Over 800 student bedrooms in the University are known or suspected to contain asbestos.
An article in The Guardian on Tuesday revealed that at least 17,000 students across the country slept in university accommodation that contained asbestos, with 38 of the 88 universities that responded confirming that they do offer student rooms that contain asbestos.
York was one of those institutions and the University has since confirmed to Nouse that asbestos is present in 847 student bedrooms on campus.
The substance is harmless when left undisturbed, but can be deadly if damaged and is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
While there are asbestos management procedures in place, campaigners have recently raised concerns that students will not report damage to asbestos if they do not know it is there, with many universities admitting that they do not tell students if their rooms contain asbestos.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has recently said it is “deeply concerned” about the presence of asbestos in university accommodation and called on the government to ensure it is removed.
In response to The Guardian’s request for the number of affected rooms on campus, the University described the presence of asbestos as “inevitable”, while highlighting the measures taken to manage or remove asbestos on campus.
The statement read: “Buildings across the University campus do contain asbestos, but this is inevitable given the widespread use of asbestos as a building material, primarily from the 1950’s up to the final prohibitions of the supply, importation and use of asbestos in 1999. Any building, including homes, schools and hospitals, constructed before 2000 can contain asbestos.
“It is not the presence, but the management of asbestos which is the key to safety and the University have comprehensive strategies in place to meet our legal duties and the duty of care we have to our staff, students, visitors and authorised contractors.
“These strategies take a risk-based approach to asbestos management. Where appropriate, this has led to the removal of asbestos or the treatment of the material with, for example, special paints to encapsulate and seal materials. Where asbestos is in a good condition and encapsulated it is often left alone, as is recognised good practice.
“All known items of asbestos that are left in-situ are monitored on an annual basis as a minimum, to ensure that they remain in a good condition.”
Laws in 1985 and 2000 have now banned the use of asbestos as a building material.
The University of Warwick had the most affected rooms in the country with 2,313.