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