Student-voice blog: How Does University Accommodation Work For University Students?

If you decided to go to a university that is far away from your home or far enough away that it makes more sense to pay for university accommodation, there are always questions about how it works. So, first things first. This whole process may well vary from country to country and even from university to university. As a result, what I say here is by no means a substitute for researching the official process at your selected university. Instead, this is a reflection on my personal experience with student accommodation – a reflection that I hope can share some useful insights for anyone nervous or simply intrigued about what to expect.

How Does University Accommodation Work?

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to be talking about on-campus accommodation or accommodation that is associated with the university, or dorm rooms for Americans. So, after confirming your place at university, you will be offered a chance to apply for university accommodation where you have to pick what accommodation you want. At most universities there is a wide range fitting an equally wide range of budgets and desires to choose from.

For example, at my university, you have the low budget shared bathroom, less good looking flat options up to the ensuite and shared kitchen options for some very nice flats.

So when it comes to you choosing what you want to apply for, it’s important to ask yourself:

  • What can you afford?
  • What do you want?
  • Can you see yourself enjoy being there for the year?

The reason why I mentioned the what do you want point is because I wasn’t going to live somewhere with a shared bathroom with strangers for a year. For me personally, this just wasn’t something I was prepared to do. So it is good to draw some boundaries with yourself.

Anyway, you’ll apply for your accommodation through the university’s website and I won’t go too much into that because it’s different for each university. In addition, I will say that a lot of university accommodation is reserved for first year students with a small selection being open to applications from later year students. Which I say I unofficially recommend if you can, do stay on campus or in university accommodation in your first year. Mainly for the sake of just experiencing what it’s like. It is also far easier to make friends and really encourages you to throw yourself into the lifestyle. Sure, I didn’t like some of it, but I know for lots and lots of students, they benefit greatly from being away from home. Yet everyone is different in different situations and circumstances so that is just food for thought.

After you’ve sent off your application, it will be accepted or rejected.

If it’s rejected I think you might be offered a second choice if you picked one. Or you’ll have to make other arrangements.

If it’s accepted then you effectively sign the lease and set up the payment schedule. From what I remember, you pay the accommodation fees in rough thirds at the beginning of each term – but please pay attention to your specific university’s arrangements.

Other Tips:

Firstly, it is of course super important to keep in mind what you can and can’t afford. This will very likely be your first year living independently and in control of your finances. You do not need any extra stress or concern on your shoulders, so do not get a place you can’t afford. Otherwise you will be panicking and constantly worrying about how you’re going to pay for the accommodation.

Secondly, from what I remember all my university accommodation options included utilities so if you can find that I would suggest you take that option. Since it meant I didn’t have to pay for tons of extras.

Finally, university accommodation is definitely an experience, and if you’ve listened to my podcast or read any of my other posts, then you know I am not a partying or clubbing person. But I still really enjoyed the accommodation experience because you get to meet some amazing people, learn great things about yourself and others and… for me living at university is all a part of the experience.

So if you can, you might want to check it out.

If for no other reason than you can say you’ve done it, and you won’t forever be wondering if you’ve missed out on something in later life.

Connor Whiteley