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Advice For Students

14th September 2019

Right, time to look lively, given Green Day’s instructions of “Wake me up when September comes”.  And you don’t want to disobey Billie Joe. As much as we might like to prorogue the Summer, it appears that Autumn is inevitably on the horizon. Prorogue, hey, there’s a term I’d never heard before this month – I don’t think it got covered in General Studies at school. Speaking of school (yes, it’s another of those tenuous segues), the new academic term will be underway this month, and that leads into what I want to talk to you about today. Students around the country will be starting university, and in many cases will be moving out from the family home for the first time, and into new accommodation.

Student accommodation can be tricky when it comes to taking the appropriate security measures, due to three main factors. One, security is generally quite low on the list of priorities of new students, ranking well below the likes of settling in, social events, and even in some cases, doing preparatory reading. Secondly, in the vast majority of cases, student accommodation is not owned by the student, and therefore one is reliant on either the university or a private landlord when it comes to the security of the property. And thirdly, students frequently have high value, portable items that are very attractive to burglars – laptops, TVs, mobile phones, music players etc. These three aspects sadly combine to make students one of the most high risk demographics in terms of being victims of burglary. 

Despite this, there is still advice that students can follow to try and make their time at university as safe as possible – this goes for whether they are staying in halls of residence or are renting privately from a landlord.

The safest type of accommodation should be halls of residence, owned or managed by the university themselves. However, there are still things to look out for, namely thefts from visitors or other residents. Before moving into accommodation, I would recommend that students make a list of any high value items they are taking with them to university. This includes serial numbers, which can be useful in tracking down any stolen equipment. Marking any expensive equipment with a security marking solution such as Smartwater should also be done as a matter of course. 

Thefts by visitors can obviously be avoided by not letting in any unwanted guests. Usually, university halls of residence will utilise an electronic key fob entry system, so that anyone without a fob will not have access to residential areas. This works perfectly until an unwanted visitor tailgates a genuine resident, entering the building without needing a fob. Students should look out for this, and not allow anyone without a fob entry to the building, no matter how tempting it is just to hold the door open for them.  If anything were to happen, this moment of politeness could well come back and bite the student when they have to explain to their roommates how their items got stolen. 

Greater security issues generally apply when it comes to private accommodation. At the start of any rental contract, the landlord should be asked who else has copies of keys for the property. Of course the landlord will have a set, but if copies are held by previous residents, this is a worry as who is to say they couldn’t still use them to come back and make off with the new residents’ property. If copies of keys are floating about, it would be a reasonable request to ask for the locks to be changed before any contracts are signed and any valuables transported to the property.  Ensure any fitted locks are of adequate robustness to deter burglars.  Should the accommodation be shared by multiple occupants, each individual bedroom should have its own lock for added security. 

Similar to anyone moving into new accommodation, students should thoroughly inspect the exterior of the property to see if there are any easy access points for potential burglars. Any concerns should then be logged with the landlord for remedial action. 

Students should not assume the landlord is responsible for all the security precautions though. They should make sure they keep all valuables such as laptops and mobile phones away from windows and doors, so they’re not in clear view of any passing thieves. When leaving the accommodation, whether private or university-owned, ensure everything is locked away – it may not be the first priority for a night out, but could save a whole lot of hassle later on. Also, keys should be taken WITH the student and NOT left under the doormat or beside a pot plant – burglars do check these places after all. 

Home security is not rocket science, and the same principles go for security in student life. Unless the course is astrophysics, in which case rocket science may come into it at some point.  Nevertheless, if there is a student in your life that you’re waving off to university this autumn, please do make them aware of the importance of security whilst they are there. Worries about grades and debt are enough to be getting on with, let’s not add the hassle of a break-in to those difficult first few weeks too. 

For advice on anything lock-related, or to enquire about repairs or replacements, call 01302 378067. 

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