24th July 2003
GET SET FOR A NEW LIFE AT UNIVERSITY
Your A-levels are out of the way and a new life at university is on the horizon. But the choices and decisions that lie ahead can be daunting. Where do you start making plans for that first term away from home?
Cate Byrnes, Deputy President (Education and Welfare) of the University of Lincoln Student Union Co-operative can give you a few pointers…
Now that you’ve got yourself on a university course, the next step is finding somewhere to stay when you get there. Most universities will guarantee that all first-year students have somewhere suitable to live, in halls of residence, university-owned accommodation or university-approved accommodation.
The university usually has a department that deals with all aspects of accommodation, from broken door handles to lists of reputable landlords. You should make them your first port of call.
The accommodation office will be able to tell you if rooms are still available in halls of residence. If the answer is yes, all you have to do is complete some forms and provide a deposit, which is usually refundable at the end of the academic year. The office will advise you of the best way to claim your deposit back. This will involve behaving yourself and looking after your accommodation, so no setting off the fire alarm when you’re cooking at two in the morning, and certainly no trashing of furniture while playing truth or dare!
If the halls of residence are full most universities can provide an up-to-date list of landlords in the local area who provide rented accommodation for students. This accommodation is thoroughly inspected and reviewed on a regular basis, so you know that you are living somewhere decent!
It will be necessary for you to contact the landlords to check availability, as existing students will already occupy some of the rooms. If there are rooms available, they will arrange an appointment to meet you and show you the available accommodation.
This type of accommodation is mostly on a house-share basis, where you will rent a bedroom and share kitchen and living quarters. Unlike halls of residence, private rented property comes in two sectors, rent inclusive of bills and rent exclusive of bills.
Rent inclusive of bills varies from landlord to landlord, but it generally means that gas, electricity and water bills are included in the price. This is worth checking, as you can be stung for payments, especially when the housemate from hell refuses to pay his share and you then need a campfire to cook your beans on! So at this point read and re-read your contract so that you know exactly what you are paying for and if any furnishings are included. Ninety-nine per cent of all private rented accommodation includes basic furnishing, but stuff like pots, pans and kitchen utensils you need to supply yourself.
Be warned! All of your housemates will turn up with a kettle and a toaster, but no one thinks of the essential bottle opener!
University life is one that suits almost everyone, especially those of you who can’t wait to leave the parental nest and live totally independently. University offers the three main aspects of student life - the academic, sporting and social aspects - allowing you to work hard and play hard.
The Students’ Union will organise a fair amount of the entertainment in and around the university, but it also plays an important part in sport, education and welfare issues. So if you need advice on any matter then pop in to your Students’ Union office and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Even though you come to university to learn, other valuable information can be learned outside the lecture rooms. Go wild, participate in all activities, check out the talent and above all make loads of new friends. University is about doing all of this and learning in a safe environment, so make sure that you can still tell the taxi driver where you live after ten pints, eat more than kebabs and manage to make it to those nasty nine o’clock lectures. Enjoy yourself, good luck at university, and remember that there is always someone to help you should you get into a sticky situation - all you have to do is ask!
Deputy President (Education and Welfare)
University of Lincoln Student Union Co-operative