If you have a private and comfortable spare bedroom in your home and enjoy meeting new people, why not join the Edinburgh College Homestay Host Network?
Our hosts receive excellent rates and close support from our dedicated Accommodation Officer through every step of the journey.
Accommodation is a vital part of a student experience studying in Edinburgh. Many of our students are non-native English speakers, so the homestay experience helps them learn about Scottish culture and lifestyle, and develop their English language skills. For many of our students, this is their first time living away from home.
Not only can you make money from a spare room and meet students from around the world but becoming a host family for Edinburgh College international students has a list of great benefits.
- Earn £160 - £215 per week hosting international students
- Meet students from all around the world.
- Support international students to make the most of their experience in Edinburgh.
- Open your mind to other cultures, learning from your visiting students about their home countries and cultures.
- Make a real difference to the lives and futures of our visiting international students.
- Make friends for life in Edinburgh and overseas connecting with international students and their parents, many of our students remain friends with their hosts for years to come.
- Enjoy learning about international culture from your visiting students.
- Enjoy seeing the student’s progress and journeys through their experiences with you.
- See the difference your hosting makes to improve students’ English language and communication skills.
- Benefit from full support, advice and guidance from dedicated Accommodation Officer.
- Feel fully supported with a 24/7 emergency phone number.
I particularly like having different nationalities in the house so they can all practise their English with each other."Gail - Current Homestay Host
4 easy steps to become a Homestay Host
Step 1 - Contact Us
Get in touch to discuss the kind of accommodation you are able to provide. We will ask you about the following:
- Location (how long does it take from your home to one of our campuses by public transportation)
- Types of rooms available (single room/shared room)
- Catering (half board/self-catering)
- Students accepted (long-term, short-term, summer; over/under 18, male/female). Please note, our students are always aged 16+.
Step 2 – Home Visit
We will arrange a date to visit your home. Prior to the visit, we will send you some more information about being a host, including our Host Guidelines. Christine Park, our Accommodation Officer, will visit your home to make sure your home is the right fit for our students. She will ask some questions and answer any questions you may have.
Step 3 – Complete Forms
Following a successful home visit, you will fill out and return signed copies of the relevant forms and risk assessments.
If you are happy to take students aged 16 and 17 (this will increase the likelihood of us being able to place a student with you), we will ask you to fill out our References Form and complete a PVG Scheme check. Our staff will advise you on this.
Step 4 – Registration Confirmation
Once all agreements and checks are confirmed as satisfactory, we will inform you of your registration as an Edinburgh College Homestay Host. You’ll be ready to start welcoming students to your home!
Get in touch
We are very happy to talk about the different options available and help determine what would work best for you. We look forward to hearing from you.
Email us or give us a call on 0131 297 8296 to arrange an initial discussion.
I get as much out of it as the students!"Ismay - Current Homestay Host
Homestay Host Guidelines
By signing up to be a homestay host for Edinburgh College, you are joining our register of hosts. We can never guarantee that you will be given a student, or that a student placed with you will remain for the full duration of their placement.
We do our best to place students with a suitable homestay host. Only in exceptional circumstances on a temporary basis will we place more than four students in the same household, or two students of the same nationality or language, so please inform us of any other students staying with you. Bookings are always confirmed in writing.
We recommend that you keep a ‘Visitor Book’ for students’ names, addresses and dates of stay.
Edinburgh College’s Accommodation Service is here to support you and your students through any issues arising as part of the homestay experience. This may include providing cultural advice and other guidance about hosting international students.
Rates for our homestay accommodation will vary. For example, students staying for a longer period may often pay lower rates than our short-stay groups. Furthermore, summer school prices will reflect the higher rates across Edinburgh in the summer period.
Please contact us for up-to-date rates.
We will always tell you the payment plans in advance.
In most cases the College will pay you by bank transfer, normally within the first two weeks of the student’s stay. This is especially true for short-stay groups, agency students, and Summer School students.
Most long-term students go home for College holidays at Christmas and Easter. We do not normally expect students to be charged during this time. However, hosts may wish to implement a retainer fee in some cases.
Please note that hosts are responsible for managing any declarations to Inland Revenue regarding taxable income.
Hosts and students should give reasonable notice if they wish to cancel the agreed accommodation booking. In most cases we advise that one week’s notice is reasonable. In cases where it will not be possible to give one week’s notice, Edinburgh College will liaise with both parties to find a satisfactory resolution with regards to payment.
Please note that Edinburgh College reserves the right to remove a student without notice from a homestay where there is concern over their safety or welfare.
