SETTING UP BROADBAND IN YOUR STUDENT HOME

ESSENTIAL STUDENT GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING BROADBAND

Broadband is an essential utility for students but there’s a vast choice of packages, includingspecial student broadband deals. How do you go about selecting the right service for your student home?

What is student broadband?

Most broadband packages come with a contract period of 12, 18 or 24 months and cancelling early means paying a fee for the remaining term. That isn’t always the best setup for students, who may not be living in the same property for a whole year.

But there are broadband services with shorter contracts and this is often what you’ll find when searching online for student broadband deals.

Some are specifically aimed at students so feature a nine month term and are only available around July, August and September. Other packages simply offer a short contract as standard all year round. Rolling monthly is most common though there are sometimes three and six month deals.

Do you need student broadband?

There’s generally no difference in terms of speed or service between student broadband and regular broadband besides the contract length so you won’t miss out on anything by opting for one. The key advantage is contract flexibility.

But watch out for the setup and running costs when comparing these short term deals.

Signing up for longer contracts will often mean lower monthly costs and little to no outlay up front as the setup fees are waived. On a short contract the provider may charge for setup and extras like a wireless router which are usually included.

Another aspect to consider is the phone line rental. Nearly every broadband service requires an active telephone line and this is likely to come with its own 12 month contract. To avoid this you’ll need to choose a provider which can deliver both phone and broadband on a short contract, or select a service which doesn’t require a phone line.

Not every student needs to go for a student broadband package. If your living arrangements aren’t going to drastically change in the near future and a cancellation fee isn’t a concern then you’ll probably find that a normal broadband deal offers better value for money. And if you move during the contract period the broadband and phone can be transferred to the new address.

Your options for broadband: choosing the right technology

Many homes now have access to both ADSL and fibre optic broadband. If price is the primary concern then ADSL broadband using the trusty old telephone lines is the cheapest option. However with a top speed of 17Mb (and probably less in practice) it’s not particularly rapid and can be easily overwhelmed by just a few users, making it unsuitable for shared houses.

Fibre broadband is the best choice if you demand fast connectivity and require it to handle multiple users and devices without choking. Most of the fibre services available now are using either the BT Openreach or Virgin Media networks.

BT network fibre services offer a top speed of either 38Mb or 76Mb. They’re available from a wide range of ISPs, not just BT itself, so the competition means there are always some deals up for grabs. But short term contracts are rarer with fibre so you may need to accept a longer agreement, and it still needs a telephone line.

Virgin Media fibre is only provided by Virgin Media. Prices tend to be a little higher and coverage is not as extensive as the BT network, but it does have two big advantages. First is the top speed of 200Mb, currently the fastest mass market broadband connection in the UK. Secondly, and perhaps of most interest to students, is the fact that Virgin offers broadband without a phone line so there’s no need to pay for line rental just to get internet access.

Is mobile internet suitable for students?

Mobile broadband is a potential alternative to fixed line internet services, and while not suitable for everyone some students may find it a perfect fit for their requirements.

Provided you can get a good signal mobile internet can be quick, particularly if 4G is available. But it’s real strength is flexibility. As it’s not reliant on a physical link the broadband service can go wherever you do (assuming there’s a signal of course) so moving home isn’t an issue.

It isn’t up to the task of serving multiple users, though, and with relatively low data caps compared to home broadband it could get very expensive if you regularly indulge in video streaming or large downloads. But if your usage is light and you just need a straightforward connection to the internet free of the hassles of a fixed line contract, mobile internet might be the solution.

Article courtesy of Viki (Broadband Genie)

 

FINDING THE RIGHT UNIVERSITY

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATION WHEN CHOOSING THE RIGHT UNIVERSITY

Making that decision on what university to embark on is a difficult choice, with so many factors to take into consideration, how do you make sure that you that it’s the correct one?

One factor that will affect your university and your time at the institute will definitely be location and with that the types of accommodation that you’re able to live within.

When looking to find accommodation at your new institute; one thing you must consider is that you may not be able live in Halls of Residence, so therefore local transportation and convenience will be the most important accolade to have in your new property.

So how do you establish which is the right accommodation for you?

There are so many places on offer, and so many different types of accommodation that can suit your living needs, one of them is furnished accommodation, meaning you don’t have to worry about getting yourself those house basics (bed, sofa, table, etc.).

