Where you live at university will play a big role in how you experience your time there.
Your accommodation can influence who you meet and how you integrate into student life. For instance, you might want catered accommodation or self-catered: these are things to think about when applying to university.
Things to think about include:
- How far student accommodation is from campus
- How you feel about living with other people
- What you need to study
- Whether you are likely to find the time to cook for yourself
- Whether there’s parking or public transport close by
Types of university accommodation
Different universities have different approaches to student accommodation. Some of that will be dependent on the geography of the university – whether it’s in a big city or a small town. To some extent, what’s available will also depend on the heritage of the university – if it’s a historic uni with a collegiate system (based around colleges), or a more modern university, for example.
University halls of residence
Typically, students will have the chance to stay in halls of residence in their first year. They are usually located on-campus (or at least tend to be grouped together), and you have a room within a larger building that also has student lounges.
Often there’s the option to choose between catered (your meals are provided) or non-catered halls, but either way there will often be a small kitchen area for making tea and coffee or toast.
For many students, staying in halls of residence in the first year is like a rite of passage. It’s a chance to be around lots of other students, most of whom won’t be on your course, so you get to meet people from different faculties, backgrounds, and places around the world.
At Oxbridge, all first year undergraduate students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation. Some even offer it for the entire duration of your degree.
These are like university halls of residence in style, and they are purpose-built student living accommodation, but they’re owned and managed by private companies. These tend to be in larger cities, and are invariably more modern, complete with all the mod cons. As a result, they do tend to be a very expensive option.
Private rented houses and rooms
Many students move into private rented houses for their second and third years. Most choose to share with friends that they have met in their first year, or to seek out other students who also want a flatmate. It can be a wonderful way to bond with peers, become more independent and have a life slightly separate from campus, and it gives you a bit more privacy than halls.
When you’re looking for somewhere to rent, make sure that you keep all the same things in mind: distance from campus, from the shops, parking if you have a car, keep an eye on the rent and decide how you’re going to split bills.
University managed houses
Some universities own houses and properties in the town or city that students can apply to stay in via university accommodation offices. You will usually apply for a room in these houses and will not get a choice over who you live with. However, that can be an excellent opportunity to meet new people!
If you would like to speak to a mentor for more advice on which university would suit you, you can read more about our university mentoring programme.