This article is based on an element of research for a Masters thesis into the factors which determine success or failure in a specific first year cohort. One aim of the research was to establish if living away from the family home influences the study habits of first year undergraduate engineering students and impacts on their subsequent chances of success in both coursework and examinations. Data for the study were gathered largely from a survey of first year student cohorts. Interviews with four experienced lecturers and a review of the literature on the subject served to guide and inform the selection of the questions which were used in a student survey. The findings provide an insight into the factors which represent barriers to students developing autonomous study and learning skills. This article deals specifically with the factors associated to the students’ living arrangements and study habits