Furnished accommodation can help you save your cash and will help you throughout the year as your landlord will be forking the bill for any wear and tear goods.

The landlord will also be extra cautious when it comes to his furniture, we would recommend looking after your furniture very well as some landlords will use this as a way to take advantage if the goods aren’t returned in the exact same condition you received them.

Another is part-furnished accommodation; this will generally come as half-filled house/flat housing white goods and some of the most vital living requirements but may not include wardrobes, bedside tables etc.

When looking at Accommodation you will need to consider the area and maybe do some background research if it is a new area you are moving into. You will not know the area like others who have lived their before so maybe reach out to the accommodation services at your future university and discuss the region that you’ll be moving too.

Once you’ve decided that the accommodation you’ve selected is suitable, and that you may have ever discussed things with possible housemates or the terms with the landlord over the phone.

It makes perfect sense to arrange a visit to the property and discuss the deposit scheme in full – making sure you are protected, to find out more about a deposit scheme click here.

We understand that choosing the right accommodation comes just after choosing the right university; so to reassure that you’ve the chosen the right place throughout your accommodation process, check out University Compare.

It’s a website with thousands of reviews from real students that will also be able to shed light on their accommodation experiences with universities.

HOW TO SHARE THE BILLS IN A STUDENT HOUSE

ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO SHARING STUDENT BILLS

Living in a student house can be very challenging, and sometimes the frustration can lead to some priceless post-it notes. This post shows how these unspoken dialogues can get hilariously out of control.

If you found those entertaining then Oonagh O’Hagan’s wildly entertaining book ‘I Lick My Cheese’ will be essential reading for you. Now, although all of these issues could have been resolved if only everyone had been mature and communicated like adults, wittily told stories of student house clashes between Princesses and Neanderthals make for great conversation pieces.

However, in my experience something that has never been a welcome conversation filler is bill sharing. Because it is quite possibly the least sexy conversation in the world, it’s one of those things that people sharing a house may just assume will resolve its self.

Well take it from me, it won’t! Here are a few tips and pointers to prepare you for the not so wacky world of adult financial responsibility…

RENT INCLUSIVE

In my humble opinion this is the best system because it’s the simplest, and if you’re lucky enough to have a landlord who uses this arrangement (and doesn’t exploit it to pocket a bit extra from you) congratulations, you’ve saved yourself a lot of hassle!

PRE PAYMENT METER

Pre-payment meters are the opposite of simple. I’m not saying that they’re complicated, they’re not. Once you’ve got that top up card (or key) it’s ready to take to the newsagent to charge with hard earned banknotes. The problem I’ve always had with this system is that it is always hanging over you. You live in fear of running out of electricity at an inconvenient moment.

Now, add onto this the stress of trusting everyone in the house to put the same amount of money in, and take the same amount of trips to the shop in the typical British weather and hey presto! There’s a whole new ongoing daily frustration to deal with! I recommend having a kitty in the kitchen and everyone putting a fiver in every Monday, and then taking it in turns to make the mission. There’s some advice about how to arrange this system with your housemates below.

PAY POINT

PayPoint is a system where all bills are paid at a local newsagent. This is quite efficient and everything is documented, which (as you’ll see in the next section) will help you to get that money out of your housemates.

THE INTRODUCTORY MEETING

If you don’t have this meeting you’ll regret it, so make sure the initial discussion happens the first time you are stood in the same room together with all (or most) of your housemates. Sometimes this happens surprisingly rarely once everyone is moved in, so when that situation happens start the conversation by saying ‘we’d better work out how we’re going to tackle bills’.

Now, what if one of the above categories doesn’t apply? Well, it looks like you’ll have to find a bill-keeper. Basically one person takes on this role and collects money from the others. Simple! All you need is someone mathematical, honest and organised, as well as being headstrong enough to collect the money without compromise. No, I don’t know anyone like that either.

So, whose name are the bills going to be under? If no one volunteers you could suggest a ‘spin the bottle’ system, which can make the subject seem a bit more playful (which will make it easier to bring up awkward discussions about bills in the future).

Now, is there a computer in the room? If not do you have data on your smart phone? Hope so, because you’re going to suggest that the agreement is put down in a group email that is to be sent when you’ve all come to an agreement. Then just start typing!

