Do students need a TV licence at University?

It’s that’s time of the year again… Students are about to head ‘back to school‘, piling off to University with a couple of bags of clean washing and an overdraft beginning to bulge thanks to some of the summer socializing.

Once you get back to your student halls of residence, or your rented house, you’ll have a lot of time to kill. You’ll probably only have 6 or 7 hours of lectures each week – and what better way to spend your valuable revision time than watching the telly? But will you need to buy a TV licence or is there a loophole in the law that enables you to get something for nothing?

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TV for students

The law says you need to be covered by a TV Licence to:

  • watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, on any channel
  • watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.

Relatively recent changes in the law mean that this applies to any device you use – including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

What is a TV licence for?

The function of a TV Licence is to fund BBC services such as TV programmes, BBC websites, weather forecast facilities, radio, podcasts and apps. The other TV channels use advertising and product placement to pay their costs but the BBC has a commitment to provide an impartial public service.

Anyone with access to BBC programming must be covered to watch by paying the licence fee. This means if you ever watch live transmissions, or you use any part of BBC iPlayer, then you need a licence. The fines for not having one can be quite large.

Browse Ebuyer’s range of top quality TVs at great value prices

Students TV licence
Living the dream…

Shared house – TV licence?

A home or household can be defined as accommodation with its own tenancy agreement, or its own front door or bathroom. So therefore bedsit rooms, studio flats, or student houses where each room is individually let will all need their own TV licence.

A student house with one joint tenancy agreement (so five students all sign the same lease) is only required to have a single TV licence. This means you and your four housemates can split the cost equally between you.

The student loophole

There is a loophole in the TV licence system, which students can take advantage of, but it’s quite convoluted. If your parents have a licence for the family home and you live with them for part of the year (ie. when you return home during university holidays), then you’re covered by this TV Licence for portable devices.

You can’t use a TV or desktop computer in your student bedroom and not pay, but you can use your laptop or mobile device providing it is powered by its own batteries and not plugged in to the mains. In effect, you could watch the latest episode of Line Of Duty on your laptop that’s already been charged and unplugged. But if it’s plugged in and charging then you need a licence.

Can I get a TV Licence refund?

Yes, you can get a partial refund if you bought an annual licence but didn’t stay in your student accommodation for the full year. You can sort all this, and other things, on the TV Licensing website.

Of course, all of this talk of TV licences and we haven’t mentioned that you’ll need a decent TV to watch things on – particularly if you’re going to be living in a shared house and have the TV in the living room! Check out Ebuyer’s range of TVs, and maybe you and your housemates can go splits on the cost of one if you don’t feel like making the punt on your own.

Take a look at our ultimate tech guide for students at uni. From laptops to apps for personal security, we’ve got it all covered! Click here.

For more details on student savings and TV licences, click here!

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