In this article you will find useful information about the things you need to do before you arrive at university, such as arranging your accommodation, opening a bank and organising the things you need to bring with you.

Background

You have got a place at University! Now what? Once you have had an offer of a place at university, you have applied for the student fees and maintenance loan and Disability Students’ Allowance (DSA), the first thing to think about is where you would like to live. If you decide that you want to live away from home, your chosen university typically offers a variety of accommodation options suited to different budgets, the number of people you would like to share with and your lifestyle preferences.

As you spend a lot of time, and money, in your accommodation, it is important that you make the right choice for you. You may be sharing facilities such as a kitchen and social spaces with your flatmates. Everybody has their own way of living, socialising and tolerance for cleanliness (or lack of) and noise levels.

Other things to consider are what to take with you and how can you best prepare to ensure you have a good start.

How could this affect me?

Issues arising with sharing accommodation can be a source of conflict among students so it is important that you find what is most suitable for you. It is difficult to know what may be right for you, but autistic students have advised us on what they liked and didn’t like about their accommodation. A few of the things they raised that are important to consider relate to the size of rooms, noise levels, distance to shops, availability of quiet spaces and the study choices and maturity of fellow tenants.

Rent is the largest expense you will have so it is important that you consider carefully how much you can spend and consider attending tours of accommodation available at all Open Days and Applicant Days. Accommodation is allocated on a first come, first served basis and so it is a good idea to apply as early as possible and make the Accommodation Team aware of any specific requirements you may have.

A source of worry in the first few weeks is having to spend a sizeable amount of money, and time, buying items that you may have forgotten to pack, or arranging a bank account and other practical matters. This may get in the way of enjoying Fresher’s week to the full. More importantly, overspending in the first few weeks can lead to struggling later on with finding money for key items related to your course or basic living expenses (e.g. food), so it is important that everything is in place to help with a smooth transition.

Finally, the transition to University may be stressful especially for people that are already experiencing mental health difficulties, so it is important that you spend some time before you arrive trying to alleviate some of these issues. Arrange a visit with your GP to discuss options (e.g., medication, learning meditation skills, and so on).

What to do next?

Find out about the accommodation options available.

Practical tips

  • You can live in Halls of Residence or in shared and/or private accommodation. Whichever type of accommodation or location you decide on, we've got plenty of information and support that you can find out about in our accommodation pages.
  • If you decide on living in Halls of Residence, consider contacting the Residence Life team to discuss any support you may need to be in place on arrival
  • If you take any medication, make sure you bring enough supplies to cover you over the first few weeks until you register with a GP locally.
  • Open a student bank account and make sure you shop around before you decide on one.
  • Learn to cook before you arrive, eating healthily is cheap
  • Familiarise yourself with managing bills, how to pay them and which are the best providers.
  • Pack some smart clothes, you may need them to attend formal events or interviews.
  • Make a checklist of things you may need. 
  • Join the University's applicant Facebook group, to meet other new students and hear from Welcome Ambassadors - current students who share their tips for settling in well.

Questions to think about

Before you arrive and make a decision on accommodation you may want to think about the following:

  • whether you want to live in a lively place in the city centre, or if you would prefer a quieter location outside of the city
  • whether you want accommodation that offers its own social calendar
  • whether you need an en-suite room
  • whether you want to be close to the University campus
  • how you will get to University - will you walk, cycle, travel by public transport?
  • how many people you would be comfortable sharing with
  • whether you know what household items your accommodation offers and what you will need to buy/bring
  • whether there is anything you can do to improve your mental health before the transition

Additional information and links

For those starting at the University of Portsmouth, please visit our accommodation pages. For those already registered, you can find information and advice on MyPort that will help you with your decision on what type of accommodation will work for you.

You may also want to visit the UoP Student Union website which offers very useful advice.

You may want to read


This toolkit is an adaptation of the Autism&Uni project led by Marc Fabri from Leeds Beckett University, under license CC BY 4.0. The original Autism&Uni project was funded with support from the European Commission with partners in the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. For more information about this project please visit the Autism&Uni website.

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