Time to prepare for Uni

Heading off to university for the first time is exciting, but in all that excitement it's easy to neglect some of the really important, practical stuff you need to sort out.

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Many first-year students – or freshers – spend hours thinking about what outfit to wear on the first day, they are likely to give less consideration to which insurance policy will best protect their gadgets and other possessions.

So what are the practical matters every first-time student should get to grips with before the start of term in October?

The list is long: accommodation, bank account, insurance, broadband…

But the first thing has got to be where you're going to live.

Choosing accommodation

Many freshers choose to spend their first year at university in halls of residence.

It’s one of the best ways to meet lots of new people in one go, and it can be a stepping-stone between the family home and moving into a rented flat or house.

Most halls are also reasonably priced – a big consideration given the high cost of going to university these days.

If you get into your first choice of university, it will probably have already reserved a space in halls for you.

But if you have decided to accept a place at your second choice, or had to go through the clearing process, it’s worth checking availability straight away.

Getting in early is the best way to get the halls of your choice.

The other alternative is to find rented accommodation close to where the university is situated.

Your uni should be able to help you find a shared house, while property websites such as Rightmove also have student accommodation sections.

Advantages of this approach include greater privacy and, in some instances, lower rent.

Choosing a bank account

Most of the banks offer student accounts, many of which come complete with credit cards and a raft of incentives such as money off cinema tickets or travel.

But when choosing a student account, the biggest consideration should be the size of the interest-free overdraft you can get – and the terms and conditions for repaying it once you have graduated.

After all, it can now cost more than £30,000 to complete a three-year degree course – which means few students make it through their entire time at university without slipping into the red.

Whichever account you choose, you will need your official confirmation letter from UCAS – the AS12 letter – to apply, so remember to keep this safe.

You can read a full breakdown of the student accounts on offer this year in Rachel’s article.

Choosing insurance

Thieves often target student accommodation because they know they are likely to find several computers, laptops and televisions in one property.

So it makes sense to check that your possessions are properly protected with a comprehensive contents insurance policy.

Some insurers will allow parents to add students to their own home insurance.
But the cover on offer is often restricted, meaning it can prove wiser – and sometimes cheaper – for students to take out a separate policy.

Things to check when choosing a policy include that the claim limit is high enough to allow you to replace your belongings and that all your valuables – for example your bike – are covered.

So check what’s known as the ‘single item limit’. This is the maximum you can claim for any one thing – perhaps £1,000 – unless you provide details of it to the insurer.

It is also worth adding personal possessions cover to protect your stuff when you are out and about.

Either way, all students should have their own contents policies, rather than a single policy covering a shared property.

If you share rented accommodation, the landlord should have their own insurance for the buildings and for their furniture, fixtures and fittings.

it can now cost more than £30,000 to complete a three-year degree course - which means few students make it through their entire time at university without slipping into the red

Choosing car insurance

Many students get by without a car, but if you want to take one to university, you have to have the correct insurance in place.

If you already have car insurance registered at your family home, you should call your insurer and find out how changing the address to your student accommodation will affect your premium.

It may well make the policy more expensive, but there is no point lying about your home address as this could invalidate any claims you have to make.

Trying to save money by claiming a parent or older sibling is the main driver is also a bad move.

Not only could this invalidate any future claims, it could also lead to you facing criminal charges for driving without insurance.

You can, however, look into telematics or black box policies that reward safer drivers with lower premiums.

If you choose to leave your car at home while you are at uni, it is also worth considering temporary car insurance that only charges you for the weeks or months you use the car.

You can find out all about these points, and get a competitive quote, on our car insurance pages.

Choosing a broadband deal

If you live in halls, you are likely to have broadband access in the building.

However, if you live in rented accommodation, you will need a broadband contract.

Student broadband deals, some of which include free calls, are available from a range of providers such as Sky, BT and TalkTalk.

A major consideration is how many people will be living with you and using the connection.

If you are going to be lots of people sharing the signal, it may be worth going for a superfast, fibre optic connection, if one is available.

Know someone heading off to uni who could use these tips? Click here to email this page to them.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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