How and when to apply for accommodation for your course

Have you applied to uni to study courses like dispensing optics, medicine or optometry? For some people, going to uni is as much about the life experience as it is about the course – so you want to get your choice of where you live right.

There are a number of options open to you:

Live at home and study a full-time degree at a local uni. With the rising cost of living, staying at home can seem like the sensible choice. You will still be eligible for a student loan for your fees and towards your living costs. Plus you will have the support of your family and be close to your friends. You won’t need to find accommodation – although you may worry about missing out on some parts of student life because of this.

Live at home and choose a block release course. Not everyone knows that this is an option. You can combine paid work and go away to a college or uni to study part time. There are a number of plus points for this: your employer may pay your course fees. You can get the fun of sharing accommodation when on block release while enjoying living at home the rest on the time. However you will also need to study between periods of block release which can put the pressure on. You won’t necessarily be eligible for a student loan – this will depend on whether your course leads to a degree.

Choose a course where you will live away from home. This can be seen as the traditional route to uni: you pick the course you want to study and apply for unis in a range of towns and cities. If this is the option you have chosen, you will have to look for accommodation once you have accepted a firm offer. Universities usually open accommodation for bookings in April. Some will guarantee accommodation to students in their first year and this may affect which uni you choose. Make sure you register on the university website and apply as soon as you have made up your mind as other unis can offer rooms on a first come, first served basis.

Making your choice

Your choice of accommodation will depend on a number of factors:

  • Budget is a big one: the newest en suite accommodation will cost more than older rooms with a shared bathroom.  Think about what you really need and what is a nice to have.
  • Beyond that you may want to look at location: do you want to be close to classes and uni life, or are you happy to be a bus ride away?
  • Check out the facilities on offer at the different halls. Some may offer a gym, café, study area: which are important to you?
  • Most unis now offer a choice of type of halls: you can opt for single sex, quiet halls and alcohol-free halls. If you can’t see what you want on the online system get in touch with the admissions service.
  • If you have special needs you may require a room with specific access. Contact the university early on to flag this to ensure that your needs are met in a stress-free way for you.
  • Some unis offer a choice of catered or self-catering halls. Have a think if you would like the ease of knowing that something will be on offer for your breakfast and dinner every day. This option is, however, more costly than self-catering. If you want to self-cater, practice cooking before you leave home.

These are just some of the factors to take into account when choosing accommodation at uni. Remember to register on the uni website and apply for your choice of accommodation as soon as you have firmed your place in order to get the best choice. Then it’s time to wait for your results – and look forward to enjoying uni life.