How To Apply For Student Accommodation: A Guide To Uni Accommodation 2023

Wondering when and how to apply for student accommodation for the 2023/24 academic year? We've got you!

Written byHolly Barrow
Published on
Read time6 min read

So you’ve been accepted onto your dream course and will officially be moving to university… now it’s time to find somewhere to live! 

One of the most crucial aspects of the transition to university life is finding the right student accommodation for you. 

Most universities guarantee first year students a space in their purpose-built uni accommodation, but unfortunately you may not always get the accommodation you apply for - so it's important to have back-up options and make sure you meet the necessary application deadlines!


If you’re wondering when and how to apply for student accommodation for the 2023/24 academic year, here’s everything you need to know… 

Remember to join TOTUM to make the most of incredible student discounts during your student years and beyond - you can even kit out your new home for less with our range of homeware brand discounts...

What are halls of residence?

If you’re just about to begin your university journey, you might have heard student accommodation referred to in a number of ways: halls of residence, student halls, uni accommodation… 

They all pretty much mean the same thing, however there is a slight distinction between halls of residence and private student accommodation. 

University halls or halls of residence are managed by your university and usually offer students convenience, are built to accommodate a wide range of budgets and are primarily for first year students, whereas private student accommodation is run by an external provider such as Unite and Student Living, can be slightly more costly, and may include a mix of first, second and third years (though again, you can expect mostly freshers).  

How much is student accommodation?


The cost of student accommodation varies depending on location, the type of accommodation, and whether it’s catered or self-catered. 

Some university halls are catered, meaning you’ll have the luxury of having your meals cooked for you. You’ll still have basic kitchen amenities in your flat/apartment to make yourself a quick snack during the day or meals at weekends, but on the whole you won’t have to think so much about food shopping/cooking as your meals will largely be prepared for you. 

Self-catered halls or private accommodation instead require you to prepare all of your meals yourself, so it's often cheaper (at least on the surface) than catered accommodation - though when you take into account how much you'll spend on food shops each week, you may actually save more by opting for catered accommodation. 

Save The Student’s 2023 National Student Accommodation Survey found that average uni accommodation in the UK costs £592 per month, while private halls costs on average £596 per month. 

As expected, London student rent is by far the most expensive, costing an average of £663 per month. 

Does my student loan cover student accommodation?


Since your maintenance loan is calculated based on your personal circumstances - such as your household income, whether you’re a dependent, where you'll be living during your studies, whether you’re a full- or part-time student and other factors - it’s impossible to say whether your student loan will cover your accommodation costs. 

However, typically, the maintenance loan is there to help you with all living costs - including rent, bills and utilities. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that it will necessarily cover these costs. 

In many cases, students have to work part-time alongside their studies to support themselves throughout university. 

When to apply for student accommodation 2023 

The deadline for student accommodation applications depends on the university, however many unis have deadlines well in advance of the course starting date. 

Usually, you’ll be expected to have submitted your uni accommodation application by early to mid August. 

Something worth noting is that universities often allocate accommodation on a first-come-first-served basis, so try to get your applications in ASAP!

How to apply for student accommodation


Applying for student accommodation can be a relatively straightforward process, with UCAS having a specific search function which allows you to browse the different types of accommodation provided by each university across the country. 

Your university website will also have descriptions of each type of accommodation available, including its location, distance from campus, whether bathrooms are communal or en-suite etc. and how much weekly or monthly rent will be, helping you to make an informed decision on where you’d like to live. 

Here are some top tips to consider before applying for uni accommodation… 

1. Research your options

Before you dive into the application process, take some time to research the various student accommodation options available to you. Most universities offer a range of choices, including halls of residence, apartments and shared houses. Consider factors such as location, budget, amenities, and the distance from your campus. This will help you to narrow down your options and make an informed decision.

2. Make a note of application deadlines

Universities have specific deadlines for student accommodation applications - usually early to mid August each year - and missing these deadlines could limit your choices or even leave you without a place to stay. Make sure to check your university's application deadlines and submit yours on time.


3. Gather relevant documents

Before you begin the application process, it's a good idea to gather some documents that are often required - such as your acceptance letter, student ID, proof of identity, and potential evidence for any special accommodation requests you might have. Having these documents ready will save you time and make the application process a breeze!

5. Check accommodation costs

Evaluate your personal budget and make sure to consider this when weighing up which student accommodation you're going to apply for. The cost of accommodation can vary quite significantly depending on the location, amenities and whether it is inclusive of bills and utilities. It's definitely a good idea to establish your budget and choose accommodation that aligns with this.

6. Complete the application

Your university will likely have its own unique application process for student accommodation, however this usually involves logging into the university's online portal and filling out an application form, providing any required documents and personal information along with any preferences you may have such as whether you'd prefer communal or ensuite bathrooms etc.

7. Consider special accommodation needs

If you have special accommodation needs due to medical or other reasons, be sure to communicate these to the university. Many offer accessible and inclusive housing options to cater to students' diverse needs.

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