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Student accommodation guide #1: university halls

Ucas application done, now the next challenge – sorting your university accommodation. If you’re considering university halls, here’s what you need to know.

Halls aren’t your only accommodation option, compare the different types here

Choosing university halls: pros and cons 

Halls are a popular choice for first years, but are they right for you? Here are the pros and cons to weigh up before you complete your accommodation application. 

Pros of uni halls:

  • Convenient location: near to or on campus / the university community
  • Less admin to worry about: rent usually includes bills, and you’re likely to have maintenance staff on hand if you have any problems
  • Good for making friends: immediate access to lots of students, plus some universities are known to try and match housemates based on preferences and personalities (via questionnaires)
  • Extra support: you're more likely to have good pastoral care services on hand, such as counselling and disability support.

It's perfect for me because there are 26 other people, so it is quite lively First Year Student | University Of Reading, 2017

It's exceeded my expectations. I am with four other people but we have a great sized kitchen and two bathrooms between us. However, I am the only girl in my section of the flat, which seems a bit weird as I asked for mixed accommodation. But luckily I have been put with nice people.
  First Year Student | University Of Surrey, 2017

Cons of uni halls

  • Can be expensive: it’s worth comparing with other options and checking your budget first
  • No guarantees: you might not get a place in your preferred accommodation
  • Not 'your own space': you're sharing with many others, which means there will probably be extra noise and mess!

Not all flatmates are clean and tidy with their dishes...
  First Year Student | Manchester Metropolitan University, 2017

First year halls are a great experience. Even though the rooms are generally small and the bathrooms may be shared, they are a great way to meet people, and most are very central.
  Second Year Business Student | King's College London

Typical costs: halls vs private rental accommodation

While rent in halls includes utility bills (gas, electricity, water and internet), and contracts are slightly shorter than in the private rental sector, university halls are still likely to be the more expensive accommodation option overall. 

However, when making the move to university, spending your first year in halls on campus can make the whole adjustment significantly easier (including allowing you a bit longer in bed ahead of morning lectures).

Conveniently located shop and laundry rooms in each block, reception is open 24/7.
  First Year Student | University Of Nottingham, 2017

It's a first year only building so everyone is in the same boat. The kitchens are very small considering it's shared by 12 people.
  First Year Student | University Of Oxford, 2017

Hall prices vary greatly, both within a university, as well as from one institution to another. For instance, when looking at the cheapest non-catered halls at different institutions, we found examples in Liverpool charging around £200 per month versus one London-based institution charging just over £1,300.* 

We wouldn’t recommend basing your entire university decision on the price of halls at an institution alone (although consider what your living costs as a whole might come to, especially if you move off-campus in subsequent years). 

Going back to first year, don’t dismiss the cheapest halls . What’s more important to you: having an ensuite bathroom or enough money to have a good time? 

Lea Halls on the cheapest accommodation that the university offers so I wasn't expecting much but I'm happy with what I have. The rooms are of a reasonable size, the kitchen has everything you could need, security is 24/7 so it's very safe. My family aren't as keen as I am, they believe the rooms have the feel of prison cells! But I'm happy.
  First Year Student | University Of Bedfordshire, 2017

Nice rooms. Would have picked another accommodation though as the way the room looks doesn't matter to me now. Expensive, but there are a lot of facilities.
  First Year Student | University Of Huddersfield, 2017

Often students report being happier in cheaper accommodation as they still have enough money left over to enjoy themselves.


University halls: facilities checklist

If you've decided to go for halls, there is still plenty to think about, including: 
  • huge range of room types (standard, ensuite, studio etc), sizes and locations to choose from
  • whether to go for catered or non-catered halls
  • many universities offer specialist accommodation for disabled students or students with children, as well as that suited to particular preferences (eg quieter areas, those with more international students etc.)

It's very expensive! It’s good quality though, clean and quiet. Food is very hit and miss so I wish we did have kitchens.
  First Year Student | Birkbeck, University Of London, 2017

The food is better than expected, especially the variety (I wasn't expecting a choice of vegetarian food). Cleaners come once a week, common rooms are spacious, it's nice.  I feel like there are too many room checks though. I don't like coming home and realising someone's been in my room, it feels like a violation of privacy. Having said that I'd still recommend my accommodation to others.
  First Year Student | University Of Edinburgh, 2017

About our data
*University halls data: collated from cheapest non-catered hall prices, as advertised on individual university websites, correct as of February 2018. 

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