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Do You Need a TV Licence at University?

University life is a time of newfound independence, exploration, and learning. As students search for or settle into their new living arrangements, they may encounter new responsibilities in the form of additional student housing bills that require their attention. One question that often arises is whether they need a TV licence. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of TV licensing for university students, providing clarity on who needs a TV licence, what it covers, and how to ensure compliance with the law.

Students watching TV

What is a TV Licence?

A TV licence is a legal requirement in the UK for anyone who watches or records live television broadcasts as they are being aired. It is issued by the UK government's licensing authority, the BBC, and the revenue generated from TV licence fees helps fund the BBC's television, radio, and online services.

Do University Students Need a TV Licence?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including where the student is living, how they are accessing television content, and whether they meet certain criteria set forth by the UK government.

Living Arrangements

  • Students living in halls: In most cases, students living in university-owned halls of residence or student accommodation provided by a university are covered by the university's TV licence. This means that individual students do not need to purchase a separate TV licence as long as they are only using equipment provided by the university and not watching live TV in their private rooms.

  • Students living in private accommodation: If students are living in private rented accommodation, such as a shared house or flat, they may need their own TV licence if they are watching or recording live TV broadcasts on any device, including TVs, laptops, tablets, or mobile phones. Some student housing providers offer all-inclusive bills within the rent which can often include a TV licence, so it's worth checking what's included when you're looking at prospective houses. Take a look at our all-inclusive living package for an idea of what can be included.

Television Viewing Habits

  • Watching live TV broadcasts: If students are watching or recording live TV programs on any device as they are being broadcast, they are legally required to have a TV licence, regardless of where they are living.

  • Using catch-up services: Students who only watch on-demand services, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, or Netflix, do not need a TV licence. However, it's important to note that accessing BBC iPlayer or any other live TV content requires a TV licence, even if the student is watching on a catch-up basis.

Exemptions and Concessions

  • Students who are blind or severely visually impaired are eligible for a 50% discount on their TV licence fees.

  • Some students may be eligible for an exemption from TV licence fees if they meet certain criteria, such as receiving certain government benefits or living in a care home or sheltered accommodation.

What Happens if You Don't Pay for Your Licence?

Failing to pay for a TV licence when required can result in legal consequences and financial penalties. The UK government takes TV licensing regulations seriously, and individuals found watching or recording live TV broadcasts without a valid licence may face prosecution and fines of up to £1,000.

Additionally, TV Licensing enforcement officers have the authority to visit properties to check for unlicensed TV use, and those found to be non-compliant may be subject to further legal action. University students must understand their obligations under the law and ensure they have a valid TV licence if necessary to avoid potential repercussions.

How to Get a TV Licence & What it Costs

If students determine that they need a TV licence based on their living arrangements and viewing habits, they can easily purchase a TV license online through the official TV Licensing website. The cost of a TV licence is currently £169.50 but this can vary depending on whether it is paid annually, quarterly, or monthly and if there are any applicable discounts or concessions.

In conclusion, the question of whether university students need a TV licence depends on various factors, including where they are living and how they access television content. While students living in university accommodation may be covered by their institution's TV licence, those living in private accommodation may need to purchase their own TV licence if they watch or record live TV broadcasts. It's essential for students to understand their obligations under the law and ensure compliance to avoid potential penalties or fines.

For more information or to purchase a TV licence, students can visit the official TV Licensing website.


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