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Student Accommodation in Scotland
A guest article by Tim Barlow (contact details below)

As the student house hunting season is rapidly approaching, I will be writing a variety of articles to help you through the ins and outs of the accommodation rat race. This article focuses on the various different accommodation options that will usually be available to you and the pros and cons of each option. So without further ado:

1. University/College-owned Accommodation

1.2 Halls of Residence

This is usually the preferred option for first year students. Normally, most people will opt for halls at first and then move out into the private sector for the rest of their university career. Only the strong willed (and often those with a passion for freshers) tend to survive in halls for more than a year. Most people opting for halls will do so in order to meet people. Freshers' activities tend to revolve around them, and not being part of one can make it difficult to make friends.

Standards of accommodation will vary dramatically both within and between Universities. The norm is to get a room to yourself but, in some cases, you may be forced to share. You will usually have to choose between self-catering and catered halls. Catered halls will save you hassle but be prepared for some pretty mediocre food. Self-Catering gives you the freedom to eat when you want and can save money, but be prepared for some pretty mediocre food(?!).

Each hall will typically have an identity based on the type of people it attracts (e.g. sports fanatics, moshers, yahs etc). Alternative prospectuses (or prospecti? - my Latin fails me) will usually provide a good indication of the halls identity and standard of accommodation. Failing that try reading between the lines in the main prospectus.

Be warned, you may not have the option of being able to keep your room over the Christmas and Easter Holidays. This can be a major headache, particularly if you live far away and don't have a car.

Getting a place - Most universities try to guarantee all first years a place in halls and will frequently send you the relevant documentation automatically (but not always). If you gain a place through clearing you may miss the boat so get in touch with your accommodation office at the earliest opportunity. Always make sure that you confirm your place as soon as you know which university you are going to.

1.3 University-owned flats/houses

These are frequently reserved for mature and/or foreign students. They can present quite a cheap option and be in good locations, but as usual there will be exceptions. You will not have to find others to fill the flat as your institution should take on this responsibility (you will also have the added advantage of not being held responsible, should one of your flat-"mates" leave part the way through the year).

This may also be your favoured option if you are looking for somewhere for a short course (a few months or half a year). (If you are looking for a short term let, your accommodation office should be your first port of call)
Getting a place - Contact your accommodation office

This article is courtesy of Tim Barlow. Tim has designed a system to allow students to automatically register property requirements with letting agents as part of a countrywide site specialising in private sector student accommodation.

Tim Barlow
pastures-new (property) ltd
Pastures New Website
tel - 01721 724 884
Private Housing Accommodation