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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Room Draw

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What is the Room Draw?

The Room Draw is the mechanism by which undergraduate College rooms are allocated. Essentially, students choose their room in turn from any of those still available, in an order established as described below. The process is managed by the Accommodation Manager, Pauline Walker, and the General Manager, Chris Pope, with support from the Deputy Senior Tutor, the Tutorial Office and the agreement and assistance of MECSU.

Room Draw information will be emailed to you and be on display outside the Accommodation Office in the basement of Pearl House.

You can also email questions at any time


How does the Room Draw work?

Rooms are allocated to the following five groups in order:

  • Current JCR President and Vice President; anyone sharing a room now or next year (random order);
  • Anyone living out now (in the private sector, not a College house) (random order);
  • Other current 2nd years (reverse of their order the previous year);
  • Other current 3rd years on 4-year courses (e.g. Engineers, physical Nat Sci’s) (random order);
  • Current 1st year students (random order).

The Room Draw covers all College-managed rooms (on-site or off-site) – single or shared, with or without en suite facilities. On-site room rents are based on: the size of the room, whether the room is modern/refurbished or dated/non-refurbished, and whether the room has en suite facilities; off-site rents also reflect the shared facilities available. Rent categories are reviewed periodically, in consultation with MECSU.

Some students are exempt from the Room Draw and select their rooms directly with Accommodation:

  • Students with religious consideration or disabilities or special needs
  • Students studying Music who need a piano and/or space for instruments
  • Students returning from a year away.


Signing up procedure

The Room Draw aims to achieve a ‘fair’ allocation of rooms across years, as agreed with MECSU, and through a consultative, supportive and transparent process.

A schedule of signing up appointments will be available to view in RMS online with the link circulated by email as well as being posted in the Accommodation Office.

You will be able to access information on the rooms available and the room chart in the Accommodation Office and via documentation emailed to you. MECSU hope to arrange times before the Draw starts when you can visit representative rooms in all parts of the College.

You are responsible for signing up for a room at the time specifically assigned to you at the “Ballot Choice” page under “MY Accommodation” in RMS.

  • At the time allocated to you, you should be logged in to RMS on the 'Ballot Choice' page where the time slot box will be red (closed). At the opening time of your slot, click the “Refresh rooms and choices” button. Your box will turn green (open). 
  • Click anywhere in the green box and a room selection page will open, click on your name to highlight it and then select the room of your choice available in the list. Once highlighted you must then click “Add to list”.
  • Your name and chosen room will be added in to the Choices box on the right. This box also displays a countdown timer showing the remaining minutes and seconds of your time slot. Your room selection is not complete until you click on “Request”. Once your request is accepted you may not change your selection. Your time slot box on the Ballot Choice page will be Blue.
  • If you not have made a choice, or if you have selected a room but not clicked on Request when your time slot expires your selection and your position in the draw will be lost.
  • Your time slot box will turn yellow when you return to the Ballot Choice page.
  • You will not be able to select a room until the person in each following time slot has made their selection and this will only be visible to you if you keep clicking the “Refresh rooms and choices”  button. If the box turns green you can continue to room selection but only for the period remaining in that current time slot.

If you are not able to access RMS at the time of your assigned time slot, you can nominate another person, a 'Proxy', to sign up for you:

  • To request someone to act as your Proxy visit the Ballot Choice page.
  • Click on the Proxy link in the red time slot table. Choose the person who you would like to ask to act as your Proxy from the drop down list and then click 'Request'. They will automatically be sent an email notifying them that you have requested that they act as your Proxy. They will be able to accept or decline the request the next time they visit the Ballot choice page whilst logged in to RMS.
  • You will be notified of your requested Proxy’s choice and should they decline you should repeat the process choosing another person.

If you have serious problems with either signing up in person or nominating a Proxy to sign up on your behalf, please email Every effort will be made to accommodate your needs.

