How Accommodation works.

Explaining how to get the most out of Girton’s ballot system.

Different types of accommodation

As undergraduates at Girton, there are three alternative systems you can use to choose accommodation for your next academic year.

  1. The ballot system: this covers most of College accommodation.
  2. The house system: this covers all the College houses as well as Swirles Court
  3. Private accommodation


How the ballot accommodation system works

Girton College JCR operates the ballot and room selection system on behalf of Girton College’s accommodation office. The ballot serves as a mechanism to make the flat rent system fair: the aim is that each student will average having a good room over their time at Girton.

Rooms are graded from A- (the worst room) to G (positively palatial). During Lent Term, the ballot will be produced by the JCR Accomodation Officer. This gives the order in which students will select their rooms. The ballot is organised by three steps.


  1. In order of your year

The ballot is initially organised by year. Second year undergraduates always get to choose before first year undergraduates. Third year undergraduates will tend to be allocated by the accommodation office to a College house, but should contact Emma Argles (ea458) if there is any problem.

  1. In order of your current room grade

In order to ensure fairness in room allocation, students in each year are organised based on their current room grade. Those with the lowest current room grade will be placed first; those with the highest current room grade.

  1. Randomly within your grade set

You are unlikely to be the only person in your year with your room grade. As a result, within your own grade set, the order will be randomised.


This will result in the ballot, providing an order for people to choose their rooms. The higher you are placed in the ballot, the more likely are to get a higher graded room. This can lead to strategies for the room ballot. Some choose an A-graded room for second year to get a huge room in final year (e.g. AAG), or some choose to upgrade in second year and remain in a sizable room for the last year (e.g. ADE).


The House System

College has several houses, and the choice has been expanded in the wake of Swirles Court. Each room in a house has a grade which will affect your place in the ballot in the following year, but applications are slightly different. The full list of houses will be released by the Senior Tutor in Lent Term, alongside a form to apply for houses.

There are few given rules on applying for houses: the final decision lies with the Senior Tutor. Those who apply with a full set of people for a house will get precedence over, say, 12 people applying for a 16 person house.

There is little other guidance from College, but some common-sense rules remain. Those in houses are expected to have a good track record, in order to protect college property.


Private Accomodation

Students can opt to move out from college accommodation, provided that they have permission from their tutor. All students who choose to move out are required to pay a living out fee, which is approximately £150 per term. This grants you access to the canteen at student prices, alongside other main site college facilities, like the pool and gym.

Private accommodation is an alternative to Girton College accommodation, but can have some drawbacks, which must be considered before accepting a contract with a private landlord. If you intermit, you would have to complete your contract with your private landlord, whereas Girton is willing to terminate your residence license. Similarly, you may be expected to provide a significant deposit, or find a guarantor.

Girton College JCR recommends asking for permission to live externally as early as possible. It is possible to ask for permission, but chose to instead live in College after, and is significantly more tricky to get permission later in the year. Students have recorded positive experiences of living in private accommodation, but it should be noted that some have found difficulties if they chose to return to Girton in picking their next rooms.