Yesterday it was revealed that the University didn’t have enough beds to accommodate all the incoming freshers. The University has accepted too many students, and those forced to live out of college may miss out on a central part of their Freshers year.
There are two issues at play – firstly, accommodation services have been left in the lurch by an expansion in the University and they can’t process the orders quickly enough. So as a result it’s 19 days until term starts and some freshers still don’t know where they’re going to live. This uncertainty can easily be solved next year – put more resources in accommodation services. Finding somewhere to live in a new university is stressful enough without having to wait on a department that is struggling with its workload.
Secondly and more importantly, there simply aren’t enough rooms – so yes that means some of you reading this will have to live off-campus. According to the University’s ‘guarantee‘, they don’t have to provide on-campus accommodation to freshers, whether they have a firm, insurance or Clearing place. But if the University wishes to place the collegiate system at the centre of University life, which it does (and should) then at least those with firm and insurance offers should be able to apply for on-campus accommodation.
The numbers are small but not inconsiderable. The last time this happened in 2010 there were 120 students living in private accommodation as a result of shortages. This year the number may be considerably higher. With 140 courses offering places, it’s estimated that in total 250 students will be displaced.
Many students make a success of living off campus in their first year, and the university is well-placed to accommodate them, with JCRCs working hard to get people involved in their allocated college, and societies acting as an important social centre for people with similar interests.
But the reality is that it’s not for everyone. Colleges are the centre of student life in the first year. In many students’ opinion there is simply no substitute for the block parties, the mass exodus to Revs on a Sunday and the summer afternoon BBQs on the quad. To some extent this will be denied to those who fail to get accommodation.
So where can freshers turn? The next issue is that the best advertised and most convenient accommodation off-campus is in the new blocks, which have sprung up, the most notable of which is on Hull Road. If you’re in a panic about where you’re going to live you may very well end up jumping at the offer of a well-advertised shiny new flat, even if they are £127 per week, with studio flats priced at an astronomic £155 per week. This is more than a lot of campus accommodation, most of which costs between £79 (twin room, Derwent) and £127 (premium ensuites, various colleges).
The staff, who wrote in their blog that they’re working overtime “drinking a lot of coffee”, aren’t to blame – this is most likely sue to chronic miscommunication between departments, or perhaps a computing error. But more care should have been taken. College life is central to student experience at York and should be offered to all, whether your offer is firm, insurance or Cleared.
Slider image credit: Petroc Taylor