Pros and cons of purpose built student accommodation

What are the pros and cons of purpose built student accommodation

This article was written by the Great British Mag editorial team on 10 October, 2019.

If you are leaving home to start university one of the most affordable and popular options is purpose built student accommodation, either run by the university or a private company.

In this article we look at the pros and cons of each option and how you should apply for this kind of accommodation, which is typically referred to as student halls.

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What is a student hall?

This kind of student accommodation is managed by the university or a company. It typically compromises of a private bedroom with communal areas like a kitchen, bathroom or living room. You can also get rooms with an ensuite bathroom.

As a first-year international student, most universities will offer you this type of accommodation. However, be sure to respond by the deadline given to you by the university and be aware that they cannot guarantee you will be given a place in student halls.

University hall accommodation vs private hall accommodation

There are a few major differences between university halls and privately-run student halls, so to help you make your decision we have researched the pros and cons for each.

Pros to a university hall


Cons to a university hall


Living in a university hall can be less expensive than most other options, and all your bills will be included helping you to accurately calculate your expenses.

University halls can get quite noisy, potentially making it difficult to study.

As a first year student you should easily get a place in university halls, which reduces the time and stress of trying to find suitable accommodation.

Since the halls need to accommodate as many students as possible, bedrooms are often quite small. And the university may not own enough accommodation for every student.

Many students build lasting friendships with people they live with in halls.

You will not get to choose who you live with.

University halls may have a designated ‘flat rep’ (usually a third-year student) whose job is to help you with any issues or questions you have about university life.

You will have to share a communal kitchen and in most cases a bathroom too.


Pros to a private hall

Cons to a private hall

The facilities tend to be modern and you might have a gym or laundry service on site


Private halls can be more expensive than a university hall. 


Since the hall is not run by your specific university, you might live with students from universities besides your own. 


Your location could be far away from campus, meaning you might have to budget for commuting. 


You will potentially get more choice in the type of room you get, and there maybe an option for a studio, that has its own kitchen, bathroom and living area. 


If you don’t live on campus, it might be more difficult to participate in university events and make friends on campus. 


How do I sort out student accommodation before university starts?

First work out your budget and then contact the student accommodation team who will be able to tell you what the university can offer and importantly the deadline for when you need to have paid your deposit. Each university has its own deadlines but you should aim to  sort out your accommodation between May and early September.  However, the earlier you apply the more options you will have on location and the kind of room you are offered.

If you want to move into private student halls, ask your university for companies that they work with. Take a look at their websites and choose one that fits your requirements. You will be able to make enquiries and a booking through their website.

What happens if I miss the deadline to apply for student halls?

The best way to know what to do if you miss your university’s student accommodation deadline is to check with your university. You will be told which department to contact for questions about arranging accommodation.  The likelihood is that you will be put on a waiting list, so it is advisable you have a plan B, such as renting a room room in a flat or house nearby or finding which companies provide student accommodation near to your university.

Can the university provide accommodation for a family?

If you’re an international student on a Student Visa, you may be eligible to bring your family with you. 

If you’d like to live with your family in student accommodation, it’s best to check your university’s website for more information as some universities have accommodation suitable for families. This kind of accommodation will be limited so apply early. 

Do some student accommodations include meals? 

Yes, some student halls have the option of choosing accommodation that’s catered, which means there’s a dining hall or communal area serving food at scheduled times, such as breakfast and dinner (which is the last meal of the day).

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