When deciding the types of student accommodation to choose when commencing your study abroad journey, an open day is the best way to get to know a university before joining its student body. You have found the right course you are passionate about and have prepared your UCAS application. Perhaps, you are completing your motivation to study document for a master’s degree or your research proposal for your PhD studies. But before hitting “send”, wait a minute!
Choosing one of the types of student accommodation is one thing, but being informed about your choices is another. Do you want to live in a city or on campus? That decision is equally important before you move to the UK, especially if you are an international student. But there is a catch. When you are immersed in the convenience and community of campus, it is easy to forget how different it is from the buzz of a city.
Selecting the types of student accommodation, whether on campus or in the city, can lead to different experiences for international students, so you should consider this before applying. The general purpose of the visit (which you should do if you can, including virtual visits) is to look at the facilities, talk to tutors, and peek into the student union building.
How to choose from the available types of student accommodation?
Your university choices should reflect your preference for campus or city university accommodation. It is a financial gamble (with the high cost of international fees) to choose a university that does not feel right – even if the course is fantastic.
For example, Tim Strathner, who studied at Imperial College London, had no trouble choosing his university. “Moving to London was all I ever wanted,” he says. “Back in Portland, I had heard many great things about London. Whether or not living in London meant that I would be spending a lot of time on university property didn’t factor into my decision since I knew I would be happy there studying for my engineering master’s degree.”
Whether to live in the city or on campus was equally as crucial to Adedamola Olarewaju, a graduate of a Midlands university. She ensured all five UCAS choices were campus universities based on the quality of the selected courses.
“I wanted the whole university experience and thought it would be an amazing way to meet new people, have a good time, and go to the park,” she says. “I chose my university because it was a nice, quiet location away from the busy city.”
Is there a sense of community in the different types of student accommodation?
You will experience a strong sense of community during your first year in university. Campus students live with other students exclusively, whereas city students live with a much broader group of people not exclusively students.
Living in the city or on campus is worth considering in advance. “I was glad to live on campus in my first year coming from Nigeria since it helped me settle into university,” says Adedamola. “It was nice to be around people who were in the same boat as me and had the same questions. It was refreshing to be around many international students like myself while living on campus.”
As a result of central London’s high cost of living, Tim was forced to move into the suburbs during his second year after initially living two miles away from the university in the city. “I am surprised by the loneliness in such a crowded place like London,” says Tim. “All of a sudden, all my classmates were scattered across London, and meeting friends became difficult because of the commute.”
Can I access amenities if I live on campus away from the city?
This is the case, most likely. Your essentials (such as a library, gym, shops, and bars) might not be within walking distance to your university. This might influence your decision about attending a campus or city university.
When assessing the types of student accommodation, living on campus is good because everything is close at hand, said Adedamola. “My accommodation was just four minutes from the shop, the union bar, the library, and the seminar rooms. I found it to be very convenient for me, especially because I come from Africa and I have never been to the UK before,” she says. “I could go back to my room and cook a meal between lectures. It was super-convenient, and I could save so much money this way.”
Having to account for both travel time and the cost of London facilities was difficult for Tim in London. “The student discounts are always available”, Tim says. “But they are worthless compared to the normal expenses if I was in another city”. For international students on a tight budget, paying attention to the cost of transportation and spending on non-student entertainment is significant.
Where to live on campus?
Your first year will probably be spent living relatively close to your department, whether you attend a campus university or a city university. After moving out of halls of residence, many international students move farther afield, so consider the commute you’re willing to make (and how that compares to rent).
While living on campus in her first year, Adedamola and her flatmates enjoyed the on campus types of student accommodation, having everything at their fingertips. “During the year, we went to many campus events and club nights in town together,” she says. It was so convenient that we could do study sessions in our living room, buy tons of snacks, and go to the library all night.” Accessibility was optimal. “My front door was minutes away from everything I needed, e.g., Sainsbury’s, Boots, Poundland, etc., so I never worried about long trips or commutes.”
After Tim had finished his degree, he moved away from the university, about 5 miles. “The location of living in central London was so convenient for me that I could walk almost everywhere”, he says. “Now I rely on public transportation to go to the store to buy foodstuff.”
It is imperative to consider this – will you enjoy the extra hour commuting on the bus or tram, or would you instead get up, shower, and head straight to class or the library? Although you may live on campus during your first year, most students move off-campus for the rest of their degree, which means you may face an additional commute. The availability of these types of student accommodation is worth considering when deciding on a university.
How do I choose whether to live on campus or in the city?
There are several advantages and disadvantages if you want to live in the city or on campus, when assessing the types of student accommodation. For example, you might consider quick access to facilities as important or accommodation cost as more critical. It all depends on your situation. It is a personal decision when assessing the types of student accommodation to live.
|Living in the City (Pros)||Living in the City (Cons)|
|The entire city is usually close by and easily accessible anytime you want||The cost of living in the city can be expensive|
|You’re around a different mix of people||You most likely need to travel a distance to access the university facilities|
|You do not need your own car||There are not many green spaces in the city|
|There’s always an interesting event/activity happening|
|Living on Campus (Pros)||Living on Campus (Cons)|
|Living on campus is more peace and quieter||You will need to make a real effort needed to explore the city.|
|There are lots of green space around the campus||Your campus may be based out of town and it could be far away from regular transport|
|Everything is in one location – campus||If you have young kids, you may have access to better schools outside of the city|
|There’s often a strong sense of community||Nightlife might be limited|
Which UK universities have a campus?
There are over 50 university campuses in the UK, such as Cardiff University, Aston University, University of Lincoln and University of Sussex. Below is the complete list of UK universities that have campuses, every one of which inspires academic excellence.
- University of Aberystwyth
- Aston University
- Bishop Grosseteste, Lincoln
- Brunel University
- Cardiff University
- De Montfort University
- Edge Hill University
- Edinburgh Napier University (multi-campus)
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- Glyndwr University
- Heriot-Watt University (multi-campus)
- Lancaster University
- Liverpool Hope University
- Liverpool John Moores University
- Loughborough University
- Nottingham Trent University (multi-campus)
- Oxford Brookes University
- Queen Margaret University
- Queen Mary, University of London
- Roehampton University
- Royal Holloway, University of London
- Staffordshire University
- University of Bath
- University of Birmingham
- University of Central Lancashire
- University of Chester
- University of Coventry
- University of Derby
- University of Dundee
- University of East Anglia
- University of Essex
- University of Exeter
- University of Glamorgan
- University of Glasgow
- University of Hertfordshire
- University of Hull
- University of Keele
- University of Kent
- University of Leeds
- University of Lincoln
- University of Liverpool
- University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- University of Nottingham (multi-campus)
- University of Plymouth
- University of Reading (multi-campus)
- University of Southampton (multi-campus)
- University of Saint Mark and Saint John
- University of Stirling
- University of Strathclyde
- University of Surrey
- University of Sussex
- University of Swansea
- University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC)
- University of Wales Trinity St David (UWSTD)
- University of Warwick
- University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE) (multi-campus)
- University of the West of Scotland (UWS)
- University of Winchester
- University of York