Know Your Rights: What to do if your student accommodation is unsafe
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Know Your Rights: What to do if your student accommodation is unsafe

Know Your Rights: What to do if your student accommodation is unsafe

Can I apply for work as an international student in my host country? What are my wage rights? Am I allowed to join protests and class walkouts? If I had a run-in with the authorities, what should I do? To help you understand the extent and limitations of your rights as a student abroad, Study International will provide the answers to all these burning questions and more through our “Know Your Rights” article series. Have a question you want to be answered? Email us at

When you’ve moved thousands of miles abroad to your dream university, the last thing you’ll want is to feel unsafe in your new university halls.

What every international student deserves is a welcoming campus community, complete with friendly housemates and a respectable halls representative who’s happy to help with any queries or feedback about the students’ current living situation.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes students feel they’ve been sold a lie about how their selected accommodation should look and feel.

Airbrushed images of university campuses and flashy virtual tours can be misleading, so the only way to know for real is to experience it first-hand. So what do you do if you’re beginning to feel unsafe a few weeks after settling into your new house or halls?


Student life is sometimes scary, but your housing shouldn’t be. Source: Giphy

If your student halls representative isn’t helping, seek outside help

So, you’ve told your halls guardian (this is usually a mature student) that you’re not happy with your living situation. Regardless of whether it’s a tricky flatmate causing you grief or the fact that local areas are filled with unruly gangs, this issue could soon start to affect your studies.

If the guardian doesn’t listen to your requests or fails to take worthy action, it’s best to contact your university directly. Either the students’ union or student support team will be there to listen to your worries. It’s their duty to help in any way they can.

So, if you aren’t comfortable in a place that’s supposed to give you respite after a long day of lectures, it’s really not worth your investment. Remember, university isn’t always easy and you need your private space to unwind. But it’s your university’s responsibility to ensure you feel safe.


Cleveland State University has the right idea. Source: Giphy

Conduct in-depth research on the area’s safety statistics

Often, universities boast about their dedication to campus safety and use persuasive content on their website to capture readers’ trust.

But you mustn’t take the first source you read as truth. Despite a wide array of campus awards, they may be trying to disguise the realities of the local community’s safety rating or criminal occurrences.

The best way to figure out the truth is to read local papers. If they have an online gazette or newsletter, critical criminal issues will usually be published and warnings will be granted. Alternatively, you can check out student forums and see if anyone else has had trouble living in your desired area. Contact the forum contributor for a firmer grip on what your future living environment entails.

Think of ways you can partake in a community transformation initiative 

If the accommodation you’re staying in is lovely but the neighbourhood you have to walk through to get to campus is not, every time you have to leave your halls or flat share can feel really intimidating.

Instead of running away and looking for alternatives, why not try and solve the issue? Perhaps the local community needs to be uplifted with inclusive events and fun get-togethers. Or maybe the town’s council needs a few fresh opinions and ideas to bring peace.

Yes, it’s easy to turn your back on the issue and move to a new area, but what about seeing this as a chance to build your people skills and professional portfolio? You don’t have to go it alone; you could create a team from your house mates and university peers to establish a community development initiative.


Teamwork makes the dream work! Source: Giphy

If you have any further questions about your accommodation or personal rights while studying abroad, email and we’ll help you get to Know Your Rights.

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