What is student accommodation really like? | A Guide for Parentsby Judith Charlton
As a parent soon to be dropping your son or daughter off at university, you might be wondering what student accommodation is really like.
Student accommodation will be your son or daughter’s home away from home; a place where they meet their first university friends, learn to do their own laundry, and experiment with cooking some of their own signature dishes, University accommodation and halls should be a safe, welcoming community where students can grow and transition into adult life.
But we know that moving away from home for the first time can be a scary experience (for both you and your son or daughter!), and you might not know what to expect. Read on to find out what the student accommodation experience is really like and to discover some top tips for finding the perfect residence.
Your son or daughter’s first friends
Student accommodation is where your son or daughter will make their first friends and university memories.
We want our new students to feel at home as soon as possible, and Freshers’ Week is a brilliant opportunity for students to socialise and get to know the campus. It’s also a chance to explore the city, meet their personal tutor and their new course mates.
When you arrive on campus, the friendly Accommodation Team will greet you and ensure your son or daughter has everything they need to settle in. During your son or daughter’s first week here, Accommodation’s Residential Life (ResLife) team will make sure they're settling in well and making new friends through a wide range of events, informal seminars and drop-ins.
A safe place for students to live
1 In 6 people in Newcastle is a student, and the city is renowned for being student-friendly and safe. We do all we can to make sure your son or daughter’s new home from home is safe, secure, and worry-free. We’re voted one of the top 60 student cities in the world (QS Best Student Cities 2019).
Our staff are on call 24 hours a day, and most residences provide on-site support during office hours through our friendly receptions. Earphone systems and CCTV are installed in most accommodation, and our Safezone app means students can connect directly with University Security at any time, day or night. Our Security Team also patrol campus and the accommodation sites regularly for your son or daughter’s peace of mind.
Before joining us, your son or daughter will be also asked to watch a short fire safety video as part of their accommodation induction, and fire safety information will be displayed in their new flat to ensure that students know what to do if a fire should occur. However, this is very rare, and we are pleased to say that our accommodation is regularly inspected and we are in constant contact with the fire service.
We help them settle in and learn life skills
Before your son or daughter joins us, the Accommodation Team will be in touch with them to say hello and explain everything that is going to happen when they move in, including when and where to pick up keys, when they can arrive, and more.
All first year students are guaranteed accommodation (based on a few conditions), and most of our residences come with shared social spaces where students can get to know each other. Some residences also come with additional facilities including common rooms, study areas, game zones and more.
But student accommodation is about more than which flat a student lives in. Our Accommodation Team are here to look after your son or daughter and support them throughout the year, and in 2019 we pioneered our ResLife programme, designed to support students during their first year living away from home with a regular events programme, drop-in sessions, or even just the option of a cup of tea and a listening ear.
Each student village has a dedicated ResLife Coordinator and Assistants to foster a sense of belonging, community, friendship, and independence. From cooking lessons and quiz nights to gaming events and book clubs – the team will be working with the Students’ Union, Sports’ Team, Health and Wellbeing Team, and more to make sure your son or daughter’s time here sets them up with skills and memories to last forever.
Students are never far from campus
From September 2020, most of our accommodation will be within 15 minutes’ walking distance from our city centre campus.
A lot of our accommodation is based directly on campus, which means your son or daughter won’t have far to travel. They’ll be on the doorstep of shops, doctors’ surgeries, dentists, cinemas, restaurants, libraries, and of course – their lectures and seminars.
Being in the city centre means your son or daughter will also be able to easily access Newcastle’s Central Station and bus interchanges, making visiting home quick and fuss-free. The Metro system stretches from multiple stations in the city centre to the beach, countryside, and airport, too.
How much does student accommodation cost?
How much accommodation costs depends on where your son or daughter will live.
Accommodation costs are typically broken down into weekly costs to make budgeting easier, and you can also see the overall cost for the whole year to help you compare this cost against your son or daughter’s total loan amount. For your peace of mind, rent typically includes utility costs (such as water or electricity).
Before your son or daughter makes their application, you might find it useful to work out an overall budget for their first year at university by recording any loans they might be receiving and potential costs of student living on a spreadsheet. If they apply for and are offered a room they cannot afford, they might then be offered a cheaper room which doesn’t entirely match what they were after. Once you agree on a budget, check this against our accommodation website to find accommodation that suits their style and budget.
