Lecturers asked to put up students in university digs crisis

At the University of Lincoln, 150 students are still sleeping in portable cabins in a temporary 'student village', while a further 50 are being housed in a local hotel

Charlie Cooper
Friday 23 September 2011 00:40

Hundreds of students are still in temporary accommodation or sharing rooms, after a chaotic Freshers Week in which many universities have struggled to house students promised a place in halls of residence.

At the University of Lincoln, 150 students are still sleeping in portable cabins in a temporary "student village" on campus. Accommodation services at the university were so desperate ahead of Freshers Week, that they called lecturers in the hope of putting students up in spare rooms. A further 50 students are being housed in a local hotel.

Aberystwyth University, Edge Hill University in Lancashire and Trinity St David's in Wales were also among those struggling to cope with a surplus of new starters. The scramble for places led to criticism of the way universities recruit students.

Pete Mercer, vice-president of the National Union of Students said: "Universities should not offer places to new students when there is not enough local and affordable accommodation in either university or private premises. Accommodation is a vital part of the university experience."

Lincoln University said it was beginning to move students in to permanent accommodation left by students who have dropped out. The cabins – some of which are shared – have radiators, running water and electricity.

Successful applications to UK universities were up more than 10,000 from last year, according to Ucas, with 486,645 people accepted on a course. Many institutions have struggled to cope with demand, as students flock to university in the final year before tuition fees are increased next year.

Some 270 students at the Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire, have taken up residence at a nearby Pontins holiday camp, 25 minutes from campus. The university has 25,000 students but only provides campus accommodation for about 1,000. A spokesman blamed the increase in applications.

Aberystwyth University has introduced shared rooms with bunk beds for the first time to plug the accommodation gap. At Falmouth University, sharing has been advertised as a positive, budget choice after a number of students, forced into double rooms by an accommodation shortage last year, refused to move to more expensive single accommodation.

At the University of Wales' Trinity St David's college, living areas have been converted into bedrooms to make room for extra students.

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