Halls of Residence, de Havilland CampusStudent accommodation

There is a big demand for student accommodation in Hatfield mainly due to it being home to the University of Hertfordshire (UH). Plus, there are neighbouring institutions, like Oaklands College and the Royal Veterinary College, which are also expanding. Usually, UH guarantees to provide accommodation for a student's first year only – mainly in student halls (some of the de Havilland Campus halls are shown in the picture). So here are some things you may find it worthwhile to take a few moments to consider if you're likely to be looking for student digs in Hatfield.


Do you really need accommodation?

Depending on how many days you need to attend lectures and where your home is you may be able to commute from home. UH owns its bus company, Uno, which offers discounted travel to students and operates services around Hatfield – including to Queensbury in outer London where it is possible to connect with London Underground.

Alternatively, if it's only for a couple of nights a week, it may actually work out cheaper to book a room in a local hotel or bed and breakfast.

Tip: as you'll be taking a room one or two days a week during term time, you may be able to negotiate a discount to the standard rate. Or you may have course mates who may be able to offer you a spare room (or floor space for a sleeping bag).


How long will you need accommodation for?

Some courses offer an accelerated option that is more intensive, with shorter or no holidays, but allows you to complete a year earlier. It will be more demanding but you pay less fees and expenses, and start earning a year earlier.


Do you really need to live in Hatfield?

Apart from the UH facilities there's relatively few pubs, clubs and bars that are likely to be of interest to those placing a higher emphasis on the social aspect of university life. Neighbouring St Albans has more to offer in that regard and as it's on the cross-London rail line it is possible to travel down to Brighton and the south coast (but it is highly sought after so rents are high). Watford also offers a wide selection of pubs and clubs. Even if clubbing isn't your scene other neighbouring towns and places like Welwyn Garden City, London Colney, and Hertford are potential alternatives.


Your life: your choices

The average student is likely to be in their teens or early adulthood. For many this will be their first experience of living without parental supervision. Some will be new to the county, others new to the country.

You and you alone are responsible for your actions. Alcohol and drugs cloud and impair judgement, but it is your choice to get involved with them (or hang out with people who do). However, they are not the only pitfalls on the road of life: there are plenty of other vices. You're equally likely to end up being an academic loser by simply not putting in enough effort into your studies.

It is an irritating fact of life that the softest call of temptation can be heard further than the loudest call to duty (equally frustrating is that it's always a lot easier to get yourself in trouble than get out of it).

In 2004, a University of Hertfordshire poll of undergraduates (which was picked up by the national media) revealed that over 50 per cent rated the quality of the nightlife as an important factor in which university they chose. Not too surprisingly, UH put its money where its research was and opened The Forum, five years and £38 million pounds later.

While youthful hormones remain as powerful as ever, the world has changed. Fees have increased and a degree is no longer an automatic guarantee to work and financial success.

Indeed, in July 2010, the Association of Graduate Recruiters issued a press release which makes sobering reading.

Some key facts:

  • Employers estimate a 6.9 per cent drop in graduate vacancies (set against a backdrop of increasing globalisation reducing the number of firms and offshoring ie. moving work to low wage areas / countries).
  • An average of 69 applicants apply for each graduate vacancy (compared with 49 the previous year).
  • The average graduate recruit salary is £25,000.
  • 78 per cent of employers insist on a 2:1 as a minimum qualification to be even considered for an interview.

So while you're only young once – if you have chosen to go down the academic route (rather than work, or work and study) then be prepared to put the effort in and focus on getting results. Or you could end up with a lot of happy memories and little else – apart from debts.

While those who choose to indulge in alcohol or drug abuse may have an even higher price to pay.


Renting in Hatfield

Students wanting easy access to the libraries and resource centres, and overseas students not familiar with the country, would probably find it easier to base themselves in Hatfield (with the added bonus of good transport links to London). The Central Resources Library, the main book and music repository for the Hertfordshire Library Service is located in Hatfield (but there are plans to move it, although it is not clear whether it will go ahead or not).

Renting a house or flat by yourself is fairly straightforward but expensive – and you may have to deal with all the utility bills and sort out day to day issues (depending on the agreement with the landlord).

Firms and landlords who cater for students tend to offer 41 week Short Assured Tenancies (SAT). Some real estate companies will act as introducers to allow individual students to join others and take out a joint tenancy agreement – an advantage being that one tv licence will cover all sets / systems capable of viewing programmes in the property. Another is that it allows you to share the cost of the deposit – and other bills, like utilities: water, electricity and gas (if these are not included – something to check on before you sign).

A more detailed look at the pros and cons of renting student digs can be found in the 'A-Z of of renting student digs in Hatfield'.

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