We’ve been hearing from you that some students have been holding off signing accommodation agreements until it’s more certain what university (and life in general) will look like in September and onwards. However, as lockdown restrictions lift this week it feels like we have turned a corner in the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK, so does that mean now is the time to book your accommodation for next year?
Unfortunately, there is no quick answer to this, and the decision will be different for everyone. So, to know if your answer should be yes, we’d recommend you find out four things before signing anything:
- Do I plan to return to Canterbury/Medway to study next year?
- Am I better booking off-campus or on-campus accommodation?
- What has my accommodation supplier done for students this year during the pandemic?
- What plans does my accommodation supplier have in place should we be in a similar situation in the future?
Do I plan to return to Canterbury/Medway to study?
The University has announced that all students will have face-to-face teaching as part of a blended learning experience for the Autumn 2021 term as we transition towards a normal Spring term in 2022 and everyone here at Kent is getting ready to open our campuses and is looking forward to welcoming you back.
The amount of face-to-face versus virtual teaching time will vary from course to course, and you may not know yet what this will look like for you before your school gets in touch with their plans in June. Either way, you should start thinking now about what would be the right circumstances for you to live in Canterbury/Medway rather than commute to campus for your face-to-face teaching so that you can be prepared.
Of course, your university experience is made up of more than teaching, so also factor in what your whole student experience will be like on campus with other facilities which will be open to you (such as the library, student support and wellbeing and living with other students and friends rather than your family).
On our campuses there will be plenty of opportunities to make the most of our beautiful spaces and meet with other students, with a range of creative events, activities and ways to get together. Plus our venues, bars and cafes will be open, following any safety guidance that is relevant at the time.
Once you have a clear idea of your requirements, you’ll be closer to knowing whether you’re planning on coming back to campus or not and establish your accommodation needs.
Am I better booking off-campus or on-campus accommodation?
We can’t answer this one for you, as a preference for living on or off-campus will depend upon your circumstances. What we can tell you is why we believe that living on-campus is a great choice, about what we have in place to support students living in our campus accommodation and what you should look for if you’re looking off-campus, so keep reading…
What has my accommodation provider done for students this year during the pandemic?
We have given students who were unable to occupy their Canterbury campus accommodation a total of ten weeks rent reduction this year, plus a two-week free extension for contracts that were due to finish on 19 June 2021. In Medway, Unite Students ran their own rent reduction scheme for students residing in Pier Quays, which also included a free extension to contracts finishing in the summer term.
We have also had a dedicated team in place working 7 days a week to specifically support students on campus who needed to self-isolate, or arrived from overseas and needed to quarantine. Any student self-isolating on campus have been given a care pack of goodies to help them through, and we have student helpers employed to ensure that isolating students are able to get the essentials that they need.
If you’re looking at off-campus accommodation you should look out for similar things with your landlord or accommodation provider. You should be asking – did they offer any refund or monetary support to their tenants this year? And did they support their tenants?
What plans does my accommodation provider have in place should we be in a similar situation?
Everyone should learn from experience so what are we doing? Well, the University has committed to continue to give consideration to what concessions (such as rent reductions, accommodation agreement extensions and releases from accommodation agreements) may be appropriate in similar situations in the future. We’re also continuing to offer self-isolation support with our team, match your contract start and end dates to the University’s academic registration period meaning no extra summer months are included, require no accommodation deposits to secure a room and you are free to cancel or amend any accommodation application with us up until you accept a room offer.
So if you’re looking off-campus, find out how your provider treated their residents last year and look after yourself – find out what is their cancellation policy, is your deposit refundable, and can you leave early? You should also take a look at our Living Off-campus Guide for more general advice.
Find out the answer to all these before putting your name on the dotted line whether it’s with us or someone else.
If you’re still uncertain, you might choose to wait a little longer until you’ve heard from your school and the University in June before you apply. We still have accommodation available for new and returning students. As well as the above measures don’t forget our accommodation includes all utility bills, Wi-Fi, personal contents insurance and a free sports membership which off-campus providers often do not include. Plus, if you are a new UG or PG student then you have until the 31 July 2021 to apply for accommodation and receive a guaranteed room offer from us.