Row over accommodation for international students

Recent cuts in University accommodation has ignited controversy on campus over the prioritisation of international students in room allocation.

At an SU Executive meeting, Lucy Wickham and Micky Masefield, Langwith and Vanbrugh JCRC Chairs, expressed disapproval about the current policy of prioritisation in the light of current room shortages.

Only 500 rooms will be available on campus for second and third years from next October, 250 of which will be automatically allocated to international students and those with disabilities. This leaves 500 students without housing.

A recent poll carried out by Nouse revealed that 38% of students would describe the prioritisation of international students as “unfair”.

Shiraz Lafhajz of Halifax College said on Friday: “Fair enough they need support, but they can all speak English. I’ve been stuffed. I was holding back private sector accommodation but I had to let it go on the assurance that I’d be given a room on campus, which I ultimately wasn’t. I have nowhere to live.”

Steve Page, the University Student Support Officer, said on Friday: “From a student support point of view, there are two main reasons for giving international students priority. First that some international students will really struggle to provide the kind of financial guarantors that landlords are looking for, and second that they won’t understand the system in the housing market, so they’re at times more vulnerable to being taken advantage of.”

The International Representative for Alcuin, Lewis Rujirawirote, described this approach as “patronising”, adding “International students are perfectly capable of finding housing, especially in our second and third years”.

Tom Stratton, the JCRC Chair of Alcuin, said on Sunday: “The fact of the matter is that priority has to be given to those who need [accommodation] most. A better system needs to be implemented, involving liaison between the colleges, which ensures that no-one falls through the housing gap.”