Choosing between the different types of student housing
There are several types of accommodation which you can choose from. These include:
University halls – For your first year, university halls are a popular choice and a great opportunity to meet new friends. They tend to be either on campus or within proximity to university buildings.
Private halls – Similar to university halls, these are very sociable places of residence. Private halls may differ in terms of layout, costing, and proximity to university buildings.
Private accommodation – From second year onwards, students usually live in private accommodation (although for some this may be the case for first year also) alongside a group of preferred friends. Private accommodation can vary in cost dependent on many factors such as room size, amenities, location etc. Be mindful that this needs to be organised individually by yourself and/or friends with private landlords.
Living at home – If it is a viable option, you can of course choose to live at home during your studies.
Areas for consideration for living arrangements at university
Universities generally prioritise students with disabilities when allocating places in halls with rooms that are self-contained or have an en-suite, as well as considering ease of travel through proximity to study areas. Other adaptions could include a larger desk or tactile additions to your room, so do make sure you highlight your accessibility requirements when you apply. Remember that bigger accommodation options are usually more expensive.
Consider other options that may be available such as catered living, which usually involves students receiving a pre-paid allowance (this will be included in your total accommodation costs) for food and drinks at specified places to eat. Alternatively, you may prefer a self-catered approach. Many universities have small supermarkets on campus where you will be able to get everyday items, or you may prefer to just shop online instead.
Be sure to notify the university or college if you use a Guide dog as this may have an affect on who you live with and in which location.
Moving in and the orientation process
You may consider moving in early to acquaint yourself with the area and learn the easiest travel routes and the layout of the new accommodation. You can also ask your university and the assessor for your Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) for support with this.
Also speak to your housemates to discuss considerations they could make to ease your day-to-day navigation such as kitchen and fridge shelving locations or returning appliances to original positions to then be easily located.
Check out this handy Moving in Guide for more information on what to remember and prepare for when moving into rented accommodation.
Tips for settling into halls
The following tips are from blind and partially sighted students who were interviewed as part of the VICTAR transitions study.
On ensuring you have an accessible room in university halls:
“Make sure the room is big enough and that you have got enough space at a desk. Don’t be afraid to ask for stuff like extra plug sockets, because I did – in my first year flat, I needed one, so I asked and I got it”.
On negotiating accessibility in the kitchen space with fellow housemates:
“I think I could have probably asked, and they would probably have said yes, but I didn’t. I think in a lot of ways, one thing I have realised is that most of the time you have to ask if you want something, or ask if it’s possible to have something, normally they don’t think to ask.”
Finally, watch Jennie’s story below who talks about her experiences of finding a house off-campus for the second year of her course at the University of Birmingham.
Thomas Pocklington Trust Student Support Community
This online community is for blind and partially sighted students, family and friends, education providers and other staff in the sector. It forms a supportive environment where relevant news, advice, questions and pieces of work can be shared to enable students with visual impairments to get the most out of their time at university.