If your child has their heart set on university halls, they’ll need to do their research and apply early. Places aren’t always guaranteed, so it’s important to encourage them to think about alternative accommodation, which can be equally fun and provide a safe living environment.


University halls

The traditional option for first year students, these are managed by the university and offer a good stepping stone from living at home to living independently.

Private student halls

A second option in some areas is a room in a purpose-built student living complex owned by a private company. Factor in which bills are included, what facilities are onsite, and how far it is from campus.

Questions to ask about university halls

Try to see one or two halls of residence on an open day – you’ll probably be taken to the best on offer, but it’s a great
time to do some fact finding.

  1. Is a place in halls guaranteed? What accommodation is available off-campus?

  2. Would a place still be guaranteed if the uni is your child’s insurance choice?

  3. What does it cost, and what’s included in that cost?

  4. Do students have to move in and out each term?

  5. Are they catered or self-catered?

  6. How big are the rooms? Are some bigger than others?

  7. How quiet are they?

  8. Can you put stuff on the walls?

  9. How secure is it?

  10. What happens in years two and three?

  11. How far will you have to travel to get to uni and town?

  12. Can you bring a car?

  13. How close is it to lecture halls, town, etc.?

  14. Does the university have a dedicated housing service for finding accommodation on and off-campus?

What do they need to pack?

Must-take items

  • Clothes – don’t pack everything! Enough for that term will do.
  • Bedding – duvet, sheets, pillows, and towels.
  • Bathroom – toiletries, medication, and a small first aid kit.
  • Laundry – washing products, laundry bag, and drying rack.
  • Electronics – laptop, printer, extension leads, and chargers.
  • Kitchen – cutlery, crockery, glasses, pots, pans, and basic gadgets such as a kettle and toaster, if these won’t be provided (check with the accommodation first).
  • Admin – passport, driving licence, NHS medical card, National Insurance number, and all important correspondences with the university.
  • Food basics – coffee, tea bags, cereal, cooking oil, tins, and condiments.
  • Some home comforts – a few special extras reminding them of home can help them settle in.

Find the right accommodation

Finding somewhere they’ll be happy to live is an important consideration for your child when choosing where to study. Use UCAS’ accommodation search to find both uni and private student accommodation, and help them make the right choice.

Accommodation search

Alternative accommodation

Private accommodation

A good option for mature students, and those who missed out on halls because they applied late or through Clearing, but it can be a big leap from living at home.

Staying at home

It can work out well for students to continue living at home – as long as you’re happy for them to stay! They may need to make more effort to get out and socialise to meet other students, but they’ll save money and avoid the hassle of moving.