As A-level results day looms, many students will be thinking that they may not have got the grades they need to get in to the university of their choice and will be researching other options through Clearing. Or maybe you will do better than you were predicted and you decide to trade up through Adjustment.
The potential downside of both these routes is that there might not be spaces available in Halls for students who apply through Clearing or Adjustment. Some universities do keep spaces for these students, but more often than not, there is no guarantee and you could find yourself hunting around for somewhere to live.
So what are the choices available to you?
Private Halls of Residence
In recent years more and more private halls of residence have been built, which are not connected to a specific university or college. They are often a bit more expensive than the Halls provided by the University but they are usually built to a very high standard and will be good quality, modern, en-suite rooms. Private Halls offer a similar experience to living in University Halls so you will not feel as though you are missing out and they have the added advantage that you will often be with students from other Universities in the city too, so you will be with a more diverse group of people.
Advantages: you will get a nice, modern room with all the home comforts and you won’t be missing out on the Halls experience
Disadvantages: can be more expensive than University Halls.
Most students in their 2nd and 3rd years will go in to shared flats and houses with their friends. However, this is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Students are often under pressure to reserve their house for the following year very early on in their first year and will find themselves paying a deposit on a house with people they’ve only known a couple of weeks. By the time it comes round to it the following September they may find that there are other groups they would rather be with, or some students will have dropped out of the course so you will find that there are spaces in some of these shared houses, being advertised over the summer. Most universities will have a notice board or forum where students can advertise their spare rooms, or there are websites such as EasyRoommate.co.uk where students and others looking to fill a spare room, can advertise.
Advantages: you will be with a group of students who already know their way around who can help you settle in.
Disadvantages: you will not be with others in the first year and you may find that you make less friends in your peer group.
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Another option, which is often a common choice for international students, but could also be appropriate for some UK students, is to stay with a host family. University Halls are not for everyone and some students may prefer the home from home experience, living with a family and having the option of home cooked meals and your laundry done for you! Check out www.homestay.com
Advantages: this can make moving away from home easier if you settle in with the host family, it is an easier first step to independence and you do not need to commit to the whole academic year. You could just book for a couple of months while you find your feet and some friends to share a house with.
Disadvantages: you will need to make more of an effort to get involved in University social life as you will find yourself more removed from all the activities.
Scholarships for your accommodation costs.
It is also worth bearing in mind that there are some scholarships available which either pay for your accommodation costs or a percentage towards the costs. Some of these are specific to a particular university and will require you to have accepted the university as your first choice in UCAS. There is also one offered by The Unite Foundation which is open to specific students at a wide range of universities. Check if yours is on the list.
Unite Foundation Scholarships
The Unite Foundation provides free student accommodation and a generous annual scholarship to young people in the UK who aspire to a degree – but face the most challenging circumstances..