Student accommodation in the UK

University owned student accommodation varies from halls of residence to flats and houses ‘off campus’. Institutions usually provide information about accommodation available to their students and will normally have an accommodation office. In most cases accommodation will be arranged for your first year of study by your institution’s accommodation office. If you have any questions about this, you should contact your university directly for information.

Nearly all universities guarantee accommodation in either halls of residence or a room in university owned properties to undergraduate students in their first academic year and this is often the preferred choice for students themselves as it helps you to settle in and meet people. University owned accommodation can either be catered or self-catering. Catered accommodation provides meals in the student refectory and the price you pay for your room may or may not include provision of meals. This type of accommodation means you don’t have the hassle of shopping and cooking for yourself but the meals you get may not always be to your liking. On the other hand, self-catering may be more economical and you will have the ability to choose for yourself what you eat, although this may not always be the healthiest option!
University owned accommodation typically consists of study bedrooms often with communal kitchen/dining areas and en-suite or shared bathroom facilities. Furnishing and basic bed linen are usually supplied although if the accommodation is off campus bed linen may not be supplied. Self-catering accommodation will provide fully equipped kitchen areas. Many campuses also include launderettes, banking facilities and convenience stores as well as pay phones, bars and recreational facilities.
Many universities reserve their self-contained properties for mature and/or foreign students. Typically these are flats or houses which are shared with other similar students. They can be a cheap option and are often in good locations. Also you do not have to worry about finding others to fill the flat as the institution will do this for you. This option is also the best choice if you are intending to study for only a short period of time, i.e. less than six months. For more information regarding this you should contact the accommodation office of your chosen university.

If you prefer to live in private accommodation (known as ‘off campus’) there are at least three options to consider. Sharing a private flat or house with a group of friends that you have made in your first year of study; responding to an advertisement to share with other students who you do not know; and living with a family who rent out rooms to students.
Sharing a rented property with friends is the most common option for non-first year students who have become friends with others whilst living in student halls during their first year. Obviously once you take on the responsibility of renting in the private sector it means that you are also responsible for bills and entering into a legal contract with the landlord. Normally leases are available for one year at a time. This type of accommodation can be found through letting agents; the accommodation office at your university; college notice boards; local newspapers and online property listings.
Renting a room in a family home is a good alternative for those who either are too late in applying for accommodation in halls of residence or who do not wish to stay in halls. The advantage of living with a family is that invariably home-cooked meals are included and the accommodation is comfortable and clean. The main disadvantage is usually, as your social life expands, the family you are staying with may not appreciate you returning home in the early hours of the morning and there may be restrictions on guests visiting you in your room. For more information about this type of accommodation your best starting point is, again, your accommodation office at your intended university.