Once your son or daughter has decided where they are going to university, they will need to think about where they want to live.
Most students chose to live in halls of residence in their first year. Many universities have their own halls, or they will have a partnership with a private halls provider. Once they have accepted a university as their first choice, students are sent information about the accommodation available, including application deadlines.
In their second and third years, students may chose to remain in university halls, move to a shared flat or house, or move to private halls. By this stage they will be able to benefit from the university’s own accommodation office and student support network. For this reason, this section focuses on explaining the options available for first year students going into halls.
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In both private and university-run halls there are a wide range of options to suit all budgets, some of the different possible variables are outlined below:
Self-Catered Vs Catered
All accommodation at university will be either catered or self-catered. Some universities and most private hall providers do not give the option of catered accommodation but many do. Halls that are catered will most probably provide inhabitants with breakfast and dinner during the week and all three meals at the weekend.
In catered halls, many people say that the atmosphere is better as students get to know each other more quickly during meal times. Having food made for them can also save them time and money.
However, in self-catered accommodation, students have more flexibility and can eat when they want. Because of this, it can work out cheaper as they do not waste money on meals that they might miss.
Shared Rooms Vs Single Rooms
It is not as common as it once was for university students to share rooms. However, many universities still have one or two halls where shared rooms are available.
Students may opt for a shared room because generally they are far cheaper than the alternative. Furthermore, they can allow those that are more shy the opportunity of making a really close friend in their first year.
The downsides are, however, that you don’t have your own space to escape to when uni gets too much and you are not guaranteed to get along with your roommate.
En-suite Vs Shared Bathroom
Most universities have a choice between en suite rooms and those that share bathrooms. En suite rooms tend to cost around 10-20% than the alternative but the benefit is that you get your own space and don’t have to queue for showers.
It should be noted, however, that it is very unlikely that students will share a bathroom with those of the opposite sex. Furthermore, often, shared bathrooms will be cleaned once or twice a week as part of the contract, but en suite bathrooms will not.
Flat Vs Corridor
Most university accommodation is structured in one of two ways. Halls are often split into a number of self contained flats, with 6-10 rooms per flat, organised around a shared kitchen, living area and perhaps bathroom. This format is most commonly used or self-catered accommodation and allows students to form a close bond with their fellow flatmates. The downside to this is that, if you do not get along with your flatmates, it can be much harder to meet other people.
Some halls are arranged, instead, in long corridors of 10 or 20 rooms, which share a much larger kitchen or kitchenette and perhaps bathroom. This format is often used for catered halls and allows students to meet lots of different people as bedrooms are not shut off from each other. The downside here is that these halls tend to be louder and it can be hard for students to make such lasting bonds with their fellow residents.
Once your son or daughter has chosen their accommodation, they will have to apply for it before the university's deadline. Once that is done, it's time to start getting ready and packing. Don't know what they will need? Check out our article on packing for University.