NB: The lower you are in the ranking in the Room Draw, the less likely it is that your choice of room will be available.  Please carefully review all accommodation options in advance: make time to see the different rooms and ask questions as necessary to be sure that the room you sign up for is suitable for you in terms of license agreement, cost per term, dates for coming up and going down, location, style/type of room etc. This is particularly important to 1st years, as the lowest group in the Draw. Your attention is particularly drawn to the length of the lease: students who expect to be in Cambridge for periods over the vacation are reminded that some 39 week leases are available, and that the College does not routinely offer funds to students who choose shorter lease periods and then apply to remain in College accommodation outside term.

If you fail to attend your appointment yourself or nominate someone to sign for you, you will forfeit your ranking and have to sign up for a room at the time at which you present yourself.


Sharing a room

There are a number of rooms in College suitable for sharing by two people.

Sharing means lower charges, and priority in next year’s Room Draw too, allowing current 1st years to choose the best rooms in College in their 3rd year.  If you are very low on the Room Draw list, it may well be your best option.  The shared rooms will all have appropriate facilities for each student.  Do view the rooms designed to be shared before making your choice to ensure the rooms meet your requirements.

If you want to share a room, you must let us know by the deadline we give you by emailing .


Forming a group

You can form yourselves into groups of up to six. This allows you to sign up for rooms at the same time, making it more likely you can live together. The final positioning of the group in the Draw is the mean of the individual students’ rankings.

  • When forming a group you must select a 'Signatory'. The Signatory will be the only person who accesses RMS for the group to book the rooms for each member of the group. They do this by clicking on the “Refresh rooms and choices” button on the Ballot Choice page, whilst logged in to their (the signatory’s) RMS account.  When the time slot is open click inside the green box to get to the room selection page.
  • The Signatory clicks on the name followed by their chosen room for each member of the group, adding them to the choices box each time by clicking “Add to list”.
  • To secure rooms you may click 'Request' at any time and then continue to make choices for the remainder of the group up until the time slot closes.

If the Signatory hasn't selected a room for each person in the group OR they have selected a room for each person but have not clicked on 'Request', their selection and position in the draw will be lost when their slot expires.

Your time slot box will be yellow when you return the Ballot Choice page.

The Signatory will not be able to select a room until the person in each following time slot has made their selection and this will only be visible to them if they keep clicking the “Refresh rooms and choices”  button. If the box turns green you can continue to room selection but only for the period remaining in the current time slot. 

If you want to form a group, you must email copying in each member of the proposed group and nominating the Signatory by the deadline we give you. We will acknowledge the groups formation by return email.


Students expecting to be away on exchanges next year

MML, AMES or any other exchange students due to spend a year abroad next year do not take part in the Room Draw this year and are not required to do anything.


Students who are currently out of residence

If you are expecting to return from a year abroad, an exchange scheme, or from a period of intermission, we will contact you by email about a room allocation.


Students who require specific rooms for medical or religious reasons

If you require a room for a specific medical condition or for religious reasons, you must make your application for the room via your Tutor and/or the College Nurse who will then forward your application to Accommodation.  A letter from your Tutor or the Nurse will be required the first time you make such an application.

You must apply each year for this, by the deadline we give you, although a letter is only required the first time.

No applications for specific rooms for previously existing medical conditions or other reasons will be considered after the Room Draw has taken place. However, if new requirements arise after the Room Draw has taken place, do please apply as above.


Room changes & room cancellations

You will be charged half a term’s rent if you sign up for a room in the Room Draw and then decide after the withdrawal deadline that you do not want the room, unless certified medical or academic circumstances prevent your return the following academic year.


Waiting list

There are occasionally a few more students in the published Room Draw List than there are rooms available. However, rooms normally become available over the following months for various reasons, and everyone is likely to be offered a room sooner or later: the Accommodation Office keeps a waiting list and offers rooms to those at the top of the list as they become available.


Chris Pope                                           
General Manager                                                      
(Accommodation, Catering and Events)

Pauline Walker 
Accommodation Manager