Info Hub: Do You Need A TV License As A Student?

Before moving to university, a question you may be asking yourself is ‘Do I need a TV license as a student?’

Well, we’re here to answer your question and discuss what the television license within the UK is, who needs it, how much it is and what happens if you don’t pay for it.

Without further ado, welcome to the info hub…

tv license student


What Is A TV License?

In the UK, any household wanting to watch or record live programmes on any TV channel, including BBC channels on iPlayer have to pay the fee for a TV license.

This is also the case if you’re watching or streaming programmes live on an online TV service like ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Sky Go.

Don’t worry, you don’t need one to watch Netflix or any other on demand shows, just ones that are streamed live.

Regardless of what device you’re using, you need to have a TV licence:

  • TV
  • desktop computer
  • laptop
  • mobile phone
  • tablet
  • games console
  • digital box
  • DVD/VHS recorder

BBC news

How To Pay For A TV License

A TV Licence costs £159 and can be paid by Direct Debit, however, you can also pay all in one lump sum if you want to.

To spread the licence cost over six months, you’re looking at around £26.50 a month, from then on it’ll cost around £13.25 a month.

Sadly, they don’t offer any discount in price for students (how unfair).

The cost of a TV license changes every year; however, the current fee is set to be frozen at the current rates until April 2024 (due to the cost-of-living crisis).

Over the next couple of years, the TV license fee will be scrapped all together in 2027, but hold your horses, the fee is still currently active.

The licence fee helps fund BBC TV channels, radio stations, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds and online services.

You can find out more about how to pay for a TV license on the official website here.

How to pay for a tv license

Do You Need A TV License At Uni?

Here’s the section you’ve all been waiting for, do students need to sort out a TV license whilst at university? Well, we’re here to answer that for you.

Unfortunately, you’re not covered by your parents TV license whilst living away from home, although if you’re commuting to campus whilst at uni, you are.

1. Student Accommodation

If you live in student accommodation, you need to be covered by a license to watch TV in your bedroom.

We’re not talking about streaming shows on Disney+, but rather shows like ‘Good Morning Britian’ or ‘The Masked Singer’ as well as award shows that are broadcasted live like ‘Eurovision’.

Even if you don’t watch a programme on live and instead watch it on record later, you still need a TV license.

Although, if you have a communal TV in your living area, it’s most likely covered by a TV license already but check with your property team in case!

Student watching TV

2. Shared House Or Flat With Joint Tenancy Agreement

If you’re living in a student house or flat whilst at university with a joint tenancy agreement, which means that you all found the house together and signed the same contract, you do not need to buy multiple TV licenses.

Instead, you can split the fee between you if you’re going to be watching live programmes.

One TV license will cover all of the following in your household:

  • TV
  • computers
  • laptops
  • tablets
  • mobile phones
  • any other device that can receive a TV signal

Watching TV shared house

3. Shared House Or Flat With Separate Tenancy Agreement

Contrastingly, if you’re living in a student house or flat share with a separate tenancy agreement, you’ll have to have a licence to watch live TV individually, the same way you would if you lived in student halls.

But, like we mentioned earlier it’s pretty simple to pay for with a direct debit and the cost split across the year!

There is a little exception to these rules though, as a student you’re covered by your parents tv license for portable devices.

Essentially, if you’re watching shows on your phone or iPad, then that’s technically okay. However, watching or recording shows through a device plugged into the mains requires you to have a TV license.

Watching TV shared flat

What Happens If You Don’t Pay?

If you do watch or record live programmes without a valid licence, you are at risk of prosecution and can face a fine of up to £1000 as well as still having to buy a TV Licence if you need one.

You may receive letters from TV licensing whilst at university whether it’s to your student accommodation or student house, if you do, you should let them know whether you do or don’t need a valid tv licence.

Ignoring these letters may be tempting and it can happen quite regularly (not just students) however, it can mean that personal checks to your household may be carried out by inspectors who can check to see if you have aerials or satellites dishes installed.

It’s best to make sure you answer honestly and pay the fee if you legally require one, as getting caught out without paying isn’t worth the penalty really, is it?

You can even get a refund from TV licensing if you didn’t end up needing your license for the entire year, such as if you went home during the term break in the summer months.

You can check whether you qualify online.

We know, it’s a pain having to pay for things with your student loan when you’re already skint, but as we mentioned earlier, you don’t need to pay it all in a single payment.

TV licensing

There you have it, our helpful guide on whether you need a TV license whilst studying at university.

Have we answered all your questions?! We sure hope we have.

Good luck with the next academic year, and don’t forget to check out our other posts! Another helpful guide includes 8 Ways You Can Be A Supportive LGBQTI+ Ally.

Still haven’t found your dream student accommodation? That’s because you haven’t looked at our property pages!