Accommodation safety and security

Your safety is our priority

All of our accommodation buildings have secure fob access entrances and flats and bedrooms have individual fobs, keys or keycards which we issue when you arrive.

Keep your accommodation as secure as possible by keeping your fob, key and keycards safe and never lend them to anyone. If you do lose your key fob/card then you will need to request a replacement.

Do not leave internal or external doors propped open, or let anyone in you do not know; refer them to the Student Services Hub (SSH), accommodation reception, or find the person they are looking for.

Ensure you always lock your windows and doors when you leave your room/flat, especially if you live on the ground floor.

To prevent loss of your personal belongings, never leave them unattended in communal areas such as the kitchens or laundrettes. While your belongings are insured whilst they are in your room, they are not insured when you are using them outside your room or around campus. Please contact Endsleigh for a quote if you would like to extend your insurance cover.

Contact security

We want you to feel safe, so if you have any security concerns, we have support available 24 hours a day.


Clearance of ice, snow and leaves

The service level agreement for The Houses, South Courts, The Towers, Wolfson Court, University Square :

Leaves are cleared on a weekly basis by the Estates Management Section staff during the autumn.

Please contact reception at The Copse (also for The Meadows), University Quays or The Pastures for those individual areas.

No smoking policy

The University's no smoking policy covers all University buildings including all student residences. Smoking (including e-cigarettes) is strictly prohibited in all and within 5m of all student residences including public areas and shared facilities, this includes:

  • all kitchens
  • corridors
  • lobbies
  • rooms
  • bathrooms
  • stairs

Smoking shelters have been provided near to the residences for you to use.

For further details on how to keep safe and information on what support is available to you, please check out our student safety information.

Electrical safety advice

The University has strict rules on the use of certain electrical items. This is necessary to protect staff and students from the risk of fire and electric shock. Please take time to read this guidance, as it will help to ensure you do not have the unnecessary expense of having to replace unsuitable equipment.

Connecting to the UK main supply

Only electrical items that operate between voltages of 220–240v and at a frequency of 50Hz are suitable for use in the UK. Equipment that operates on any other voltage and frequency may be damaged if connected to the UK mains electricity supply. To avoid damaging equipment that has been purchased overseas, please check the voltage and frequency (which will be marked on your equipment) before bringing it to the UK.

UK Three-pin plug
UK Three-pin plug
UK electronics lead and three-pin plug
UK electronics lead and three-pin plug

Prohibited electrical equipment 

You must not use equipment for heating, cooking, refrigeration or washing in the study bedrooms of University-owned or administered accommodation. This is because the equipment can produce significant heat which could start a fire or cause injury. In addition, the way items are heated or cooked can produce fumes which could activate the fire alarm system.

The kitchens in our accommodation are equipped with a cooker, refrigerator, freezer, microwave oven, and kettle.

E-scooters are also not permitted on campus, which includes accommodation. E-Scooters should not be taken into your accommodation for charging or storage. Should an e-scooter be found during our annual inspections, then it will be reported and may be confiscated. This is because the equipment can produce significant heat which could start a fire or cause injury.

Chargers for e-cigarette and mobile device

There has been a significant rise in the number of fires in the UK caused by faulty chargers for e-cigarettes and other electrical devices. Follow the advice below to reduce the risk of a fire, electrical shock or damage to your equipment when recharging e-cigarettes and mobile devices.

  • Use the original charger supplied with your device.
  • If you need a replacement or additional charger, purchase a genuine factory replacement.
  • Avoid cheap unbranded replacements from the internet or market stalls.

Check out the London Fire Brigade's information on chargers, batteries and fire safety.

Use the 6 point safety check below, before turning on power

  • Does it have insulation on the pins?
  • Does it have a CE mark?
  • Does it fit in the socket properly?
  • Does it have a manufacturer’s brand name, model and batch number?
  • Does it have the correct output voltage (V) for your device?
  • Does it have the correct output current rating (mA) for your device?

When charging e-cigarettes

  • Do not leave it charging for prolonged periods.
  • Never leave it on to charge overnight.
  • Do not leave it charging unattended.

Please note: the University’s no smoking policy also applies to the use of e-cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited wherever smoking is prohibited.

