Help of second and third-year students requested to combat on-campus accommodation shortage

Current second and third-year students have received e-mails from College Administration Officers on behalf of the Accommodation Office, requesting student help in allocating spare rooms. The spare rooms will be used for freshers who remain un-housed this year.

The University’s guarantee for on-campus accommodation for all freshers expired on 27 August. David Garner, University of York Press Officer, has confirmed that 131 students applied late – after 27 August – for on-campus accommodation and that “all students who applied before the deadline date have been offered a place in college”.

YUSU have set up a Facebook group, ‘Housemate hunting: For anyone looking for roomies in York’, to provide a forum for freshers to find others in a similar position, as well as for second and third-years looking to find additional housemates.

An e-mail from Alcuin College Administrator, Sheila Ashton, requested the help of Alcuin College students to help resolve the University’s accommodation shortage: “Due to the high demand for University places this year, we have a number of late applicant first-year undergraduate students who will not be offered University accommodation for October… If you have a vacant room in your student house, we would encourage you to make use of this [YUSU Facebook] page to get in touch with potential housemates.”

Laura Borisovaite, YUSU Welfare Officer, has said that this “year and in previous years, first-year students have been allocated University accommodation off-campus or they have chosen to rent privately. These students are still part of their college with second and third-year contacts (STYCs) and have access to campus facilities and events throughout their time here at York.”

“The issue is more about students seeking accommodation on-campus rather than seeking private accommodation, where there is a surplus,” continued Borisovaite.

Shaun Isherwood, due to start studying Mathematics at York this year, has experienced difficulties in finding accommodation due to the Accommodation Office not having received a change of e-mail address, despite the Admissions Department having his contact details stored correctly.

By 29 August, Shaun recognised the error: “The only places left were around £5,500 a year, £2,000 more than what I can manage. I applied and they offered me one. The next day, I called the Accommodation Office and they said that I should either re-apply with a note to explain the mistake (and potentially end up with a less appropriate room) or simply go private. I had to go private.

“So far, it looks like I’ll be living in private accommodation: I haven’t secured a place yet but there are a few available and one or two people have approached me with an offer. It might turn out okay but it’s still scary. A lot of the search has been guesswork too. It’s just annoying, really, that I’ll have to miss out on living in University accommodation with my peers; it may be more difficult to make friends, pay the bills, get to lessons, etc.”

When questioned about the short period of time between A-level results being announced and the accommodation deadline, Borisovaite commented that “students are made aware of the deadlines well in advance of receiving their results (up to four months), which then leaves them with eight days to complete the online process”.

Michael Taylor, another student enrolled at York to start this year, is still without accommodation. “When I got my results I think it was a few days before I was prompted to select accommodation. I went onto e:Vision and filled everything out,” commented Taylor, “but the only option left on one of the drop down menus was centrally allocated – which I assumed meant I would be randomly put into any college that had room.”

A call to the Admissions Department left Taylor under the impression that he “was in the process of getting some [accommodation] which I thought meant that I was still awaiting an offer so I left it at that”.

On telephoning a second time, “the woman proceeded to tell me in fact that I had rejected my offer. This was the first I had heard, as I checked my email everyday during the period she said the offer was sent and I did not receive anything about it, the only thing I received from the University was about the uni card and so I know that they had the correct address during this time… She then told me that my only option was to apply for private off-campus accommodation. That’s basically where I am now.”

There has been a shortage of on-campus accommodation in previous years, and the University has cited that they are “planning for further modest growth in student numbers” by moving Langwith College to Heslington East by 2012 to accommodate student population growth.

When asked if overseas students will be given preference to on-campus rooms, Garner stated: “We will do our best to offer assistance to all the students currently seeking accommodation. Additional rooms in college are becoming available each day. We will continue to offer places to students, who are still seeking accommodation, over the coming month.

“We will also do our best to assist students to find accommodation in the private sector. We are considering the provision of short-term accommodation for those who arrive in York at the start of term with nowhere to stay.”

The University’s website explains that “the charges to students for these different types [temporary rooms or off-campus houses leased by the University] of accommodation will be set within the existing University rent bands.”

