Advice on planning accommodation in your host country for work/study abroad placements during the 2021/22 academic year.
The University mandates that students must secure accommodation for the duration of their period abroad.
Students who are eligible to continue their study exchange in-person will only be able to do this if your host institution can provide accommodation (or recommend an alternative). You also have the option of staying with friends and family.
Those eligible to do a non-study activity (e.g. work placements, traineeships, etc.) must secure private accommodation for the duration of their placement (i.e. not a short-term hotel, hostel or holiday rental). This should be either provided or approved by your activity provider. You also have the option of staying with friends and family.
You should not book accommodation until the stage 1 risk assessment has been approved, and you have been given explicit approval from the Study and Work Away (SWAY) Service to do so.
Expenses incurred before your risk assessment has been approved may not be covered by the University's travel insurance.
Advice for seeking private rentals
Search using official channels, and ask your host institution/organisation for advice and recommendations
Ask to see the property and the owner/agent virtually before committing (e.g. on a video call)
Ensure you know the financial and legal implications of ending your lease early before committing to anything (e.g. what would happen to your rent payments/personal belongings for in case you need to return home at short notice)
Ensure you receive a rental agreement and written evidence of any deposit payments (if applicable)
If in any doubt as to the legitimacy of the accommodation, do not transfer any money or sign a contract
Remember - if something looks too good to be true, it probably is
Opt for a private room (not a shared room or dormitory) wherever possible
The University advises that you only choose from accommodation providers that have been recommended by the host, or stay with friends/family.
This reduces the chances of being offered scam accommodation. Additionally, in the possibility that the UK government or a student's home government advises that you must leave your host country due to increasing Covid-19 cases, these accommodation providers are more likely able to protect your personal belongings. You may also be able to terminate their rental contracts with these providers more easily.
Applying for accommodation at your host university
If your host university offers accommodation, you should only book accommodation when given explicit approval to do so from SWAY (this should be after approval of the stage 1 risk assessment).
We appreciate that this could be problematic due to host institution deadlines. Unfortunately, University insurance only covers students who have completed the risk assessment, so booking in advance of this would be at your own risk.
We would encourage you to check with your host institution in the first instance if they are able to be flexible with their payment deadlines, given the unprecedented situation and the high level of uncertainty caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
This should be particularly noted if you plan to begin your placement remotely with the possibility of joining in-person work or study at a later date.