Delay in building work leaves undergraduates homeless

Nearly 200 new university students have been forced to spend freshers' week up to 20 miles from campus because a building firm failed to complete their hall of residence in time.

The National Union of Students said the failure of Unite, a private company which provides student accommodation, to complete its new Grand Central building in Liverpool raised new doubts about the involvement of private firms in education. The company had originally planned to move 500 students on Saturday from Liverpool University and the city's former polytechnic, now Liverpool John Moores University, into rooms in a new building opposite Lime Street station costing up to £95 a week.

However, 195 students are likely to be forced to stay in hotels, at the company's expense, until at least the end of this week after builders failed to finish work on time.

Despite the building being incomplete, the company attempted to move some students in on Saturday night. A few hours later, the second floor flooded because of a blocked drain and the undergraduates had to be evacuated.

Verity Coyle, NUS Welfare Vice President, warned that the company's delays meant students were missing out on a vital opportunity to settle in and make friends. She added it was unacceptable some students had been forced to stay in a hotel 20 miles away.

Nick Porter, the chief executive of Unite said: "It is extremely regrettable some students have been delayed.

"We apologise unreservedly to our customers who have been temporarily affected and we are doing our level best to ensure that our customers come first and any further disruption is minimised."

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