If you are an international student from India travelling to the UK to study, the whole experience of searching for an accommodation can become quite overwhelming. The thought of uprooting yourself from the comfort of your home and from the cradle of love that you have been surrounded with since childhood can be stressful.
What further adds to that stress is finding a secure, comfortable, and affordable place to stay in a new country where you can study, work, and socialise without worry. Where you choose to stay will have a major impact on your experience so to ensure a smooth transition research ahead, explore different accommodation in UK, and run through various checkpoints to get the best combination of price and location.
If this is your first time living on your own or at an international destination, consider the guide below to help plan for your UK accommodation.
- Research & Plan / Seek Advice & Support – Research to form a general idea on where you would want to live based on your university location, accommodation options, budget, and part-time job opportunities. There are many useful resources on the internet including several housing websites like Accommodation for Students, Unite Students, My Student Halls, etc., which cater to student accommodation in UK. If you want to avoid the dilemma of choosing an accommodation on your own, connect with the alumni or current students at your university for valuable insights on UK accommodation and surrounding facilities. Moreover, seek assistance from your university’s housing office or one of their registered educational agents.
ScotsGrad, the official educational partner to some of the most prestigious UK universities, offers expert assistance in selecting the right accommodation for you based on your preferences and budget. ScotsGrad has also launched a ‘University Series’ on YouTube where you can learn further about Scottish universities and the facilities nearby.
- Decide on the Type of Student Accommodation – There are several options in student accommodation in the UK with each providing very different experiences. The accommodation options can be broadly categorised into two:
a) University Accommodation – This form of UK accommodation is university-run and is located within the university campus. There are two types of campus accommodation – halls of residence and self-catered halls. Halls of residence are large buildings with flats where you can avail a single or shared room. Most of these hall residences come with a canteen facility. However, if you prefer cooking your own meals, opt for self-catered halls. Unlike residences, these self-catered halls come with communal kitchens to prepare your own meals. University accommodation is usually allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis and also has an application deadline, so apply as early as possible. The application is usually online wherein you are required to share your preferences on the type of hall and room (ensuite, standard, catered)
b) Private Accommodation – Alternatively, you can avail private accommodation in UK, either managed by a landlord or operated by a third-party company. They are similar to university accommodation offering both shared and ensuite rooms and sometimes studio rooms at a premium price. These accommodations are usually located around the university campus or in the city centre. According to Unipol and NUS’s 2018 survey, the average weekly rent for private accommodation increased by over £150 since 2011, mainly driven up by the facilities they offer like on-site gyms, 24-hour concierge, complimentary meals, etc. Interestingly, the average rental bill was found to take up a significant part of the student loan.
Whether you decide to move into a university or private UK accommodation, consider your finances well and ensure you sign a tenancy agreement outlining your rent, deposit, duration and terms of your stay. Understand the terms of the agreement, and in case of any doubt reach out to your university housing office, ScotsGrad and/or existing students and alumni.
- Difference between university and private accommodation in UK
|Factors||University Accommodation||Private Accommodation|
|Location||They are usually on-campus and/or near the university’s main buildings||They can be further ahead and are usually in and around the city center. You might end up paying for travel to and from the university|
|Amenities||University accommodations are equipped with a wide variety of amenities including bed, duvet, pillow, mattress, bathroom, cooking facilities, Wi-Fi, gas, electricity, laundry, TV, communal area, 24/7 surveillance, among others||They offer similar amenities. There are a few private halls with more amenities and contemporary interiors, but they might charge a premium for their services|
|Bathroom||Universities offer ensuite rooms with communal kitchens. However, with older university accommodations, you might have to share a bathroom as well. If you opt for an ensuite room, remember that it will come at a premium||Private accommodation offers both shared and ensuite rooms. They also offer studio rooms, which usually comes at a premium|
|Social Life||The main draw is the social circle that you can build within your university hall. Offering a mixture of undergrads, postgrads, and overseas students, you will get the opportunity to build a strong and diverse social network here||You might not be able to make as many friends or meet as many foreign or mature students in comparison to university halls|
|Cost||You can choose from various installment options to pay your rent. Universities sometimes offer leeway until your student finance comes through||Since they run for profit, private accommodation tends to be more expensive than older university halls and often expect you to pay your full rent in advance. Moreover, there might be a no break clause if you want to leave early and there is no leeway when it comes to a delay in your rent payment|
|Administration||No hassle of dealing with a letting agent or landlord||You will deal directly with a letting agent or landlord. A 2019 university survey found that over 1 in 10 students had issues with their landlord, while 13% had issues with their letting agent.|
- The Etiquette List
Living in student accommodation with like-minded individuals can be a great way to make new friends. But, there are a few etiquettes that you need to follow to maintain the sanctity of the place you’re staying in and with the people you are living with. Here is your etiquette list –
- Know your roommates. Greet them while passing through the hall and start a conversation with someone new. It is always good to accept invitations to social events and make new friends.
- Try to be inclusive in everything you do. Invite your roommates to your social outings and get to know them.
- Make the most of your student accommodation by using its communal areas for social gatherings.
- Follow the rules that might be in place in your student accommodation. Maintain noise levels, restrict the number of guests into your room, and follow the alcohol and smoking guidelines to ensure a safe space for everyone.
- Do not take anyone’s food even if it looks tempting. Label your food and ask everyone to do the same to avoid eating someone’s food and vice versa.
- Clean your used utensils and the kitchen countertop after cooking. Since most student accommodations have shared kitchens, you need to clean up after cooking for the next person to use the kitchen.
- Share the chores so that everyone participates equally in the cleaning process. Each roommate can be allotted certain tasks throughout the week to ensure that the accommodation is clean.
- Respect others’ privacy by not forcing them to join your social gatherings. Also, knock before entering someone’s room.
- Ask before using someone’s belongings and make sure to return them within a respectable time frame and in the condition you took them in.
- Using a shared bathroom can become chaotic, especially in the morning. Respect everyone’s time and ensure that you do not take-up considerable time in the washroom. Also, keep the washroom clean for the next person to use.
Life as an international student is a mixture of both freedom and responsibility. While you will get to enjoy more freedom than you would normally enjoy at home, you also need to act responsible and follow the rules and regulations of the new country and accommodation that you are in.
As a leading educational consultancy firm, ScotsGrad, has been providing end to end advisory services to Indians students aspiring to study in the UK. What makes us unique is that we offer a holistic approach to your education – guiding you all through the way from university and course selection, scholarship and accommodation guidance, loan and visa application to resume building and career support. Our mentors are former students of leading UK universities, which makes them the best guides for your academic and professional progression.
UK Accommodation Checklist:
● Check the condition of the property by visiting or asking a friend to visit
● Check for your landlord’s gas safety certificate (CP12); in Scotland, your landlord will also need to send you an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
● Do a safety check on all the locks
● Check for smoke alarms
● Check for essential furnishings in the bedroom
● Check for cooking facilities in the kitchen
● Check if bed sheets and linen are being provided
● Check for laundry facilities
● Check for internet access and associated cost
● Check for additional costs for specific services
ScotsGrad is a pioneer in establishing the UK, especially Scotland, as a premier destination for higher education among students in India. We provide end to end advisory services including psychometric assessment, personalised interactions, university and visa application assistance, and career guidance. The personalised interactions with our members, former graduates of leading UK universities, ensure a holistic and systematic approach. We are also the only consultancy in India enabling “career success” for any student going to the UK.
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All the Best!