Ann Lodge, joint chief executive at Downing Students, one of the UK’s biggest student accommodation providers, has some tips for students facing the prospect of going through clearing.
She said: “For students who are going through clearing, this can be a very stressful time and may mean that they’ll will have to begin their search for student accommodation now. As one of the UK’s biggest student accommodation developers and managers of student accommodation, we see students in this position every year and the most important piece of advice I’d offer them is to keep calm and don’t panic!
“We encourage our residents to make the most of the whole student experience and finding the right accommodation is hugely important. While students going through clearing may feel they are running out of time and they have to rush their decision, there are a few key factors to think of when looking for your first student digs.”
Our top tips for students who’re looking for last-minute accommodation are:
• Try to opt for an experienced, reputable student accommodation provider. This will means you’re more likely to end up with a pleasant, fit-for-purpose living space which has been specifically chosen for its proximity to transport links, university campuses, and city centres. Go to your university’s website and look at the accommodation section, universities like to work with private providers like ourselves as they know we will be a safe pair of hands.
• If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Using sites like Craiglist may seem like an obvious solution when you’re searching last minute, but it’s easy to be taken in by adverts which don’t deliver what they promise, so remember to keep your wits about you and never hand over a deposit without having a watertight legal contract in place.
• Location is important. As well as being more safe and convenient, it is nearly always more cost effective to live close to campus; higher rentals in central locations are almost always offset by the cost of travel on cold winter days and nights out.
• Social media is a great way for students to get to know each other before they arrive – especially if they have gone through Clearing and feel that everything is last minute. Downing Students also always has lots of social events on site that encourage students to mix and make friends.
• Students do change their minds about going to university due to family and personal circumstances, so if you’ve got your eye on a great place, but it’s full for the academic year, it’s worth keeping in touch with the accommodation provider and asking if you can be added to their waiting list.
• Opting for managed accommodation is also an option I would recommend, particularly for students who are living away from home for the first time. I cannot overstate the importance and the benefits which pastoral care brings. Downing Students is so focused on delivering in this area that we employ experienced on site management teams and our Hall of Residence managers are on-site, accessible and understand the pressures young, inexperienced adults face, living away from home. Our management teams are able to offer brilliant pastoral and practical care, on everything from blocked drains and panic attacks to stolen milk.