In Spain, university students are often torn between living in a student residence or in a residence hall (Colegio Mayor). Although the two are great accommodation options for university students, they are quite different when compared.

So that you know which accommodation best suits your tastes and interests, we will tell you the main differences between a student residence and a residence hall.


One of the most marked differences between a student residence and a residence hall is the history.

Spanish residence halls are institutions that date back to the 18th century. Students not only resided there but it was also the place where they received classes on culture, arts, religion, and society. In essence, it was the space in which they acquired the basic knowledge for life.

In contrast, student residences emerged much later, in the 20th century. Their objective was not to educate but to accommodate students who were beginning to arrive from elsewhere to study at the city's universities.

Characteristics and structure

This is another of the main differences between these types of student accommodation.

Most of the Spanish residence halls are institutions guided by religious education and its values. In fact, there are still halls exclusively for women and others only for men. Nowadays, however, most are mixed.

In contrast, student residences do not follow a religious or cultural line. That is why young people live here who have greater freedom of thought and action.

This aspect also influences the lifestyle that students experience. While in a residence hall, all activities or events that take place follow the established doctrine; In a student residence, the themes vary and are directed to different groups.


The residence halls are usually part of or associated with the universities. That is why they are very close to or even within university campuses.

On the other hand, student residences are the product of private initiative, so they are not related to universities. For this reason, it is possible to find residences in any part of the city.

Student population

As we mentioned earlier, residence halls are usually dependencies of a university. As a result, one of the requirements to stay there is to be a student at that university.

For their part, student residences accept students from any institution due to their private nature. In this way, while the halls have an exclusive student population, the residences present greater diversity.

Therefore, to decide between one or the other accommodation, ask yourself if you would like to meet other people outside of your university. There are those who prefer to limit their social circle, just as there are those who seek to expand it to discover other realities. In the first case, the residence hall is the best choice and in the second, a student residence would be more fitting.

Access requirements

To stay in a residence hall, it is not enough to be a student at the university with which you are associated. All applicants must go through an interview, since these institutions are looking for students with a certain profile.

In some residence halls, students are even required to have achieved a minimum average mark on their academic record.

In student residences, the picture is very different. The only requirement is to be a student at a city university and comply with the rules of coexistence established in the building.

In summary, as long as there is space in a student residence building, you will have the opportunity to enter; while in a residence hall you must go through a series of filters first.


In relation to services, student residences and residence halls do not differ that much. Each offers cultural, leisure, and entertainment events for students, as well as optional training activities and workshops.

Therefore, in both, young people can relax and clear their minds by participating in different activities and events.

However, there is a small difference and that is that, in the residence halls, the activities must be aligned with the cultural and religious principles professed by the institution.

In contrast, in student residences, activities are carried out for all groups, regardless of the beliefs or values ​​of the owners or staff. In this way, the events are more oriented to the interests of the students.


In both types of accommodation there are rules that students must follow in order to have harmonious co-living. However, there is a rule that is repeated in many residence halls and that does not exist in student residences.

These are the entry and exit times. This policy is imposed to maintain order and prevent students from being late. For some, it is annoying, since they cannot attend parties at night, and for others, it is a way of living in an organised environment.

Now that you know the main differences between a student residence and a residence hall, you can choose with more certainty which one seems more convenient for you.

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