Sorting out somewhere to live
It’s so important for your son or daughter to have a place they can call home which doesn’t burn a hole in their bank balance. Here we give you the lowdown on what is usually available along with tips on what to look out for.
What student accommodation choices are there?
The most common options are:
Halls are usually furnished bedrooms with shared common areas, bathroom and kitchen facilities, in small hubs for 5-8 students. Increasingly, rooms are now being offered with en-suite bathrooms. Some rooms come with more space or additional facilities but they will, of course, cost more. Halls are usually managed by the university or in partnership with a private company. The rent may cover such extras as bills, Wi-Fi and insurance. Because halls may house a lot of students, it makes them very sociable and a good way into uni life.
At the University of Bedfordshire, we recommend our halls of residence for all first-year students as they offer a secure environment where young adults, who may not have lived independently before, can settle into campus life, get involved in activities easily and make friends immediately.
Accommodation rented from a private landlord is sometimes an option for students once they have completed their first year of study. It’s important to be aware that, although private accommodation may initially seem cheaper than halls, the rent is unlikely to cover any extras, such as Wi-Fi and bills, and probably won’t offer the same level of security.
If you are looking for private accommodation, ask your university for a list of recommended landlords. Beds helps students find their private rental through an agency called Student Pad.
Increasingly students are choosing to live with their parents in order to save money on rent and other bills. However, it is worth bearing in mind that, if your child lives at home, they may be missing out on some elements of the traditional student experience, such as moving away from home, living with their peers and gaining independent life skills. It’s also important that the university is within reasonable commuting distance from home as the cost of public transport may wipe out any savings you make.
Your child can apply once they have received a place and course offer from their first-choice university. They will usually be asked to sign a contract. If your child ends up not attending the university, you will need to cancel the contract and may be asked to provide evidence you’ve not been given a course place there.
In these times, it’s also a good idea to check what happens if you are told to study at home for a period of time.
Your university will send you information on your child’s accommodation choices, along with booking details, or you will find the information on its website.
Accommodation for students with disabilities or medical conditions will always be provided but it’s a good idea to contact the university or provider directly to talk through your child’s needs, in the first instance. Then include relevant information on your application form as well.
Accommodation is usually allocated on a first come, first served basis so the later your child leaves it, the more likely it is they won’t get the accommodation they’d most like. Don’t panic, though, if your child is applying for accommodation during Clearing: most universities hold back places for Clearing applicants.
If your child is starting uni with friends and they would like to be allocated a flat together, they all need to apply early and make it clear on all their applications that they wish to share together.
What is it like to live in student accommodation?
At Beds, we’re proud of our bright, modern accommodation situated very close to our campuses. Our Luton accommodation, for instance, is right opposite the university buildings, in the town centre, a 10-minute walk from the train and bus stations, and just 30 minutes from London.
It also offers good value for money: it’s ranked in the top 20 for cost effectiveness in a recent league focusing on UK city universities.
Things to home in on:
- If the accommodation is quite old, when was it last refurbished?
- What extras are included in the rent price?
- What security and safety measures are in place?
- What furniture is provided in the room?
- How much storage space is there in the room?
- How good is the Wi-Fi signal?
- What do the shared facilities comprise?
- How many students are shared facilities serving?
- Is there a laundry?
- What activities are on offer on site?
- How close is it to the campus?
- If it’s some distance, are transport links good?
- How much will it cost to get back and forth each day?
- What’s the general location like?
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