Hostels, Halls of Residence and Residential Colleges

University or polytechnic hostels or residential colleges are the choice for most first year students.

The majority are fully catered, with two or three meals provided and eaten communally each day. You will share bathrooms but have your own room as your sanctuary and study place. In most cases they are on, or are short walks from, campus, and all have active social programmes. When it is time to study, hostels provide a supportive and encouraging platform.

It is the friendships you can make – from anywhere  - in hostels that can help enrich and define your time at university or at tech. Most of the others in hostels or halls are in the same position as you will be, first year students in a new city. It’s exciting. Hostels give you a good introduction to everything and make you feel part of university or polytech life.

Hostels or colleges come with real costs

There is a significant cost to halls of residence or hostels. A year can cost between $11,000 - $14,000 for fully catered accommodation. Self-catered options are also available in some universities and polytechnics, with students living with 3-5 others in apartment-like units with cooking facilities. These options can cost from $6,000 for the year, with food and living costs are on top of this.  

Some of the costs can be covered by a Student Allowance. This is a weekly payment provided by the government to help with your living expenses while you study. It’s money that you don’t have to pay back. You usually need to be studying one full-time course at one education provider to get a student allowance, and pass to keep it. You can also take or add to a Student Loan to help with accommodation costs, but this will need to be paid back eventually.

Living in a hostel is definitely something that you will need to work out with your parents. It can be a big commitment for you and your family.

Apply early for your hostel or college space

You need to apply for a hostel or residential college even before you are accepted into a course at university or polytech. Applications for hostel space need to be made as early as August and September the year before you plan to study, and hostel accommodation offers are generally made to prospective students in October, even before NCEA exams start.

Get onto it – it is better to apply and secure a room rather than delay and take your chances on long waiting lists. Applications require a reference from your school as well as all your other details, and it’s important that you know this has been done and can accompany your application.  

Really important tip:

When universities or polytechnics are looking at your application, they get a confidential reference from your school and they look at YOUR YEAR 12 results, not what you achieve in Year 13. If study is on your horizon, how you perform in Year 12 is hugely important. The better you go in Y12, the more options you have when applying and the better your chances of being accepted.

Keep asking if you don’t get in

If you don’t get in first time around, don’t give up. Quite a number of prospective students change their minds in December and January, resulting in places becoming available to students on the waiting lists. Visits to hostels can be arranged if wanted, and these can be organised through the respective institution's accommodation office.



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