So you’ve got a place through Clearing. Now what?
The next thing you need to sort out is housing as you’ll be moving away to university less than a month. Supply exceeds demand in most university cities, so you have plenty of time and plenty of options available to you.
Before diving headfirst into the accommodation search, first sort out your budget and make a list of your absolute essentials for housing then begin to look at housing that meets those requirements. Be prepared to make compromises. Try to start as soon as you can after your Clearing place is confirmed as the best places will fill up fast.
WHO CAN I TALK TO ABOUT HOUSING?
- Your first contact should be the University accommodation office. They offer advice and can let you know if there are places available in halls. They can provide you with the information and contacts you need to find housing.
- Speaking to your University Student Union is also an option. It’s staffed by students so they’ll be able to let you know insider tips on where to find housing. Lots of universities have partnerships with local lettings agents so they'll be able to provide you with the contact details you need and point you in the right direction.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
University Housing On Campus
Lots of universities guarantee a place in halls for students coming in through Clearing such as Loughborough University and the University of Northumbria who ensure Clearing students have accomodation.
It’ll be likely that you haven’t had a chance to visit the university before accepting place through Clearing, but lots of universities offer Clearing Open Days where you can tour the accommodation on offer. Most universities have virtual tours on their accomodation websites and you can read reviews from past students to see if that's the right kind of accomodation for you.
The newest university accommodation is probably going to be full, but all university halls are of a decent standard. Having an ensuite room isn’t essential and doesn’t contribute to having an amazing first year! If you don’t like your halls universities offer students the chance to change halls later on in the term if there are spaces available. If there aren’t any spots open during Clearing be sure to get on the waiting list as soon as possible as students will drop out/move accommodation blocs before term begins.
"Fortunately, I didn’t have any issues getting a place in halls as my university was able to reserve a number of rooms specifically for students going through clearing” – Jasper - University of Northampton
Private halls of residence are operated by a third-party company rather than the university. Private halls have a very similar layout to university halls. They have private bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, shared kitchens, social areas, and are located close to the university or in the city centre. They’re often new builds, offering a gym and a 24-hour concierge, so are more luxurious than your stereotypical grimy student halls. Lots of private halls have students from different universities within the city and are often popular with international students so you’ll get a chance to meet lots of different people.
Private halls providers:
Cities often have city-specific private halls so be sure to research what’s available near your university.
Shared House Private Housing
For many students the idea of living off campus in your first year is the end of the world. They think that socialising starts and ends with halls. This is not the case, your social life will survive. While lots of people make friends with their flatmates on campus, many people don’t. It's important to remember that there was no guarantee you’d get on with your first-year flatmates, and you’ll have endless opportunities to make friends who live in halls– on your course, through clubs and societies, on nights out, friends of friends etc.
Living off campus has lots of benefits to halls. Private housing is often a lot cheaper than halls of residence and are much quieter. When the noise of halls gets too much your friends will be glad to have a place to escape to off campus! You normally get a 52-week contract and larger rooms with a DOUBLE bed (most halls have single beds). Whilst the houses won’t be on campus, they’ll be in the city centre or short walk/bus ride away from university so you get to see way more of your university town outside of the campus bubble.
However, private housing often requires a larger deposit and it’s harder to get out of your tenancy if you don’t like your housemates/decide the university isn’t for you and want to drop out. When living in private housing be sure to read every word of your contract and speak to your landlord/letting agent about whose responsibility it is if appliances such as the washing machine break. Most university student unions offer students support when reading through contracts so if there's anything you don't understand/need help with they will be able to help you.
Your options are to join a flat/house share with students who’re looking to fill a room. You can find potential flatmates on social media or The Student Room.
If you can visit the house before signing you definitely should, as pictures can be deceiving. If you're unable to visit it before hand and you're looking at a spare room ask for a FaceTime tour of the house - this'll also give you the chance to speak to your potential housemates and see if they're the right ones for you.
Alternatively, you could join Clearing Facebook pages for your university to meet first year students who’re in a similar situation and look for a house together - you were willing to live with strangers in halls, this is no different!
"I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to go into uni halls as they were all booked up by the time I went through clearing, sometimes though I think it was a godsend, having my own room in a shared house with no rules and regulations, and most importantly - no students burning their 3am pizza and waking up the whole block!" - Hannah - University of West England
Alternatively, you could look into getting a flat of your own. This has the same benefits of living off campus - flats tend to be in the city centre so you'll be in the perfect location for nights out and can explore the city more. Private flats are often a lot more expensive than student halls, but you have the benefits of privacy and independence.
Where can I find off-campus accommodation?
University Lettings: Some universities have their own lettings services for students looking for housing. The University of Bristol’s Student Union runs a lettings service for students where landlords have to sign a code of conduct and there’s no agency fees to pay.
University Approved Lettings Agents: Most universities have approved letting agents that they recommend students use. For example, Leeds universities have Unipol which is a registered charity that works with the university.
Letting websites: Letting agents within your university town offer a variety of different accommodations.
Spare Room: Here you can find a spare room in houses full of students.
Rightmove Students: The dedicated student arm of Rightmove. Here you can find properties for students.
By Clarissa Ducie