York’s universities are back in full swing this week as students return to the city to begin their studies, however this means a 72-mile round trip for dozens of new students.
Students offered a place at the University of York in September applied for accommodation in halls. For most, a space in accommodation was found, however for some 150 undergraduates offered a place either later or through clearing, finding accommodation for their first year has proven hard to come by. Due to over-subscription on some courses and a higher uptake of places, these students have been offered rooms in Hull, 36 miles away, adjacent to the University of Hull’s campus.
Monty, a first year student told the York Press: “I applied to York through clearing and was fortunate enough to receive an offer. Weeks passed without hearing anything from the accommodation team, which was rather unsettling. I then received an email that said how York was unable to find any student accommodation in the city itself, neither private nor halls. I know that they have been massively oversubscribed this year and that’s why we are in this situation but I still don’t have a place to live in York. As you can probably imagine, I’m not most pleased about it.”
Bosses at the University told the BBC that they have promised free travel by providing a shuttle bus and a 10% discount on rent for those affected and stated that they were: “Very sorry for the inconvenience” and blamed the over-subscription of some courses and that they were working to find additional rooms, promising new campus accommodation by January 2022.
Alison Bishop, a parent of another of the students affected told BBC News: “We were told we’d hear by the 10 August and first years would be guaranteed accommodation if they applied by 27 July.”
She went on to say that: “The dedicated phone line was turned off and no-one was answering emails for a time, so everyone had six weeks to find accommodation. It just feels greedy that the university are happy to give Rhys a place and take £9,000 fees but don’t really care where he lives.”
In a statement to YorkMix, Steve Secker of York Property Forum said that York’s evident lack of affordable housing and accommodation was due to the City of York Council’s delaying of the Local Plan, which would outline where new housing and businesses can be built.
This has had a significant affect on the private housing sector, leading to issues in finding accommodation, for not only students but many others within the community in general. According to an article in the Yorkshire Post in July, just 19 new affordable houses are built a year in York and that the council’s housing register has risen to around 1,800 waiting for a home.
The issues of securing accommodation for students has not only occurred in York however. According to an article by BBC News in August 2021, 300 students at Bristol University had to stay 13 miles away in Bath and two years ago were put up in Newport some 30 miles away from the university.