Another thing to remember is that university-owned and managed partnerships charge their rent differently. If your son or daughter plans to stay in a managed-partnership site, they will likely be asked to pay rent before they receive their student loan. If they aren’t able to cover their rent without the loan, make sure that your son or daughter does not apply for a managed-partnership site!
Within university-owned student accommodation at Newcastle, we offer a range of flexible payment options to help your family, including monthly and termly payments. Our friendly Accommodation Finance Team is also on hand to speak to your son or daughter if they ever find themselves in a financial struggle.
They could stay anywhere from a traditional hall to a modern sky-rise
At Newcastle University, we have student accommodation to suit varied needs and preferences. Whether your son or daughter is looking for a traditional student community or an ultra-modern sky-rise apartment – there’s a student residence that’s right for them.
Parents and soon-to-be students can visit campus on one of our Open Days and take a tour of accommodation sites. Most of our accommodation is within a 15 minute walk to the centre of campus, and we have a range of accommodation types to choose from.
Catered or self-catered?
Your son or daughter can choose between self-catered accommodation and catered accommodation.
Most of our accommodation is self-catered, which gives students the freedom to choose when and where to eat. It’s an opportunity to learn how to budget for grocery shopping, and your son or daughter might even surprise you with a new culinary experience when they come home.
Our Castle Leazes accommodation offers a range of catered rooms, which means that your son or daughter can focus on their studies without having to worry about buying and cooking meals on weekdays. You can also feel calm knowing that they are eating freshly prepared, nutritional meals rather than eating pizza daily! With our catering packages, you can also save on most of the grocery costs with the cost of meals (at £3.80 per meal) included in rent.
University-owned, managed-partnership, or private accommodation?
But what’s the difference between university-owned, managed-partnership, and private accommodation?
University-owned accommodation is owned and managed by the university. This means the staff who look after the maintenance of your son or daughter’s accommodation, the friendly faces in reception, the supporting Allocations and Finance Teams, and the ResLife events are all managed by the University, too. These teams work together with various teams across campus, such as the Wellbeing Team, to make sure your son or daughter is well looked after across the board.
Private accommodation can be broken down into private purpose-built halls and houses, and managed-partnership sites.
Managed-partnership residences work together with the University to provide rooms for our students. Though your son or daughter will apply for these through the University accommodation application portal, they will be looked after by non-university staff who work for the company who own the building.
An important thing to remember is that managed-partnerships typically set up their own rent deadlines, and this can be due before your son or daughter receives their loan payment. Additionally, you might be asked to provide a UK guarantor.
Finally, your son or daughter might choose to live in private accommodation not affiliated with the University, such as a private purpose-built hall in the city centre or shared housing.
As these providers do not work with the University, we usually aren’t able to intervene if your son or daughter struggles to pay their rent or comes across other issues. Look out for statements such as “next to Newcastle University” – being close to campus does not mean that a site belongs to us! If in doubt, always check our official student accommodation information for a full list of University-owned and managed partnership residences.
How long are the contracts?
Whilst most of university-owned accommodation contracts run between 38 and 40 weeks, Managed-partnership contracts tend to be a little longer (between 42 and 43 weeks).
Staying in a managed-partnership student residence would mean that your son or daughter needs to pay rent for a few weeks after the term has finished. Make sure you have considered this before your son or daughter applies to stay at one of our partnership sites!
Whether your son or daughter stays in a university-owned or managed partnership site, they will benefit from a continuous contract which includes Christmas and Easter holidays, meaning that they will not need to vacate their room in between academic terms, and can return to the room they know without having to unpack again.
So what is student accommodation really like? It can depend on a number of things. There are lots of choices for parents and soon-to-be students to make together, from location and cost to catered or self-catered room options. Understanding these choices early means that you can work together to find the right living style to suit your son or daughter’s personality and budget.
We know how much of an impact a great accommodation experience can have on your son or daughter’s first year at university. This is why we work hard to help students make fantastic memories to last a lifetime; helping them to grow and become a confident young adult – ready for the world.
Published By Judith Charlton on 08/01/2020 | Last Updated 13/10/2020