Using multi-plug extension leads

These are used to increase the number of electrical items you can plug into a wall socket. However, although there may be space to plug in four or more appliances, this does not mean it is always safe to do so. Different electrical appliances use different amounts of energy. To avoid the risk of overheating and possibly fire, you should never plug into an extension lead or socket appliances that together use more than 13 amps or 3000 watts (3kW) of energy. Items that produce heat, such as hair driers, use a lot of energy and so more than one should not be used together on one multi-plug extension.

Use the Socket Overload Calculator to check what items can safely be used together on a multi-way extension lead.

If you use a multi-plug extension lead, make sure that it has a fuse, as this will give additional protection. Some have surge protection, which should also protect your electronic equipment (e.g. laptops) from being damaged. Suitable multi-plug extension leads are available from Essex Essentials.

Travel plug adaptors

University health and safety inspections have found dangerous travel adaptors being used by employees and students, some of which were found to be unfused and others with exposed pins. Dangerous travel adaptors not only present an electrocution risk (which could potentially be fatal) but also have the potential to cause electrical equipment to overheat or spark and start fires.

Trading Standards in the United Kingdom have advised that travel adaptors need to meet the following requirements. They must:

  • comply with BS5733 and preferably BS1363-3
  • contain an appropriate fuse
  • be designed so that it is not possible to insert one current carrying plug pin into the adaptor, whilst leaving the other exposed (see below image):

Travel adaptor pins

University-approved travel adaptors, which have been checked against the above requirements, are available from Essex Essentials. Staff and students who require a travel adaptor should be encouraged to purchase them from here. Adaptors can also be purchased from the Copy Centre counter on Square 4 at the Colchester Campus.

Some posters have been produced to help with selecting safe travel adaptors:

Fire safety

Stay safe when frying your breakfast! Whether you are cooking breakfast, straightening your hair or using a toaster - if you're living in University-provided accommodation or off-campus in a shared flat, it's important to know how to stay safe to avoid fire hazards.

We ask all students to watch our fire safety video for University residents so that you know what to do in case of a fire and to help you avoid fire hazards happening in the first place.

Prohibited items

Heaters, candles, naked flames, diffusers, and flammable material

The use of portable heaters, halogen lamps or heaters, wax melters, candles, tea-lights, aromatic oil heaters, joss sticks or any other device which has a naked flame, as well as diffusers, are prohibited in University owned or administered residential accommodation. The storage of flammable materials of any kind or compressed gases, other than aerosol products are also prohibited. 


Smoking is strictly prohibited in all University buildings including our residences. Disciplinary action will be taken against offenders, particularly if they have been found to have tampered with smoke detectors, as this puts the safety of students and staff at risk.

Other common causes of fire in residences


Fire caused by cooking is the most serious risk to all students living in accommodation. Over the years a number of serious and a substantial number of minor fires have been caused by students cooking.

The University therefore gives the following advice to all students in accommodation.

You should not leave cooking unattended. Fires are often caused by oil whilst frying catching fire due to overheating when left unattended. Similarly fires have been caused by fat catching fire when left under grills. We would also not recommend cooking when you arrive home after a night out, as you are more likely to be tired and less vigilant. 

Deep fat frying is prohibited in University owned or administered residential accommodation. This is the cooking method in which food is submerged in any hot fat/oil, as opposed to the shallow oil used in conventional frying done in a frying pan. This includes the use of a deep fat fryer, chip pan or any heated pot where food is submerged in fat/oil.

Grill pans and cookers must be kept free from fat and food debris. Grease and fat residues have caused fires due to overheating particularly when cookers have been left switched on inadvertently and unattended.

Toasters are considered a fire risk, therefore, we do not encourage students to use these. If you do decide to use a toaster, please ensure that it is turned off after use and is cleaned of debris regularly.

Read instructions on pre-packed food and always remove food wrappings before cooking as these wrappings can ignite and cause fires in cookers.

If a fire occurs use the fire blanket found in your flat and carefully lay it over the fire. This will control it until expert assistance can be summoned. The fire alarm should always be sounded and the building evacuated. Never remove the fire blanket, leave it to the security staff.

