Applying for accommodation

Here’s a list of questions we’re often asked by students who’d like to live in university accommodation.




If you've got any other questions, please contact us.

Who can apply for accommodation?

Full-time first year students, and full-time students who are care leavers or have a medical requirement regardless of their year of study.

Most accommodation is for students aged 18 or over. Students under the age of 18 can book to live in Sedley Court or the YMCA. If you’ll turn 18 within three months of the start of your tenancy agreement, you can book to live at the Railyard, but you’ll need to contact us rather than apply online.

There is no university accommodation available for students who will be under 18 when they start their course at the Chelmsford campus - contact us for help and advice.

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When can I apply for accommodation?

If you're starting university in September 2022, online bookings will open on 22 February 2022.

For returning students or students with a medical requirement, please see questions below.

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How do I apply?

For most students studying in Cambridge and Chelmsford, there are two easy steps once you’ve selected ARU as your first-choice university (not insurance choice), and firmly accept a conditional or unconditional offer to study a full-time course with us:

  • make sure you've read about accommodation options at your campus
  • apply online

Full instructions about logging in and how to book a room are available on our online portal. During the booking you will be asked to confirm the terms of yourtenancy agreement. You can start an application and log back in another time.

There are a few exceptions:

If you need any help, contact the Residential Service.

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Will I definitely get accommodation?

We allocate accommodation on a first come first served basis, so we recommend applying as soon as you’ve firmly accepted a conditional or unconditional offer from us. Explore your options in Cambridge and Chelmsford.

We'll also help you to find private rented accommodation if you can't book a room through ARU.

If you want further support in finding the right option for you, whether on campus or in the private sector, please contact our accommodation team.

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Can I choose where I live?

Have a look at the properties available in Cambridge and Chelmsford, then when you apply online you can tell us where you'd like to live.

We don’t ask students to simply tell us their preferences. As long as you make any required payments within the given timescales, a room in that property will be yours.

In Cambridge we have a lot of accommodation options. Start to narrow down your search by thinking about whether you'd mind sharing a bathroom or would prefer an en suite shower room, and how far you're willing to walk to lectures. Then, once you’ve got a shortlist, look at the prices, photos and videos to help you choose. Still not sure? Get in touch with our Residential Service to talk it through.

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Can I choose who I live with?

When applying online you can select which property you’d like to live in – and in some cases you can pick your exact room. If you’re able to pick an exact room, you’ll be able to see some basic information about the other people you’ll be living with, such as their interests, lifestyle, gender and age.

ARU is home to students from all over the UK and the world, so you’ll live with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. All our accommodation is interfaith, mixed gender and mostly single occupancy (a small number of twin and double rooms are available in certain halls).

If you require food preparation areas that are meat free or free from food allergens, consider booking a studio apartment so you can have your own kitchen. Alternatively, you could look to rent privately. We can help you with this.

If you know someone who’s going to be an ARU student and is eligible for accommodation, you may be able to book accommodation in the same property. In some properties you can pick your own bedroom, so you could even make sure you’d be neighbours.

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Can I stay for my second year?

Most of our students only live in University accommodation for a maximum of one academic year. We make a small number of rooms available for students wishing to return, and we'll email you about this.

If you’re a care leaver or you have a medical condition or disability, you can apply to live in University accommodation for the full length of your degree course.

If you're thinking about moving out, we offer help with renting in the private sector.

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I'm already studying at ARU. Can I apply?

If you’re looking for a room, contact us to find out what we have available or check studentpad.

If we’ve got rooms available for continuing students for the next academic year, we’ll send an email to all eligible students in early January. We can also offer lots of help on renting in the private sector.

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Why can't I apply for a room through ARU?

There are a few different reasons:

  • our accommodation was already full at the time you applied
  • ARU is listed as your 'insurance choice' university
  • you accepted your offer less than 24 hours ago – wait until 24 hours has passed and try logging in again
  • you’re planning to study part-time
  • you’ve lived in our student accommodation before
  • you’re under the age of 18 on the date you start your course; please contact us to book a room
  • you're looking for family accommodation or a property that accepts pets, which we're unable to offer

You can read more details in our Allocations policy.

Allocations policy

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What alternative options are there?

Go to our private rented accommodation page for help with safely searching for a room, finding temporary accommodation and other useful information about private renting.

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I'll be doing a placement. What accommodation should I choose?

If you'll be doing a placement as part of your course, we recommend asking your faculty where placements are likely to be. You can then apply for suitable accommodation.

If you’re going to be studying nursing, midwifery or operating department practice, you can live in University accommodation or you may also have the option to apply for NHS hospital accommodation. Often this will mean you’ll be living closer to placements and with students on similar courses. Hospitals can usually offer contracts that fit with your course dates.

If you choose accommodation where your tenancy dates are shorter than your course dates, contact us to find out about accommodation that's available during the summer.

We can’t accept cancellations or requests to vacate University accommodation if you decide you want to live closer to your placement.

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What options are available if my course runs beyond June?

Subject to availability, some University accommodation is available over the summer. You may need to move rooms. NHS accommodation may also be available over the summer for students with hospital placements.

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