Handbook

For Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows
in the United Kingdom

Accommodation

Arranging Accommodation

You will need to arrange accommodation for the duration of your scholarship in the UK. Whilst your university may be able to support you in finding accommodation, it is your responsibility to make the necessary arrangements to ensure you have a suitable place to live.

Please note, the CSC does not have a supply of accommodation anywhere in the UK.

Before you arrive in the UK, we recommend you contact the accommodation office at your university as early as possible to get advice about finding accommodation in the UK region where you will be living.

It’s worth remembering that your stipend will be paid from the first day of your award, as stated on your Notification of Award, or the day that you arrive in the UK, whichever is later. As such, you should arrange your travel and accommodation to ensure that you do not pay for accommodation before you arrive in the UK.

For general advice on the types of accommodation available in the UK, application procedures, and useful links to short-term accommodation, visit the UKCISA page on Planning your housing and the Study UK website.

If you accept university residential accommodation, you will usually have to stay there for one academic year. Since this type of accommodation is in high demand, you may have to live in private rented accommodation instead. If your university is unable to offer you accommodation, or if you want to live in private rented accommodation, the accommodation office at your university should be able to provide a list of recommended private landlords or agencies.

You are strongly advised not to sign any contract for private accommodation without first viewing the accommodation to assess its suitability. Any signed contract is legally binding, so you should always check the terms and conditions carefully before signing. You should also check that you are able to afford the accommodation, based on your monthly stipend, before signing any contract.

Many universities or host institutions can provide or offer advice about accommodation suitable for disabled students, or they may adapt accommodation to meet your individual needs. If you require accessible or adapted accommodation, we recommend that you contact your university or host institution to discuss your requirements as soon as possible.

You may have to think carefully about where intend to live during your scholarship and weigh up the cost of accommodation versus the cost of travel to your university. If you are planning to rent accommodation which is a significant distance from your university (for example, in London, over 15 miles away), then you must first consult your academic supervisor and notify your Programme Officer.

Your university might have a policy which requires you to live within a certain distance of your place of study, and this may be part of their visa compliance responsibilities, so please also check with an international student adviser at your university. Living an unreasonable distance from your university is likely to have an impact on your attendance and participation in university activities, and it may affect your stipend rate.

You can also find out about other available support on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Accommodation contracts and changing accommodation

If you decide to leave your accommodation before the end of your contract, you will be personally liable for any fees and outstanding costs.

If you need any further advice about your accommodation rights and responsibilities then there is some information on the Citizens Advice Bureau’s website and the specialist housing charity, Shelter, have a free phoneline.

You must inform your Programme Officer immediately of any change of address, whether temporary or permanent, during your scholarship.

Family Accommodation

If you are planning for your family to join you in the UK during your scholarship you should be aware that rented accommodation suitable for families is scarce and in high demand in most university towns. You may have to spend some time in temporary accommodation before securing suitable long-term family accommodation. Please do not to bring your family to join you in the UK until you have arranged suitable long-term accommodation.

Accommodation Deposits

The CSC is unable to reserve or pay a deposit for any accommodation on your behalf before you arrive in the UK. Your Programme Officer is also unable to act as a referee or guarantor for you in any application for accommodation.

If you have been offered university accommodation that requires a deposit to secure the accommodation before arrival, your Programme Officer may be able to provide a deposit deferral letter once your scholarship has been confirmed, provided that your university will accept this. You would still need to pay the deposit once you have taken up the accommodation. In this situation, your university would advise you on the timeframe for paying the deposit amount. Unfortunately, it is very unusual for private landlords to accept this type of letter.

If you need to make a substantial rental payment to secure your accommodation (e.g. six months), the CSC may be able to arrange an advance of your stipend after you have arrived in the UK. To apply for an advance of your stipend, you must forward the stipend advance form and your rental agreement to your Programme Officer for review. The rental agreement should be for the full academic year and must clearly state the period for which the agreement applies and the schedule of all rental payments you will need to make during that year. If this is approved, your Programme Officer will send you a repayment plan, which you must sign before the stipend advance is released.