University flops beds test as students head to hotels
FORTY first-year students at Edinburgh University are to be given emergency accommodation in Travelodge hotels and makeshift dormitories after the institution again failed to honour guarantees on housing.
Full-time first-year undergraduates living outside the city are normally guaranteed a place in university accommodation for their first year, provided that they submit their application to Accommodation Services by the set deadlines.
However, days before the start of term, the university has admitted that alternative accommodation has had to be sourced, despite the university purchasing more than 1000 beds in privately-operated student residences such as Unite.
This is the second year running the university has faced problems finding accommodation for first-year students.
Common areas in Pollock Halls will now be used to house 17 students in “mini-dorms”, while a further 23 are to be housed in Travelodge hotels at Cameron Toll and St Mary’s Street.
A university spokesman said the Travelodges had been chosen for their proximity to the university and because they had the capacity for the students to be housed together, adding: “We recognise that this is a serious issue for those affected and we apologise for the inconvenience caused. We expect to have all students accommodated as planned within 30 days.”
The spokesman added that the total cost of the venture would not be known until all the students had been successfully rehoused.
A Travelodge spokesman said that room prices vary depending on how far in advance bookings are made and when they are made for. Based on the price of £29 per room, one of the cheapest advertised on its website, housing the 23 students would cost £667 per day – and more than £20,000 if the arrangement continued for the full 30 days.
Edinburgh University Students’ Association president James McAsh, below, said the university needed to re-evaluate its priorities. He said: “It is worth noting that the number of beds in Masson House, which is operated by the university’s commercial wing and is currently being used for private conference accommodation, is greater than the total number of students who are being put into temporary accommodation.
“The university needs to stop prioritising corporate ventures over its students.”
In September last year, it was revealed that more than 60 first-year students were being housed at Queen Margaret University halls, on the outskirts of Musselburgh, resulting in 40-minute commutes to classes.
In January, new rector Peter McColl said he was “shocked” to discover that rooms were being used for guests attending conferences while this disruption was taking place, and called for a review.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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