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Applying for accommodation

Week 29

25 March 2024

The next most important thing to do after you’ve accepted an offer is to secure where you’re going to live for the next year! It’s around about now that many universities will invite those who’ve accepted an offer to apply for accommodation. Don’t hang around, though, or you might miss out. Our guide covers the main things you need to think about.

Only six months to go until you start uni! This will come around quicker than you think, and the next thing to tick off your ‘things to do before starting uni’ list is to apply for accommodation.

Each university will have their own way of dealing with accommodation applications, but here we cover the key things you need to be aware of and consider, no matter what uni you’ve applied to.

Get your application in

The vast majority of universities will only let you apply for accommodation in their halls if they are your first choice uni and you’ve accepted an unconditional firm or conditional firm offer to study there. This will normally mean that you have guaranteed accommodation – but you still have to physically apply before the deadline.

Typically, applications are made online. If your chosen uni has made you an offer, you should receive an email with a link and further information on how to apply. If you haven’t received anything, it’s definitely worth checking!

Quite often, rooms will be allocated in the order in which applications are received – so make sure you get in there quickly to stand a better chance of getting the room you want!

Be warned – there will be a deadline for applications! This is normally sometime around June or July – but be sure to check the exact date for your chosen uni.

Where to live

Normally when you apply you’re able to state what type of room you want to live in, ie, en-suite, shared flat, quieter location, etc. You’ll also need to consider things like: where the halls are located and - very important - what the cost will be.

Hopefully by now you’ve done your research on which halls you want to apply for at your chosen uni, or even had a look around some at an open day. If you haven’t, our guide from week 20 outlines the different types of halls a university may have, and things to think about when deciding where to live.

As with everything, there are pros and cons to all types of accommodation, so have a good look at what’s available and what suits your personality and the student lifestyle you want to have.

What happens next?

Again, this can vary from university to university, but once you’ve applied there will be a short wait while the uni allocates the rooms to each applicant.

You’ll then likely be contacted by email so that you can view your allocation. More often than not, you won’t be able to change what you’re offered.

The next step is to secure your accommodation. Quite often, this is by paying a deposit or pre-payment. And you normally only have a few days to accept and confirm your accommodation – so don’t delay!

One thing to note, once you have accepted your accommodation and signed any residency agreement, this forms a legally binding contract. Once this is signed, often the only way you can cancel your room and get any prepayment back is if you are no longer going to be studying at your original chosen uni. If you simply change your mind, it's unlikely to be as straightforward - you may lose your deposit or prepayment, you may still have to pay rent, and you’ll probably have no choice but to live there. The advice here is to always read the smallprint!

What if I miss the deadline or if I make a late application to uni?

If you miss the deadline or make a later application to uni (ie, through clearing or if you end up going to your insurance choice), it’s unlikely that you’ll be guaranteed a place in student halls. Again, this may vary between unis, so be sure to check with the accommodation team.

Don’t panic, though – unis will quite often keep a waiting list so that rooms can be reallocated if and when they become available. Plus, there are plenty of other options available to you, as covered in our 52 Things article about choosing accommodation.

Tasks for this week

  • Keep an eye out for an email from your chosen uni to apply for accommodation.
  • Make sure you have a good look at the accommodation options available to you, bearing in mind cost, location and room type.
  • Get your applications in early - most often this could mean that you get the room you want in the halls you want.
  • Remember to read the small print!