TWEAKING THE SYSTEM

OK, so there are always going to be special circumstances that may need to be agreed upon. If someone is on holiday are they still expected to pay bills? Personally I’d suggest yes, as many houses have bills included in the rent, so it should be assumed that this is a variant on the same situation. Of course this will help everyone in the long run as it’s always best to keep things simple!

What if a housemate brings a partner over frequently, should they pay a bigger percentage of the bill? Now, despite this section being called ‘Tweaking the System’, you can count on one thing, someone will always ask ‘why didn’t we bring this up in the introductory meeting’? So do yourself a favour and bring these things up in the introductory meeting!

The partner situation can be resolved by having brought it up at this friendly start of term bonding session, and saying ‘of course we’re all friends here, so whatever partners spend time in the house are bound to be open to contribution or negotiation’. Warning, you’re very likely to be ridiculed at this point.

IT’S ALL IN THE EMAIL

Having a group email in place, you more or less have an established system which will make future transitions go more smoothly. For example if someone new moves into the house, because the group email already exists you can easily add the new housemate and remove the one departing. So plan for that introductory meeting, you only get one chance. Good luck!

OTHER USEFUL LINKS

Want to take a seriously focused control of your finances? Then this student budget calculator could be the answer to your prayers! It’s aimed at parents, but getting a grip of this stuff could be rewarding in the long term. Of course there are other bills aside from the sensible house ones and some great deals can be found on Student Money Saver’s bills and finance section. Unfortunately there’s no free gas and electricity, but there are a number of offers to save you money, use less water and keep your phone topped up, so check them out!

Article courtesy of Sylvia (Student Moneysaver)

STUDENT GUIDE TO WORK EXPERIENCE

FOUR SURE-FIRE STEPS TO A BRILLIANT WORK EXPERIENCE

The time has come to dust off the alarm clock, dig out those smart shirts you think you brought, and get stuck into some work experience. It’s nowhere near as daunting as it might sound and could actually end up being very useful, and even quite fun, if you do it right. So, Peter Ames from OfficeGenie.co.uk offers a few words of wisdom about how to ace your placement.

Say hello to 7am

This won’t be easy, but a big part of dipping your toe into the real world is setting an alarm and getting up to commute. It’s going to be a shock to the system at first but you’ll get there. And if you’re really struggling here are our favourite two apps to give you a bit of get up and go in the morning:

Sleep Cycle: Analyses your sleep patterns and chooses the best time to wake you
Morning Routine: Which requires you to hunt down and scan an item before it quietens

This does also mean you might have to cut out the occasional midweek night out. Now, the prospect of living like an ‘adult’ may seem awfully tedious but it’s not actually all that bad. Eight hours sleep can feel quite pleasant, nightclubs are actually quite rubbish and Grand Designs arguably represents a much better use of an evening. Why not go the whole hog and be ‘that guy’ who offers to cook dinner for everyone, you’ll soon be popular beyond your wildest dreams.

Commuting can be fun

Last year the Guardian found work experience placements can cost up to £926, much of which might go on commuting. But it’s not all that bad, with a bit of effort you can turn the dreaded commute into a little bit of me-time.

Remember all those books you said you read on your personal statement? You could actually read them. There are podcasts aplenty out there and you could even learn a language. Just don’t try to make any friends on the tube, there are some things that you can’t achieve even on the most productive of commutes.

Get used to office habits

Unfortunate though it may seem, work experience will introduce you to a whole host of new people. It will also introduce you to their, erm, quirks. Recently, at Office Genie, we had a look into the biggest office pet peeves, these are all fairly common so prepare yourselves for (and try your best to avoid):

Poor hygiene, the number one complaint and the easiest to avoid, so make sure you’re acquainted with a bottle of Radox and a can of Sure and you’ll be fine
Smelly food, which was an irritant to over 20% of people; so maybe don’t bring in last night’s pickled herring
Lateness is still not appreciated, even if you’re not getting paid, and rounds of the top three office irritants

Bad though all this sounds, remember the sorts of things that go on in Fresher’s Week? Doesn’t seem that bad now does it?

Embrace it

The real key to work experience, at the risk of sounding like a motivational poster, is to approach it with a great attitude. There’s a very real chance you’re going to have to make more cups of tea than you’ve ever made before – so at least you can perfect that particular art.

You’re also probably going to have a few less-than-stimulating tasks, but do them well and you never know your employers might take notice and allow you spread your wings a little more. What’s more, on that dreaded day when you come to look for a job for real, a little experience and a glowing reference really go a long way.