In the case of a last-minute cancellation, no-show or a student moving out without notice, please note that Edinburgh College cannot provide compensation. If this occurs, homestay hosts will be placed on a priority list to ensure that they are offered the next suitable student.
Please contact us as soon as possible if your circumstances change during a student’s stay.
We strongly recommend that you check your household insurance to ensure that your policy covers hosting students, accidental breakage, damage by fire and water and liability cover. The College is unfortunately unable to cover the cost of any damages.
If you are claiming a single person discount on your council tax, then hosting students may affect this. If you have concerns about this, please contact Edinburgh City Council directly.
We personally inspect all prospective student accommodation in compliance with Accreditation UK criteria before placing any students in your home. Additionally, we will re-visit you again at least every two years. This is to make sure that there have been no changes to the quality of accommodation provided, and also to give us the opportunity to talk to you about your experience of hosting our students and answer any questions or worries you may have.
Before you join our homestay register, we will ask you to provide two references who we can contact to discuss your suitability to host our students. Examples of suitable references might be
- Other language schools that you have hosted students for.
- Your employer or an organisation that you volunteer for.
- An existing Edinburgh College homestay host or member of Edinburgh College staff.
- Family members would not be considered suitable referees.
All hosts providing homestay accommodation are classified as landlords under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. These regulations were introduced to ensure that all gas appliances in rented premises were modern and safe for tenants’ use.
To conform to these regulations, hosts with gas appliances in their homes must ensure all of the following:
- Gas boilers and central heating systems are installed and serviced regularly by a GAS SAFE registered installer.
- A Gas Safety Check is carried out annually on any gas appliances.
- You have a current Landlord’s Gas Safety Record.
- Furthermore, rooms containing gas appliances must have adequate ventilation, with any air inlets, flues and chimneys clear.
To find a local Gas Safe Register installer, please check the Gas Safe Register website.
Alternatively, if you already have a HomeCare contract with British Gas, contact them to find out how to upgrade to a PropertyCare contract. This is the same as HomeCare 200 and also includes a Gas Safety Record.
The Accommodation Service will require a copy of a Landlord’s Gas Safety Certificate from all new hosts using gas appliances, and then again each year that gas appliances are serviced.
We require all hosts have working fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as suitable within their home. These must be interlinked Fire Alarms to comply with Scottish laws as of February 2022. These must be checked regularly to ensure that they are functioning correctly and with sufficient power (e.g. when battery operated).
Prior to becoming a host, we will ask that you complete a Fire Risk Assessment. This is to help you identify any potential risks within your home and put in place any appropriate control measures.
We ask that hosts who smoke do so only outside their home in keeping with the law to protect against passive smoking. Please be aware that smoking in or around the household may impact upon students’ comfort or wellbeing, and that the college reserves the right to withdraw students from homestays in which they are uncomfortable with smoking.
In the case of minor health complaints, we advise students to go to a pharmacy in the first instance. If a student requires to see a GP, they will need to register with a medical practice near to where they are staying. The college can provide advice to students and hosts about eligibility for NHS services and documents required to register. Some students will have medical insurance enabling them to access private healthcare.
While we ask that hosts do not provide students with medicine, we recommend keeping a basic first aid kit in the home. Please check with students about allergies.
In an emergency, always dial 999.
If you wish to drive with students in your vehicle, we advise that you are responsible for students’ safety. Please ensure that you have a valid driving license and that your vehicle is in safe condition with an up-to-date MOT and insurance. International students may need to be reminded to wear seatbelts.
Hosts providing meals for students must provide breakfast and a dinner with at least two courses each day. Please ensure that these offer a well-balanced diet, are varied, appetising and flexible in accommodating any reasonable dietary requirements. While we understand that many of our hosts lead busy lives, we ask that you please refrain from regular use of processed microwave meals.
We will inform you of any special requirements prior to placing a student with you, but we recommend that you discuss likes and dislikes with students at the beginning of their stay, and on an ongoing basis.
The majority of students ask to be placed in a single room, especially for longer stays. Twin rooms are sometimes required for our short-stay groups and summer students, so if you do have a large room, we would recommend that you furnish it with two single beds (not bunk beds). This will increase the likelihood of us being able to place a student with you, as the room can be let as either a single or a twin.
The student room should contain a full-size bed, adequate space for clothes and books, a desk for study, a table, a chair and adequate lighting for study, including access to natural light. Where it is not possible for a desk to be in the room, facilities should be provided elsewhere in the house where the student can study in a quiet atmosphere. Bedding, bed linen and towels should also be provided.
As our lecturing staff encourage students to watch television and chat with their hosts, we hope that students will also have some use of public rooms just like any other member of the household.
