Questions to ask at an Open Day

One of the biggest parts of your University experience is living away from home. Usually, first-year undergraduate students will live in student accommodation, commonly known as ‘Halls’. Open days are the perfect opportunity for you to ask questions on anything from location to cost, and to scope out which accommodation is right for you...
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Some good questions to ask could be:

What’s included in the rent?

One of the main factors you’ll want to consider is how much money you want to spend on your accommodation. It’s important to understand what is and isn’t included in the rent price, such as TV licence, insurance and WiFi for example. Don’t forget to ask about utilities too (Gas, electric, water etc), and look out for any fair usage caps in the contract. Some (mainly university provided) may include some catering.

Many halls will also provide free or subsidised social programmes and events (sometimes known as Residence Life) and these are a great way to get settled and meet other students.

Are there Halls for specific groups of students?

Some Universities and Private Providers may have specific accommodation buildings - or flats within accommodation - designated for specific groups of students, for example (but not limited to):

  • LGBTQIA+ specific flats/accommodation or single gender
  • Flats for students based on religious group
  • Quiet flats – this doesn’t mean total silence! It just means that the accommodation offers quieter living and working spaces

Student accommodation buildings vary in size, housing anywhere from 20 to 900+ students, so if you have a preference on the number of students you’ll be living with, make sure to ask about this at the Open Day before making any decisions.

When applying for accommodation, Universities will usually have a small questionnaire as part of the application process, where you can specify what sort of flat or accommodation is the best fit for you. It’s important to remember the University won’t allocate you into halls based on specific characteristics unless you ask/request it.

Where is the accommodation located?

When making a decision about where to live for your first year of University, it’s a good idea to consider what you want from where you halls is located, some factors to consider are:

  • Do you want close to campus, or good public transport links?
  • How close is the accommodation to nightlife, the supermarket, and other social activities
  • Is there parking, and will this affect whether you can bring a vehicle to University?

It’s also worth considering speaking to student ambassadors during the Open Day - these students will have experience of living in your prospective University city, so make sure to ask their opinion on some accommodation or areas you are considering living in. Many Universities also operate campus tours on Open Days, including tours of accommodation, so make sure to take advantage of these.

Often the accommodation closest to campus is more expensive, so if cost is a concern, being prepared to travel a little further could save you money.

Who operates my Accommodation – The University or a Private Provider?

Some Universities operate their own accommodation, however many work in partnership with local private accommodation providers, and may refer or allocate you into their accommodation. If you want to find out more information on any potential private providers you will be living is, ask the University who owns the accommodation, and then feel free to have a look around on their website and check out the terms and conditions. More information about Private Accommodation Providers can be found on the National Code Website.

It’s also important to remember:

Write things down – Make sure you take plenty of notes using pen & paper or on your phone, it will help you remember important key points that will assist in making your decisions on accommodation.

Don’t panic – Choosing accommodation can be daunting, but there is help and guidance if you need it in making the decision.

Think about your budget – consider what the annual rent is, not just the weekly cost, and compare this to your budget.