Staying safe when living at university

Posted September 21st, 2023 by SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe shares their best tips for staying safe when living at university, to ensure complete security during this next big life chapter.

According to student insurance provider Endsleigh, one third of UK university students become targets of crime - with theft and burglary being the main security risks. 20% of these robberies are thought to occur within the first six weeks of the academic year, so it’s vital that students and parents alike adopt a mentality that centralises around safety and security. 

The prospect of being in a brand new environment, surrounded by new people, is equal parts exciting and daunting. As essential as it is for freshers and returning students to enjoy themselves, it’s important for any university goer to understand how to stay safe at university to avoid becoming an easy target. 

Personal safety at university

First and foremost, you need to look out for your personal safety at university. Since you’re living away from family in a new location - perhaps for the first time ever - it’s important to be vigilant. Plus, since students often go out at night, this may make them even more likely to become targets of crime. Keep yourself safe by following the advice below:

1. Getting home at night

Nights out are - for many - an essential part of the university experience, creating the perfect opportunity to socialise and make new friends. However, there may be certain risks that can be more prevalent in this setting. 

To avoid ruining the night, preparations could be made before heading out, such as planning a route home, finding a trusted group to go out with, or creating a text chat to ensure that no one is left behind. In times where students do face walking alone, dimly lit routes, alleys and underpasses should be avoided, and you may want to let friends or family members know when you’re leaving and when you arrive home safely. To stay safe on dark nights, we would also recommend carrying a personal alarm to alert passersby if you’re in trouble.

When unsure of the way home, it might be safer to pay for a taxi. Always choose a licensed taxi that you can trust, or if you use a service like Uber, it’s a good idea to share your location and the driver’s details with a friend so they know where you are.

2. Check in with your housemates

Going to university for the first time can be a daunting experience, but it’s helpful to remember that you’re not alone. Make sure you check in with your housemates regularly to make sure everyone is safe and doing ok. 

Another thing you should keep an eye on in your accommodation is anyone who seems like they shouldn’t be there. Report suspicious people or behaviour to the university, or to the police if necessary. To make it easier to spot people who shouldn’t be there, you could have an agreement with your housemates to always let each other know if you’re bringing guests over.

Keeping your belongings safe at university

Theft and burglary may be one of the biggest threats to students at university, so keep your belongings safe with these simple tips:

1. Keeping ID safe

University students should never let their ID get into the wrong hands - whether this be a university ID, passport, driving licence or bank statements. Ensure that these are kept in a secure place, whether that’s zipped up in a wallet or stored in a file within a locked location. If a criminal comes across this personal information, they could use it to either access online accounts or to figure out where the student lives - both of which could lead to potentially devastating consequences. 

2. Insurance

It’s certainly not uncommon for students to bring expensive valuables to their new accommodation, however, it’s important to both register and insure these possessions in the unfortunate event that they are stolen. In doing this, it means that they won’t be as costly to replace. Ensure your belongings are protected by getting student insurance, as encouraged by Save The Student. This will save you the hassle, money, and stress of trying to get enough money together to replace expensive yet vital items like your laptop.

Students could also write their details - such as their name and phone number - on their possessions using a UV pen. This will make it easier for the police to return them in the instance that they’re lost or stolen. 

3. Hide valuables

Alongside locking them in a secure location, you could hide your valuables when they’re not in use - particularly when leaving the house - to make sure that they’re not luring any burglars inside. Smaller items such as jewellery and money can be securely stored in a safe, unobvious place;  this could be in your wardrobe, inside a shoe, or even shielded under a house plant. Larger items like computers or game consoles should be shielded from view by closing blinds or curtains, or moving them away from windows. 

Need some more tips and tricks on how to keep your most loved possessions safe? Our complete guide will tell you everything you need to know. 

4. Secure your home

One of the most crucial ways to stay safe when living at university is to ensure that the accommodation is secure. This could mean looking for security cameras and fire exits, along with checking the building’s structure to determine how easy it could be to break into. 

Once students have successfully moved into their new home, effort is also required from their side to ensure that the premise is secure - which is important not only from a personal perspective, but also for the sake of their house mates. The door and ground floor windows must be securely locked to prevent any trespassers from unlawfully entering the building, and students should avoid lending their key or entrance fob to someone who doesn’t have authority to enter. If either of these have been lost, this must be reported to the university’s reception immediately to prevent threatening the building’s security. 

If you’re leaving your accommodation for the summer holidays and returning in the new term, it’s even more important that you lock all doors and windows to keep your belongings safe. Leaving your items unattended can be nerve wracking - especially in a high-crime student area - so you could look at putting your belongings in storage over the summer so you know they’re definitely safe.

5. Bike security

For students travelling by bike, check to see if the university has a designated bicycle storage area, kept in place with a secure lock. These areas are usually situated in a public space, and they’re well lit to ensure that theft doesn’t go unseen - consequently acting as an efficient burglar deterrent. For more tips on how to keep your bike safe, whether you’re a university student or otherwise, you can head over to our previous article. 

6. Protect your tech

In addition to avoiding physical theft, you also need to be careful online. Hackers can employ a wide array of tactics and schemes to catch you out - never assume that you’re too ‘clever’ to fall for common scams like phishing emails and fake calls from your bank.

Always follow basic internet safety advice, such as setting strong passwords (and not writing them down), avoiding links in emails or texts, and never typing sensitive information into insecure sites - secure websites start with ‘https’ and feature a padlock symbol to the left of the search bar. Plus, you should consider what you post on social media more carefully - certain social media posts can help out burglars, such as geotagged posts, moving in posts and selfies with valuables in the background. 

You should also install security software on your laptop and phone. In the unfortunate event that they do get stolen, this could prevent the criminal from having access to things like your online banking too.

For more advice on how to keep yourself safe and sound at all times, get in touch with a member of the SimpliSafe team. We’ve been providing homeowners with a complete peace of mind for years, ensuring that they have a customisable home security system that can cater to their needs. Start building yours today!