We’ve all been hearing about (or living) the experience of those impacted by the student housing crisis. There have been stories of long commutes, cramped hostels and unaffordable rents haunting us. We’re here to explain exactly what has caused it, and what can help. 

Why is there a student housing crisis?

Everything you need to know about the student housing crisis!
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Amit Singh (founder of UniAcco) sums up the crisis in the following words: ‘a combination of global financial crises, including the skyrocketing energy prices and rental prices, along with internal policy changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic have collectively caused the housing crisis’.

Indeed, this year universities have had a bigger influx of students, leading to less available accommodation. The universities might be equipped to deal with the extra students when it comes to teaching, but some don’t have enough available accommodation for their incoming students. This means that the private sector geared for students is more competitive than usual. More students are jostling for less accommodation. This has impacted international students the most. They often have to apply for accommodation later than home students due to legal reasons. 

Some universities have made do with accommodation in different cities, leading to long commutes. It is not ideal, and can feel very disorganised and disheartening as a new student.

Unfortunately, the housing market has seen mortgages and prices increase with no sign of relenting. This has in turn has also affected rent prices, leading to unaffordable housing options for many students. It also affects the amount of accommodation some universities buy. 

It is a sh*tty combination of reasons, that really boil down to the fact that universities working as business models, our housing market, and our current economy for living, doesn’t work. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope in making the best of the year, so read on for some tips to avoid getting lost in the crisis!

Tips for finding Student accommodation 

Look early

It is never too early to start looking for accommodation. This is especially true if you are a home student, as you have easier privileges when it comes to navigating the renting market.  Hunting as early as October or November for the following year can get you affordable prices and less stress for when the university workload starts picking up. Of course, you may be unsure about your circumstances the next year. You could be undertaking a postgraduate degree, or having to go through clearing and going to a different city. In that situation, the moment an offer is confirmed, start hunting – don’t delay!

If you are an international student, start preparing as you apply to universities. Check for any guaranteed accommodation from the university. Also research the available market for renting in the cities you are interested in. Larger cities will often have more landlords and agencies that have less complex contingencies when renting. Most importantly though, start house hunting as soon as you’ve confirmed the offer and paid the tuition fee deposit.

Don’t give up

Often, student housing frees up come November. That may mean commuting the first few months – which can be a tricky and stressful period, but don’t give up! Many realise university isn’t for them and this leads to more available accommodation.

Join Facebook groups

There are plenty of groups that have other students advertising free rooms, or houses. It is a good idea to join some linked to your city or university to keep an eye out for potential available accommodation. Make sure you message individuals, and don’t get disheartened – it can take time. They can also be a source of support and connection with others in similar boats!

Contact the university

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Many universities have emergency accommodation available. This can mean a commute – but it is often better than going through private landlords. If the university can’t offer this, it is worth letting them know you are unable to attend some sessions in person.  Contact your professors for remote alternatives.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself

If you find yourself living far, or without accommodation, don’t let the panic eat up available time to enjoy university life. Whilst you may not be able to get to certain events, try not to miss things like inductions, and daytime welcome sessions. And remember – those first few weeks aren’t your only opportunity to integrate into university life.

For more university advice, check out our articles, like this one for if you’re feeling lonely!

Last Updated on November 14, 2022