Article courtesy of Lilli (Office Genie)

Student Accommodation Investment

STUDENT ACCOMMODATION INVESTMENT – RESPONSIBILITIES AS AN INVESTOR

Along with education, student accommodation is arguably one of the most important and vital components of a student’s life at university (and freshers week of course). Here at Aspen Woolf, we value both the investor and the student; which is why we only look at property we believe is going to heighten and add value to the student experience.

It is our belief that the investor should also aim to do this and stand out in the property investment market (success is rare without a passion for your work).

So, what should the investor do to meet their responsibilities and fulfil the conventions associated with a good landlord? Take a look below and let us know what you think:

Have the right team on board

It’s essential that the investor does not try to take on everything on their own, as it’s just not possible for one person to spend a sufficient amount of time on every aspect of letting a property.

Therefore, the investor should have a strong team that accommodates for the amount of money, time and resources needed to be spent on a property in order for it to be both a successful business venture and a property that students will be proud to call home (students should have the security and comforts taken care of whilst they have the stresses of studying!)

Ensuring that your team can take care of the legal and handlings of the property is imperative, but our next topic is equally integral to the investor’s reputation, career and responsibilities within the property investment industry.

Maintenance

If internal and/or external issues begin to take place with a property, e.g. plumbing issues, electrical issues, lock on the door stops working, it is the responsibility of the investor to make sure that these issues are resolved to ensure the happiness of the student tenants.

Not to mention that it is very likely to harm your integrity as a competent and trustworthy investor (current tenants are known to give feedback on the level of maintenance and care to prospective tenants).

To avoid this, investors should make sure that they look to handle all serious issues with the property as soon as possible. Perhaps the best thing to do is to employ a property manager. They are not often expensive and provide savings on tax.

Property managers can carry out routine monthly checks, take on board the feedback of tenants and also report anything they believe to be an issue as well; and ultimately see to it that the issues are taken care of and pay the bills with the investor’s approval (as well as prepare monthly and yearly invoices for tenants and all relevant accounts).

Property managers can save the investor precious time and stop them from getting too stressed out to perform their duties and responsibilities adequately by trying to take on too much (or too little)!

Firm but fair

As an investor, it’s important to have satisfied tenants and not do anything untoward to compromise this (for example, attempt to significantly raise the price of rent halfway through the student year due to a a slyly added loophole in the contract).

However, it’s important that the tenants do not take advantage of a fair nature by regularly paying rent late, damaging the house, smoking or owning pets when it’s stated in the contract not to do so, engaging in illegal activity in the house or keeping the neighbours awake with partying.

The investor, in a landlord role, should never allow themselves to be made to feel guilty or cosied up to by the tenants in order to give into their demands or tolerate their unfair behaviour. The investor should make it clear that there will be warnings and possibilities of evictions if the terms of the contract aren’t met; leaving the tenants no room to argue if the terms aren’t met.

Sure, allow your tenants to enjoy themselves and possibly have controlled, organised parties that end at a reasonable time and take neighbouring families into account (preferably informing them with plenty of notice when the event will take place).

However, there’s no reason you should allow your property to be making noises in the market for all the wrong reasons, so being firm with your fairness (and not super-friendly) is significant in properly meeting the responsibilities of a student accommodation investor.

This article was written by Braedon Frank (Aspen Woolf)

Student Housing Software

TCAS ONLINE IS A CLOUD BASED MANAGEMENT PLATFORM FOR ANY SIZE STUDENT ACCOMMODATION PORTFOLIO

It doesn’t matter where in the world your accommodation is you will need student housing software that is cutting edge and a leader in its field.

That is why having the right software will make a significant difference. TCAS Online specialise in providing technologically sustainable software solutions.

Clients include educational institutions and private accommodation operators in the UK, Ireland and Asia markets. Since its incorporation, they have continued to grow their business by providing a range of “Best of Breed” management software products and services.

TCAS was launched to a major University in Dublin in 1999. Since then, its re-developed the software, and TCAS Online was created.

They have experienced exceptional success with TCAS Online in the Irish,UK and Asian student sector since its introduction in 2007.

The browser based accommodation management solution is built on the latest NET Framework and provides its clients with a more flexible and cost effective option when compared to other, similar products.