Student accommodation in the UK
Our guide to student accommodation for international students studying in the UK...
Our guide to student accommodation for international students studying in the UK...
Graced with some of the world’s most highly regarded universities, the UK is a leading study abroad destination for international students. With big, bustling cities of key professional and economic interest, it’s no surprise that students from around the world flock to the nation’s shores.
But with UK institutions in such high demand, the idea of securing student accommodation might seem overwhelming or even unrealistic. Not to worry: our overview of your accommodation options whilst studying in the UK will help simplify your planning process.
Tip: Accommodation queries might be something you want to ask a university about through our site, using the ‘Ask a question’ button.
Note: £1 = €1.20 = US$1.66
Almost all universities in the UK will offer students the chance to live in rooms within residence halls. As there is a limited amount of rooms available, this type of accommodation is typically reserved for students completing the first year of their Bachelor degree. Rooms may be single or private, within halls located either on or very close to campus. All UK university halls, as well as many privately owned halls are covered by accreditation schemes that ensure halls are managed and maintained to an acceptable standard.
Most universities will guarantee first-year students a place in a hall if you accept your university offer by a given deadline. Rental contracts are usually signed on a 40-week (one academic year), term, and offer both self-catered and meal plan options. It might feel scary, but living on campus is a great way to thrust yourself into the bustle of campus life. As first-years, you’re all thrown into the same boat and so will be keen to make new friends. Halls seek to foster a strong sense of student community, and often hold social events specifically designed to help students get to know each other. Halls are also a good ‘ease-in’ to renting in the private sector: students enjoy relative independence, but are ultimately managed by the university and do not need to deal directly with landlords or bills.
Each hall has a separate character, room options, facilities and set of rental costs, so be sure to do your research before you fill out your housing form. You may also have to pay different fees depending if you’re an EU or non-EU student.
For example, non-EU students at the University of Portsmouth are guaranteed a place in halls for their first year of study provided they submit a completed accommodation form with £250 (US$415) in advanced rent before a given deadline (usually around the start of August for a start in semester one of the same year). EU students will instead be sent a housing guide when their offer is accepted that details their application process. Regardless of nationality, students with a room in Harry Law Hall that shares a kitchen with eight-nine others will pay £111 (US$184) per week in rental costs, or £4,116 (US$6836) for a 37-week rental contract. All rooms in all Portsmouth residence halls include internet and utility bills in rental costs, and come with basic furnishings.
Many universities will provide off-campus housing options, or work in partnership with student housing agencies to provide additional housing options. This is the most common type of accommodation for undergraduate students in their second and third years of study. Property types are typically shared apartments or student houses. For example, the University of Lincoln manages a number of off-campus residences and apartment blocks with varied room options. Students may rent a room in one of 22 self-contained apartments in Brayford court, with a kitchen and common area shared between 3-6 people. In the 2014-2015 academic year, rental costs varied from £4290.24-£4,798.08 (US$ 7125-US$7969), plus a £390 (US$648) deposit. Rent is inclusive of internet and utility costs.
You university will also be able to put you in touch with private landlords in the area with whom they have worked with to house students in the past. These landlords are often vetted and will not be listed on a university’s accommodation listings if they are reported by previous student tenants to be difficult or unfair.
When you rent a property in liaison with your host university, they will not only protect your interests with an external landlord, but often provide additional student services such as support networks and advice.
This is a fairly new student accommodation option that has arisen to meet increasing demands for inner city accommodation. Properties operate as share-houses, with about four or five private rooms within a unit that share a kitchen and communal areas. Rooms often have en-suite bathrooms, and are usually more expensive than halls on campus. These rooms are typically aimed at students not in their first year.
For example, students at the University of Bristol might rent a room in Holly Court Studios, a privately owned hall directly opposite campus. Students may rent shared rooms, studio flats or one-bed apartments, some with private kitchens. Students will pay £140 (US$233) per week for a twin room, and £205 (US$340) per week for a large studio flat with a private kitchen. All rental costs are inclusive of facilities.
There are a number of UK housing agencies that deal directly in student housing. Student agencies operate like any other property rental agency; depending on the location, property type and your budget, the sky is the limit on what you might pay in rent. Whilst agencies will often charge you a fee to register with them as well as an additional service fee, you will have a professional perspective working in your favour to help find you the right place to live.
For example, one of the biggest UK student housing agencies UNITE offers students the chance to rent a room in a shared flat, or to rent a studio flat. All rooms have private study areas and internet, and most have their own bathroom. Bills are included in rental costs.
Students will also have the option to rent property directly from a landlord or private agency. Renting a room in a share house or apartment will be much cheaper than renting a studio apartment or living on halls, particularly if you’re based in London. For example, a weekly rental cost for a three-bed apartment in Camden is approximately £829 (US$1377) for the whole flat, whilst a similar property in Hackney will cost about £515 (US$855), both excluding utilities. In Manchester however, monthly rent excluding utilities for a basic, small one-person apartment is £636 (US$1056).
Again you can find out about these options through your university’s listings or microsite specifically for accommodation. If a landlord or property owner is reported by previous student tenants as being unfair or operating under false pretences, then they will be removed from these listings which are regulated consistently.
Where renting privately or through an agency, students should always be sure to have the direct number of their landlord. If you have a blocked pipe or flooded toilet your agency is not obliged to rush to the rescue: they will contact the landlord, and relay messages back to you. Landlords have certain obligations to their tenants and it’s important you’re able to hold them to your contract. If your landlord refuses to give you his mobile number or contact details, maybe it’s best you rethink the contract. If a landlord does not respond to your calls then they may be held accountable by your agency, or a kind of local governing body.
It may seem convenient to go for all-inclusive rental costs, but landlords often round up in their favour so you’re likely to be paying for more than you use. Where possible, choose to pay for what you use; it’s an extra incentive to be more economical with your electricity, gas and water, too.
Students with joint tenancy agreements should check that they are not saddled with the rent should their housemates move out. All of this should be confirmed in writing before you move in.
Now that securing student accommodation in the UK doesn’t seem so scary, why not browse courses in the UK now and start planning your study abroad adventure?
Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.