The Universities Minister has demanded that providers of student accommodation urgently resolve the problems at more than 20 new specialist housing schemes, where construction delays have left them uninhabitable.
Chris Skidmore MP met with the companies after a series of reports emerged in the media of students being put into temporary accommodation at the beginning of the autumn term. Some first year students were travelling over 20 miles to attend lectures and complained about receiving little or no support.
Undergraduates at Portsmouth, Bristol and Swansea were among those affected, when private housing blocks were not completed on time leaving hundreds without accommodation.
“Students can pay significant amounts for their accommodation and it is unacceptable to let them down at a stressful time,” said Skidmore. He described the situation as “awful and disappointing”, adding that accommodation problems could affect students’ welfare and mental health.
There have been concerns this autumn about how student housing is regulated and how value and quality can be assured. It is thought that roughly half of the accommodation is provided by universities and the remainder by private landlords and large institutions.
Universities UK said student accommodation increasingly involved private-sector organisations. “It is important that all providers meet high standards, demonstrate value, and are accountable to students,” said the universities’ organisation.
By Patrick Mooney, Editor