their firm, or first choice). For ‘campus’ universities, such as the Universities of Warwick and Exeter, halls of residence are likely to be on the same site as the teaching and research and leisure facilities. For ‘city’ universities, students may have to travel to lectures from their accommodation (LSE students have an average travel time of 20 minutes from their student halls). Collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, York and Lancaster offer accommodation within their colleges, with Oxford and Cambridge offering this for the whole of the undergraduate degree period.
Within ‘halls of residence’ there will be a range of choices available in terms of location, facilities and cost – although there is no guarantee that everyone will get exactly what they want. Facilities will vary, from a single study bedroom in a flat with a shared kitchen and bathroom, to en-suite accommodation with all meals provided. Other choices could be between single gender or mixed gender facilities, single or twin rooms and contracts that are term time only or throughout the whole year. All of these come with cost implications with rents varying from £3,000 to £7,000 a year. Applications for accommodation are made online and it is very important to check individual university websites as different institutions have different application dates and procedures.
After the first year, most students choose to move out of university accommodation into private rental accommodation (often sharing with a group of friends), or private, purpose-built student halls. Whichever choice you make your university housing office should have lists of approved landlords and student-friendly lettings agents and be able to provide advice on tenancy agreements.