Minor fires resulting in burnt food only will not warrant sounding the alarm. However, a report must be made to the Information Desk to allow the cookers to be checked for electrical safety before they are put back into use.

No cooking of any kind is permitted in your room.


Take care and do not place any items, including towels or clothing, on the heaters in the kitchen areas as this can be a fire hazard.

Fire alarms and evacuation

Automatic fire detection system

Your building is fitted with a sophisticated fire detection system that has interlinked smoke and heat detectors in common areas and individual smoke detector units in bedrooms. These units are necessarily sensitive. Tampering with or damaging the equipment is a disciplinary offence.

Common causes of false alarms are:

  • smoke from cooking when the kitchen door is wedged open
  • steam from the showers if the door is left open
  • use of aerosols (ie: hairspray / deodorant etc) near detectors
  • use of hairdryers, curling/straightening tongs, etc. near detectors
  • smoking, which is banned in all University accommodation

Bear in mind that the above will prompt evacuation and will not make you popular with the other residents in the building. You may also have to stand outside in the cold and rain for some time and you will be preventing the Fire Service from being able to attend real incidents elsewhere.


In order to protect students from outbreaks of fire, all doors within residences are fitted with self-closers and the doors are designed to hold smoke and fire back for a minimum of 30 minutes. It is therefore essential that no doors are wedged open and any door that fails to close fully are reported to the Student Services Hub for attention.

Evacuating your residence

You are required to evacuate immediately on hearing the fire alarm other than in the first five minutes of a pre-scheduled test. Failure to evacuate immediately is a disciplinary offence usually incurring a £100 fine.

The notice on the back of your door will tell you where to assemble outside, ensuring we can check that you're safe. It's important for you to know what to do in the event of a fire, so reading our emergency information is advised.

Please make sure that you have read the Terms and Conditions of Residence as it includes requirements for fire safety.

University Square Southend

We’ve identified the cladding and insulation needs to be replaced at University Square, our accommodation in Southend.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed in writing that University Square is safe to occupy due to all the safety measures we have in place while we make arrangements for the necessary work to be completed.

A letter was sent to all residents in May 2019 to update them on the situation and an open meeting was held to allow residents to speak to University staff and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

If you have any questions please contact the Student Information Team either by email or call 01206 874000.

Fire safety in The Towers, Colchester Campus

Fire Alarm System

  • Each of our accommodation towers at Colchester Campus has a fire detection and alarm system that gives an audible warning throughout each building and in our security office
  • All kitchens have heat detectors linked to the central Fire Alarm Panel
  • Each bedroom has a smoke detector linked to the central Fire Alarm Panel
  • There are manual call points at all exits from the floors. The call points are also linked to the central Fire Alarm Panel
  • There are fire alarm sounders throughout the buildings. These sounders activate if any of the smoke detectors or heat detectors are activated at any part of the building

Fire Evacuation Process

  • If a fire is detected in any room within our tower blocks all fire sounders are activated on ALL levels
  • EVERYONE must evacuate the relevant tower if the alarm sounds
  • All occupants are informed of the full evacuation policy and fire drills are carried out at the beginning of the academic year
  • Any alarm also sounds in our Security and Safety Centre on campus and security officers immediately go to the tower concerned to check and evacuate every room at all levels within the tower block. They have keys and will forcefully evacuate individuals if necessary (If a false alarm is confirmed then it is not necessary to check and evacuate all the rooms)

Our Colchester Campus has a manned security team on patrol 24/7 that constantly monitor the Campus for any fire alarms.

Further information about our Colchester Tower buildings

  • All building walls are made of fire resistant materials - engineering bricks with solid concrete floors
  • The stairwells are protected by fire and smoke resisting doors
  • The Towers do not have any external cladding on the buildings

Our accommodation is no smoking and we have a number of rules to reduce the risk of fire. We also have disciplinary processes to support these rules.

Student browsing online
Terms and Conditions of Residence

Our terms and conditions give details of the terms of your tenancy agreement. By accepting a room when it is offered you are accepting these terms and conditions and you will be entering into a legally binding contract.

student talking to support staff
Contact us

For enquiries about accommodation or about an application you're making, contact us at the Student Services Hub. Quote your full name and PRID or PG number on all correspondence.