Information you need to know when making a decision about your UK accommodation
One of the most important decisions you will make regarding your time in the UK is where to live. Where you live is not only a place to sleep, store your belongings and study, but also acts as your home away from home and it is therefore very important that you choose you accommodation carefully. Remember that you may be living in that location for up to several years and so you want to make sure it is a place you can be happy with. Choosing the right accommodation in the UK is one of the many services your UKEAS counsellor can help to advise you on.
Private Residential Accommodation
More and more students are opting for private, purpose built residences in main urban areas that are setup by private companies. These types of accommodation are often very modern with good services and convenient to get to the university to attend lectures.
UNITE PLC is the largest provider of UK student accommodation. To find out more about UNITE and the accommodation that they offer, please click here.
University Residential Accommodation
Most UK universities offer student accommodation and these can vary quite a lot depending on how old they are. Some residences are very new and modern, whereas others that were built some time ago can be old and well used. The university will quite often separate undergraduate students and postgraduate students so that they are living in different residences. Sometimes however, students may have to share. Men and women usually live in the same residence as well, although sometimes there are female only residences.
As soon as you have made your final decision on where to study, you should start making decisions on accommodation as soon as possible. This is because many universities cannot guarantee on campus accommodation. Those that are able to, will only guarantee the accommodation if you have already applied before the deadline. Applying for student accommodation can be quite confusing due to the many choices available, but this is something that your UKEAS counsellor will be able to assist you with, providing information to help you make your decision. University websites contain a lot of useful information for you to research and find the kind of accommodation you like as well. Note however, that very few universities have houses and flats for families or married couples and these are usually quite difficult to obtain on campus.
What does university accommodation consist of?
A university residence will normally consist of a study bedroom that will include a single or double bed, a wardrobe, sundry storage space and a desk with a light. If you have an en-suite room then it may have it's own bathroom and shower, or could have a bathroom that is shared with other students living on the same floor or in the same flat. It is common to provide the bedding and other necessities yourself, although some residences do offer such packages for purchase.
University residences offer communal areas, such as a kitchen or dining area, where you can socialize with other flatmates. Kitchens will all have major household appliances like an oven, fridge and kettle, etc. Undergraduate students will often eat at the accommodation's canteen where meals are pre-prepared and included in the cost of the rent of the room.
For undergraduate students, living in a residence is the best way to mix with other people and make new friends. This can make life settling into a new environment much easier. For postgraduate or more mature students, living in a residence can be very convenient, but you will need to consider factors like privacy and noise. This is something that your UKEAS counsellors will be able to advise you on.
Language School Residences
UK language school residence accommodation is very similar to that offered by universities and these tend to offer you more independence than that of a homestay. They may or may not include catered meal options. Most of these types of accommodation will offer a single bedroom, although sharing is also possible.
High School Residences
Residences at public schools where a student is boarding will often be in dormitories or shared rooms until the student has reached the upper levels. Meals are always provided and there is always an adult on hand to look after young students.
Private Housing Residences
Some students prefer to live off-campus in privately rented accommodation. This may arise when a student wishes to share with friends or when university accommodation is full. Advice and information about companies that can help you find places to rent is available from the university's accommodation office. There is also information in local newspapers and notice boards for those students already living in the UK. There are also many websites with information about what is available and that can give you an idea of the cost. One such site is www.streetmap.com that offers details on rental accommodation locations and distances to and from schools you may be studying at. This type of private student accommodation is very difficult to arrange unless you are already in the UK, so it is best wait until you arrive there and then look around for what's available.
It is important for international students renting private accommodation to understand all aspects of their tenancy, legal obligations and exactly what their rent includes. If it's possible, have a British friend assist you or ask the university for help.
Homestay residences are by far the number one choice for students studying a pre-university course at a tutorial college or at a language school. A Homestay is where an international student lives with a family in their home. Meals are usually provided for the student by the family depending on the type of option chosen. There is a full board option where all meals are provided, and half board which doesn't include lunch. Homestays that cooperate with language schools or colleges are all checked to make sure that they are good families in a nice environment that is suitable for students.
Homestays offer students the option to have a single room for themselves or to share with another student of a different nationality. Rooms will have a study desk and a wardrobe and should always be kept neat and tidy. Some homestay residences may have an internet connection, but this cannot always be guaranteed. It is advisable for students studying at a language school, that you book your homestay accommodation well in advance, especially during the summer season. Homestays vary on how close or far away they are from the school you are studying at. Some may be within walking distance, whereas other may require a short bus journey or a few stops on the underground.
During the summer vacation, university students will have to leave their accommodation but it is possible to stay with a host family during this period. For more information about making such accommodation arrangements, an organisation called HOST can help students - www.hostuk.org tel +44(0)20 7494 2468
Do you still have some questions? Chat to one of our counsellors for the most up-to-date professional advice. Don't forget, its free!