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Study abroad : Student Accommodation

Key questions to ask about student accommodation

To find the right student accommodation for your needs you need to ask the right questions and get key information. We guide you through what you should ask a university about accommodation.

student accommodation

Student accommodation is important for your study abroad experience. It’s not just somewhere to live, but your new home. You want to find somewhere comfortable and that suits your needs, including your budget. That’s why you must ask a university some critical questions when researching, selecting and applying for accommodation. We outline what you must ask, the information you’ll need, and how to use this to choose an accommodation option. 



How much does it cost?

Establish what the cost of accommodation at your prospective university will be. You can request a schedule of costs, which should also include the types of accommodation the university offers. Make sure that you understand the monthly and annual costs, as well as any additional charges. Some of the accommodation types offered include:


  • Single room 
  • Shared room 
  • Studio flat
  • Flat with ensuite 
  • Shared house


Try to establish if the university has off-campus accommodation. If so, explore where the location is and if it is run by a private provider partnering with the university. There could be other costs involved in this case. You will also need to consider transport costs and catering for off-campus accommodation. 


Learn more about accommodation by exploring a university prospectus.


What amenities and services are provided?

You’ll want to know what is included with your accommodation, besides the basics. Your minimum expectations should be a bed, desk, cupboard and wash basin. Some of the additional amenities and services you should ask about include:


  • Catering and food provision 
  • Bathroom facilities 
  • Entertainment options (common room, games room etc…)
  • WiFi
  • Kitchen facilities 
  • White goods such as kettles, toasters, microwaves, and washing machines
  • Cleaning and laundry services
  • Utilities such as electricity, gas and water


Make sure you understand if any of the above means extra costs and what is in your accommodation contract. On-campus accommodation is more likely to offer all-inclusive options, while off-campus accommodation offered by partner providers may supply these for a fee. 


Discover how to survive university on a student budget.



How is student accommodation allocated?

You’ve probably heard that student accommodation applications can be competitive. While there can be limited availability, if you speak to a university well in advance of application deadlines, you’ll have a better understanding of what to do to secure accommodation.


Many universities aim to provide a diverse and balanced environment for students. This means a blend of international and domestic students, study levels, and ages. However, be sure to ask if the university allows you to list your preferences, such as:


  • Preferred study level 
  • Preferred lifestyle 
  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Location 
  • Facilities 


For example, if you are studying for a postgraduate degree, you may appreciate sharing your space with other older students in a quieter environment. Further, you may want to understand how many international students live in particular accommodation options. 


Find out more about accommodation options in the UK


Can you choose who you live with?

You may know someone studying at your prospective university or have heard about a particular hall of residence you like. While it is possible to submit a request for a particular roommate or hall, this cannot be guaranteed by a university. Universities may consider this request if it is mutual, so the person you wish to share with agrees or is a family member. 


This may also be the case if students from your home country stay in a particular hall, and you would feel more comfortable there. Always ask the university what their policy is and what application or motivation needs to be submitted. You can also speak to the international office, which can help. 



Can you change accommodation?

What happens if you arrive at university and don’t settle into your new accommodation or are not happy with your room? You can speak to your university about this, as they can support you. Most institutions have an accommodation transfer policy in place for students. This doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed new accommodation, but you can apply for this if needed. 


Always ask your university about the terms and conditions of their accommodation contracts. Some could mean that swapping accommodation options is not permitted. Make sure you understand the reasons a university allows you to change your accommodation. You will always have to communicate a valid reason or motivation with sufficient evidence if you wish to move.


Explore what student accommodation is like in Ireland. 



What are the rules and regulations?

Every university will have policies, rules and regulations that apply to accommodation. You will want to find out what these are and how they would affect you. It’s important to see whether they align with the lifestyle you’re looking for and with your preferences. Some of the essential areas you should ask questions about include:


  • Accommodation security 
    • How do you enter and exit the building?
    • Are there guards and a card system in place?
    • How do you ensure the safety of your room and possessions?
    • Will you need personal insurance for valuable items?
  • Cleaning and maintenance 
    • Who is responsible for room cleaning and maintenance? 
    • Who looks after the building?
    • How do you report a problem?
  • Code of conduct 
    • What are the expected standards of behaviour?
    • Who enforces the code of conduct?
    • What happens if this is breached?
    • Are there dispute and conflict resolution procedures in place?
  • Guest policy 
    • Are you allowed guests? If so, whom and when?
    • How many guests are allowed?
  • Communal facility use 
    • What times can the facilities be used?
    • Do you have to book?
    • What are the conditions of use?
  • Noise policy
    • Are there times when socialising is reduced?
    • Are there quiet areas?
  • Catering and meals
    • Where and when are meals provided?
    • Are dietary requirements catered for?
    • Are you allowed to cook and keep food in your room?


By getting as much information on accommodation as you can, it’s easier to make a decision and prepare. Universities are always willing to help international students and provide advice. 


Now that you are ready to ask the right questions, it could be time to explore some other important elements of studying abroad. Firstly, how much does it cost to study abroad? Secondly, what are the benefits of studying abroad? Lastly, how do you apply to study abroad?