Students should be allowed to bathe or shower every day. International students may have different cultural bathroom practices and may require guidance regarding local norms.
Students require adequate heating in their rooms but are advised not to leave heaters on in their rooms overnight or when they are out. We suggest you provide extra blankets as many students from warmer climates find it hard to adjust to Scottish weather. We recommend that temperatures in the areas used by students should be a minimum of around 17 degrees.
Many hosts prefer to do the student’s washing along with their own. However, if this is not the case, you should allow use of your washing machine at times convenient to yourselves. Please ensure that laundry arrangements are explained clearly to students.
We ask that fresh bedding and towels be provided each week.
We require that homestay homes be kept in a state of cleanliness and good repair. While we expect students to keep their rooms tidy, hosts should clean bedrooms once a week.
All of our international students expect Wifi to be available in their homestay, not only for their studies but also to keep in touch with family and friends in their home country.
The majority of students have their own mobile phones and will make local overseas calls using their own SIM cards and/or applications. However, please discuss the use of your home telephone with students. If you are concerned about unpermitted international calls, a ‘call barring’ system may be available through your network.
We expect that students be given their own key.
Edinburgh College will only place a student under 18 with a homestay host following a satisfactory PVG scheme check on all the adult members of the household (Protecting Vulnerable Groups - http://www.disclosurescotland.co.uk/faq). Our International Team staff will advise you on the PVG application process.
Under 18s are expected to adhere to a curfew, returning to their homestay each night by 11pm. This is clearly communicated to the students and is jointly enforced by group leaders, the college and you the hosts. If there are any college excursions arranged which will mean a student coming home later than 11pm, the hosts will be notified by the college in advance.
Students under 18 must provide the college with written permission from their parents in advance if they wish to stay out overnight or go on an overnight trip.
If you are a host of under 18s, we ask that you ensure a responsible adult is at home overnight.
In compliance with Edinburgh College’s British Council accreditation, we require that all hosts undergo basic safeguarding awareness training. We facilitate this and are flexible in our arrangements for doing so.
We will contact you about arranging training for this, but please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions in the meantime.
If you have any Safeguarding concerns regarding your student, please contact the Accommodation Service or telephone the out-of-hours emergency number immediately.
Hosts should ensure that there is an adult available to receive students on first arrival at the homestay.
During the first few days, it is important to remember that there is a “settling in” period. It will take time for you and your student to get used to living together. It is at this time that you should discuss and agree on those matters which you feel will ensure the smooth running of your household, as this will prevent misunderstandings occurring later on.
We suggest that you discuss the following with your student during the first few days:
- Exchanging phone numbers/contact details
- Mealtimes and dietary requirements (half board students)
- Use of the kitchen (self-catering students)
- Use of the bathroom
- What happens at weekends?
- Use of the telephone/internet
- Can your student bring friends home?
- Cultural/religious requirements
- Buses/trams to college and the city centre
- Local shops and amenities
- Registering with a GP (long-term students only)
- Fire safety in the home/what to do in case of a fire
- Any other details that you feel they may need to know regarding their daily life, safety and security
We ask that you bring your student to college on their first day and make sure they are confident about getting home again.
The majority of our students have smartphones and it is common for them to take photos and videos to record their experience in Edinburgh. As part of the settling in period, please discuss boundaries around any photographs, videos or other content recorded within the homestay.
We ask that students do not take photos, videos or other recordings without permission and expect the same of hosts. However, please note that Edinburgh College is unable to control students’ recording and sharing of content, including on social media.
For many of our students, their stay in Edinburgh may be their first away from home. Friends and family located overseas and in a different time zone may seem very far away, so feelings of homesickness are common. In addition, some students may struggle academically with their course, or with social and cultural integration.
Signs that your student may be struggling may include:
- Spending a lot of time alone in their room
- Often seeming tearful or in a bad mood
- Continued difficulty communicating
- Seeming isolated from peer group
- Significant changes in appetite
- Excessive consumption of alcohol and/or other substances
- Sudden interest in extreme political or other views
If you are worried about your student or notice any changes to their behaviour that concern you, please contact the Accommodation Service and we can discuss ways to give more support to you and your student.
We hope that hosting our students will be a trouble-free and enjoyable experience. We understand that having extra people in your home can at times be stressful and ask both hosts and students to work together in the first instance to accommodate each other’s needs.
If any aspect of a homestay placement is causing you worry or stress, please contact us straight away. This is so we can work with you to resolve any problems as soon as possible.
Please note that it is never acceptable to lose your temper with a student. If you find yourself struggling, please contact the Accommodation Service immediately – do not allow issues to build up.