To combat freshers feeling excluded from College activities if they are unable to find a room on campus, Garner has said that “arrangements are being made” to include students in college activities. The use of STYCs has been cited as providing a strong link between individual students and College communities.

Visit YUSU’s ‘Find a Roomie’ Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=118076614903325

16 comments

  1. No different down here in Worcester…

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  2. 18 Sep ’10 at 11:37 pm

    Atilla the Hun

    Hmm, maybe the knock on effect of New Goodricke wasn’t investigated properly.

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  3. New Goodricke’s got nothing to do with it. This is because people didn’t apply for accomodation before the deadline so they didn’t get given accomodation…

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  4. 19 Sep ’10 at 2:27 pm

    Linden Roseberry

    Paul – it wouldn’t be a problem if there was enough accommodation for all first years to live on campus.

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  5. aren’t the university legally obligated to provide all undergrad students with institution owned accommodation, or to at least find them non-institution owned accommodation?

    it hardly seems fair that some first years are having to scrape the dregs of the accommodation barrel off facebook, with no vetting system (tbh, any flat sharer could advertise through facebook surely??) or assistance. it seems rather cruel, leaving some poor 18 year olds to fend for themselves at an already stressful time of their lives.

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  6. This is poor indeed. In principle, the university should only accept as many students as it can guarantee college accomodation for in the first year. To expect incoming first-years (normally 17 or 18 year olds) to sort themselves out through facebook pages with strangers from another part of the country is just ridiculous, even if they were late in applying.

    Why does the university always accept more students than it can accomodate, even with the new buildings at Hes East? Is it greed or simple incompetence?

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  7. “Why does the university always accept more students than it can accomodate, even with the new buildings at Hes East? Is it greed or simple incompetence?”

    It’s harder than you think when it comes to giving out offers and places.

    More offers than places are given out in the expectation that not all students will get the grades they need or that people will simply put it as an (unused) insurance choice.

    It’s a hard balance to try and make and in the end the university has to accept all the students who it gave offers to that got the right grades, even if that is more than they anticipated.

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  8. To be honest, as soon as I submitted the above comment I realized the complications involved.

    Still, surely the university could estimate how many surplus students will be arriving every year and make some deal with a letting agency accordingly? The whole ‘sort yourselves out through facebook’ plan just seems lazy and doesn’t give the impression of proper planning or thought given to a problem which occurs year-on-year.

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  9. tbh, the University do make a deal with a letting agency. The whole “sort yourself out through Facebook” is for people who didn’t apply before the deadline.

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  10. @ C, if they already have a deal established with a letting agency…would it be genuinely difficult for them to extend it and request ‘x’ many extra rooms for students who applied late? or to get them temporary accommodation, as the drop out rate by december is very high, there will be a good 30-40 rooms available in each college.

    i know DMU paid for hotels for the first 3 weeks of term for students who couldn’t get institution owned accommodation, until some rooms were freed up by leavers. most other unis are really good about it, york not so much clearly?

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  11. it’s good to see that it’s college administrators priority to get students into beds. whey!

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  12. Where does it say that these 131 students still wouldn’t have had university supplied accomodation had they applied before the deadline? It doesn’t. The university GUARANTEES accomodation for all first years who apply before the deadline. If that’s more than the rooms they have on campus I’m sure the university would do something about it, even if it means paying for some hotel rooms for a year. The reason they haven’t got accomodation is because they applied after the deadline, and after the deadline has passed the university can offer all spare rooms on campus to second, third and fourth (or higher) years who have applied for university accomodation. This is NOT guaranteed, so it comes after first-years-who-apply-in-time on the priority list. Had these 131 applied in time they would have been allocated these spare rooms before they were given out to returning students.

    Unless I’ve missed something?

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  13. Paul,

    You’re not. ‘Anon’ is just being a dick.

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  14. 20 Sep ’10 at 9:43 pm

    Will and Grace

    Easiest thing is for the university to head-lease more properties, like other places do. Lots of high-ranking universities only guarantee Halls to students who apply before the deadline AND live over a certain distance away, but lease houses and allocate the places like Halls.

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  15. Surely the university should look at extending the deadline so that first years have more time to apply for a room. We don’t start until mid October so the uni would still have plenty of time to sort everything out. I’m sure had that happened then a significant number of the 131 would have been sorted.

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