Essentials: accommodation and security
It is a big step when your children leave home for the first time, for you and for them – especially if they move straight out of high school to study several hours away from home.
The good news is that there are lots of accommodation options available and your children may be able to access government assistance for rent and relocation expenses.
A variety of housing options exist for students wanting all kinds of living arrangements. Some like the collegiality and convenience of on-campus residences, others want the independence and privacy of off-campus rentals or like to live close to campus in a share-house with friends.
Some students live at home and commute to the campus and others might study online or in blocks, travelling to the university or TAFE only occasionally. Students can find the place they want if they do a bit of research and ask their institution for some guidance.
Most institutions offer on-campus accommodation for at least first-year students – and that can be a good choice when your child is adjusting to university life. On-campus accommodation is often in a hall of residence or a college.
- Living on campus gives the students the opportunity to be close to their classes and resources such as libraries while they get used to navigating a new town or city.
- On-campus accommodation is usually supervised by live-in staff who can direct the students to the institution’s support services.
- Colleges and residences exist for different kinds of social groups, including religions. They offer different kinds of experiences with varying levels of independence, such as fully catered and self-catered options.
- Students can live with others who are in the same situation and can take part in the college’s social and sporting activities, so they can make friends easily.
Student accommodation is usually made up of small single bedrooms within a secure apartment-type complex with shared kitchen, lounge and bathrooms. Students can also eat meals in the college canteen and save money by not having to pay for transport to classes.
Many institutions also have self-contained apartments, either on campus or nearby. These don’t offer the same social experience, but can be a convenient option for those wanting more independence or a quieter place away from the residential social scene.
On-campus accommodation places are limited so you should apply on the institutions’ website as soon as your child has received a letter of offer for his or her chosen course.
Living off-campus can be quite private and quiet, and staying with a local resident can be a good option. Often some meals are provided and gas, water and electricity bills are included in the cost.
Usually the university or TAFE will have a database of people who have been approved to offer this kind of accommodation to students. You can contact student services at the institution to find out more.
Your child might like to live alone in a small place or share accommodation with others in a house or flat. While offering the most independence, this may be the most expensive option because costs such as electricity and water need to be paid in addition to the rent.
If private renting is the only – or most appealing – option, then try to find somewhere that is close to the campus or public transport. If sharing, make sure your child feels comfortable with the other people in the rental. Institutions often have a database of places for students to rent nearby and you or your child can contact student services at the institution to find out more.
Universities and other higher education institutions take the security of their students very seriously. Campuses have a number of measures in place to maximise safety, including:
- 24-hour campus patrols by security guards
- emergency help points located around the campus
- security escort services for students walking between campus locations at night
- campus shuttle buses for long travel distances between campuses or to public transport
- CCTV cameras around the campus
- security hotlines
On-campus accommodation operates by secure entry only and residences usually have live-in managers on-site 24 hours a day.
It is in the interests of all institutions to ensure that their students and staff are safe on campus at all times. Students are given security briefings as part of their orientation and staff are issued with security passes. You can find out about the individual security measures an institution takes on its website or speak with student services about any concerns you may have.