Information for parents and carers of undergraduate students
The transition to University study can be stressful and confusing for parents and students alike. Here we aim to answer as many of your questions about the accommodation process, and our video gives you an insight into the support and pastoral care that's available for all students in our residences.
Confidentiality and data protection
Our confidentiality policy (PDF, 29kB) recognises our students as independent adults. We therefore require student consent to talk to anyone outside the University about them, including parents and guardians.
When a student applies for accommodation they are given the option of ticking a box agreeing to share information with parents or guardians. If this box is ticked we can discuss their application with you until the student moves in. Please note however that we cannot make changes without instructions from the student, and we we will always ask you a few security questions to verify your identity.
Once a student’s tenancy has started the University's confidentiality policy means that we are not able to discuss any aspect of the students living situation with you without the student’s written permission. This can be given as an email from them to email@example.com, that states that they are happy for us to talk to a named person, and includes their name and student number.
If you are contacting us because you have serious concerns about a students welfare, the University has a Student Emergency Contact Procedure (PDF, 100kB) that our staff can use to escalate your concerns. Please note Accommodation Office staff cannot see if a student has opted in to this system so will still need to adhere to the confidentiality policy, however if you wish us to escalate a concern we will take some details from you and pass it on to the relevant teams who will look into it as a priority.
Applications and allocations
Applications and allocations to residences are managed by the Accommodation Office. You can read step-by-step details, including application dates on our application process page. When allocating rooms we give priority to students with special accommodation requirements, for example because of an illness or disability. It is essential that students notify us of any specific needs at the application stage when prompted, otherwise we may not be able to allocate them a suitable room. After this, allocations are made by random selection from all the students who have applied to a residence within a fixed set of criteria including gender and faculty. We do this in order to ensure balanced communities in our residences. More details are given in our allocations policy.
Several of our residences are heavily over-subscribed. For some residences students have a less than 1 in 6 chance of being made an offer. Your son or daughter should read our information on choosing a residence thoroughly and we would ask that you encourage them not to set their heart on one residence in particular. Whatever residence is allocated the student will receive University of Bristol pastoral care and opportunities for social development.
When a student applies they are given the option of ticking a box agreeing to share information about the application with parents or guardians. As long as this box is ticked we are happy to discuss the application with you but we cannot make changes without instructions from the student.
Offers and acceptances
The student will receive an email alerting them when their offer is available to view. Unfortunately not all the offers will be for the student’s first preference. At this point all our rooms will be full and so we are unable to change the offer. If your son or daughter is unhappy with their accommodation offer, they can join the cancellation waiting list to express their interest in any other rooms that become available should other students cancel their offers. If a suitable vacancy arises we will then contact them. You can get full details on this process from our accommodation offers page.
We occasionally need to double up some rooms at the start of term. In 2017 a total of 150 students had to share a room at the very start of term. By the end of November, all students who wanted their own room had been moved. Some of these temporary sharers chose to stay sharing for the rest of the academic year. You can find out more about these shares on our temporary shares page.
If you feel that the offer made is unsuitable because of an illness, disability or other exceptional circumstance, the student should contact us straight away. Unless the student has notified us of any special requirements as requested in the application we may not be able to change their offer. Please note that supporting medical or similar evidence will be requested.
Students will be able to accept their accommodation offer online. They should read through their offer very carefully and ensure they have ticked all the appropriate boxes before the deadline. Students will receive only one reminder and if the offer is still not accepted it will be cancelled. If a student is unable to access their offer online at the relevant time they can authorise someone to accept on their behalf, you will need to have their login details, please ask the student for these.
If they do not receive the offer they were hoping for please encourage them to stay positive. We provide the same care and opportunities in all our residences and their first year will be far more about the people they are sharing with, making new friends and having new experiences, than about bricks and mortar. In the last 3 years under 0.5 per cent of students have still wanted to transfer their residence after the first two weeks of term.
Arrivals and payments
Details for arrivals weekend, including what to bring are available on our arrivals and moving in page and the online residence guides. Students will be required to book an arrival slot via their online induction in late August, early September, please encourage them to share this information with you.
See our Accommodation fees section for details of how to pay accommodation fees.
After the tenancy begins
One the tenancy begins we will always ask for the student’s specific consent before sharing information with you, as per the University's confidentiality policy. If you have any concerns and wish to contact the University, the following details will be useful:
- If you have a concern about a student’s welfare you should contact their Student Support Centre, contact details are available on each residence webpage.
- If you have concerns about a repair or the standard of accommodation you should ensure that the student has discussed any problems with their Accommodation Manager. If the situation remains unresolved the student should complete our report form. Please note that as our contract is with the student, any complaint should come from them.
- If you have a concern related to a student’s academic progress you should encourage them to discuss any difficulties with their academic tutor, you may also wish to contact their academic school.
Visiting or staying in residences
Parents and carers are always welcome to visit a student in their residence and we realise that this may on occassion require an overnight stay. If a parent or carer wishes to stay with the student they must arrange this with the residence in advance, details can be found on the residence guide for each residence, under 'guests'. This is because we may have an under 18 year-old in the flat or on the corridor. We do not allow parents or carers to stay in a student's room during the first two weeks of the academic year, as this time is especially important for new students to start forming friendships and for us to start on the building a community. The presence of parents or carers can inhibit the student and be uncomfortable for their flat mates.
Students renting in the private sector
Some students will prefer not to live in university allocated accommodation. The accommodation office can help them find suitable rented accommodation. Students planning to live in private rented accommodation should still fill in the online accommodation application, selecting the private option. This will ensure they do not miss out on important information about welcome week events. Further information about finding rented accommodation is available from our private rented accommodation pages.
There is a wide range of information on our website and it is regularly updated to try to ensure that the information is there, so it is always worth having a good look before you contact us. Details of how to get in touch with the Accommodation Office are on our contacts page.
Please do be aware of our confidentiality policy (PDF, 29kB) and understand that once a student has moved in we are unable to talk to you about any aspect of their living situation without first receiving written permission from the student.
Please note that when the accommodation offers are sent out, it is preferable to contact us by telephone, due to the volume of enquiries we receive. If you email us or submit an enquiry using our enquiry form during this week, we may not be able to get back to you before the accommodation offer acceptance deadline. Please do be patient during this busy time for us.
Find out more about the support available to students and what we can and can't do when it comes to contacting a student.