Searching for a place to live is often higher on the list of priorities for most first-year students than thoughts of study.
With demand high for both university halls and cheap private housing, the student scramble for accommodation has begun.
Halls of residence are popular choices for first-year students not yet ready to embark on flatting.
Lorna Larcay from Victoria University’s Accommodation Service, says halls offer students opportunities to meet people easily and are great for those who don’t know Wellington very well. “I lived in a hall in my first year when I moved to Wellington and I loved it.”
Ms Larcay says demand for halls has definitely increased over the last few years. “So many people are applying which means students either miss out on their first choice of hall or are put on waiting lists.”
She says that a good application does not necessarily guarantee students their first choice of hall. “All of the applications I’ve seen this year have been good. We’ve got some people with really good applications on waiting lists.”
“We get a lot of parents trying to get their kids in to a hall because they can get three meals a day. It’s more appealing for parents as there is access to other services like study groups and campus tours.”
Individual halls select residents from large numbers of applications. “They look for a good balance of backgrounds, interests, and choice of study. A school’s confidential reference for school leavers is important.”
Victoria University has 15 halls of residence, while Massey University manages 2 residential facilities near its Wellington campus which offer students a choice of apartments.
Victoria University’s student association (VUWSA) president Bridie Hood says that VUWSA offers services that can help struggling students in halls or those who are flatting. “We run a food bank and free bread service. We also run a campaign called ‘Warm My Flat’ which provides students with information about how to keep cold, damp Wellington flats warm during winter.”
“Our student advocate can help students deal with any issues they may be facing, including problems with halls, flatmates or landlords.”
She says that in her experience Wellington student flats tend to be a bit cheap and damp. “Aro Valley is pretty notorious for that, but students expect it when they get cheap rent. It’s a bit sad really.”