Over 500 students will be left struggling to find accomodation as the result of a campus room shortage. A secret report that concluded that third years don’t want to move back onto campus is believed to have influenced University policy to cut the number of rooms available.
The leaked report, which was compiled from a survey of students on accommodation, states that third years “tend to stay” in private accommodation and indicates a “growing preference not to rent from the University”.
However, the Accommodation Office is expected to have received over 1,000 second and third year requests for campus rooms next year, despite only five hundred rooms being available.
It also reveals that, in 1995, 58% of students had a space on campus, compared to only 43% in 2005, meaning students have lost nearly 400 available rooms on campus over ten years. After receiving the report last year, David Maughan, the Accommodation Officer, confirmed that “[It] will be used to inform the University in its long term planning of accommodation.”
The limited amount of places, 250 of which are expected to be allocated to overseas students and those with medical conditions, has meant that many students will have to wait until next month before they can start to search for private accommodation, more than five weeks after the accommodation list has been published. This is in contrast to last year when the Accommodation Office extended the deadline for returning students’ applications several times, and made a plea for 3rd years to move back onto campus to fill unused rooms. It was later revealed that an administrative error had left a number of first years, including 72 Alcuin students, without campus accommodation.
Phil Prosser, Assistant Accommodation Officer, said “Last year we didn’t turn anybody away.” He admitted that “the number of places available has gone down… but the number of people applying [this year] is more than we expected.” 700 students applied for rooms in 2005, still over 250 more than the number of available rooms for the next academic year.
Students have reacted angrily to the lack of availability, citing financial problems and rent increases in the private sector as a requirement for moving back to campus. Laura Newbold, a 2nd year Langwith student, said she was “pissed off, as it looks like I won’t have much chance of getting a room and I have no idea what I will do if I can’t get one.
“The rent in my current house has risen to around £3,000 a year, without bills. It will be cheaper living back on campus by almost a grand, and I also want to move back as I will be doing my dissertation and need to be close to the library.” The private sector for student accommodation has seen a massive rent increase recently, with rent rising 100% since 1996, despite house prices only rising by 26%.
The University encourages applications by telling students on their website that “private sector accommodation could be up to about £1350 more expensive than some University accommodation.” Yet they also make the point that “financial hardship is not grounds for priority for accommodation, as many students experience such hardship.”
Many colleges have sent out emails to their students explaining that places would be limited, but this has failed to discourage applications. Tony Ward, Provost of Alcuin College, told students that “It is unlikely that any student who is not in the priority categories- overseas students and students with medical conditions requiring residence- will be offered a room.”
Langwith students also received an email informing them that they were preventing applications from groups of friends, as “these will quickly use up all the places remaining.” In Langwith there are only 19 places available for non-emergency cases, compared to a total of 47 last year.
By Toby Green