Confusion faces students left to wait on family housing

Image: Dan Powell

Students with dependants have been confounded in their efforts to apply for family housing on campus, after confusion regarding the accommodation services waiting list. Calls for an increase in family housing have been ignored on the pretext that waiting lists do not imply high demand, but according to students and members of the Graduate Student Association students are being turned away without being offered a waiting list place.

GSA Vice-President Kate Stephenson told Nouse: “The GSA has been raising the issue of a lack of available family housing on campus for the last two years and we are consistently told that there is no demand for extra housing of this kind. We are, however, regularly contacted by students with dependents who are really struggling to find somewhere to live in York.

“The University seems to be taking its figures for demand for family housing from a waiting list held by the Accommodation Office but students who contact the office are not offered the opportunity to be added to the waiting list, on raising this disconnect, we have been told that it might be a ‘training issue’. Really, what we’d like to see is greater transparency on the processes followed alongside some work into the real demand for family housing. This would then be able to properly inform the University’s strategic building plan which is being drawn up at the moment.”

As of September, there were 870 students with dependants, with around 40-50 houses allocated to family accommodation on campus. Students have struggled to find appropriate housing using private letting agents, complaining of a lack of University support. In the family network Facebook group, a student commented: “finding housing for me and my son was INCREDIBLY difficult…more has to be done to help home students find accommodation off campus”.

A student landlord commented: “I was told [by the University] to advertise with YorProperty, but it does not have a special section for student families…I feel personally let down by the University”.

A University spokesperson commented: “We have a family allocation policy which gives priority to new international students. There has been a decline in the number of students applying and as a result 13 families are able to stay in their University house for 2017/18. There was an occasion when a continuing student inquired about family accommodation and was not invited to apply. They were put onto the waiting list as soon as we were made aware. As we are not yet in a position to assist continuing students, the student has not been disadvantaged.”

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