UK

Students accuse Bristol University of ‘profit-chasing’ as hundreds will have to live in Bath

Hundreds of students joining the University of Bristol in a month have been left fuming after being told they may be given housing in Bath as there are not enough rooms available in the city due to ‘high demand’.

Undergraduate students who have applied to the University of Bristol through Erasmus or clearing may find they will be housed in a nearby town this academic year.

Returning students and first-year pupils who put Bristol as their insurance choice could also miss out on the chance to live in the vibrant city this year due to increased demand.

A notice on the University of Bristol’s accommodation webpage said they are unable to guarantee University-allocated housing in these cases, and even if a room is available, it may be in Bath.

Students who put the University down as their first choice and firmly accepted their place will still be given guaranteed accommodation in Bristol, but others have been left fuming as they are told they may not get to live in their city of choice.

Around 300 undergraduate students may be faced with train or bus journeys from Bath to the University of Bristol that could last around one hour, or a 45-minute car commute.

Bath and North East Somerset Council has also expressed ‘alarm’ at the University’s decision to house some students in Bath, saying it had not been ‘informed’.

Undergraduate students who have applied to the University of Bristol (pictured) through Erasmus or clearing may find they will be housed in Bath this academic year

The University of Bristol’s notice on their website read: ‘For all non-guaranteed applicants, we cannot guarantee to make you a University-allocated accommodation offer. 

‘If we do have a room available to offer, it is likely to be a shared room or accommodation in a neighbouring town or suburb, such as Bath.’

The University of Bristol was quick to add that they are trying to house as many students as they can in Bristol, and said the final number of students in Bath could be ‘much lower’ than expected.

Students given housing outside Bristol will receive a bursary of up to £500 per term for travel expenses, and the University will offer pastoral support.

But some students are furious at the news, arguing the lengthy commute will not be manageable, and even suggesting the University is cashing in with increased student numbers.

Teacher-assessed grades saw 75 per cent of students meeting the requirements of their offer to study at the University of Bristol, an increase from the 46 per cent pre-pandemic average, Epigram reported. 

Fuming second-year Bristol student Anna Lart-Greene told Bristol Live: ‘It’s not fair on students or locals. Distance-wise, it’s the equivalent of Uni of Manchester housing students in Bolton, or Nottingham housing them in Loughborough.’ 

Taking to Twitter, another person raged: ‘Ruthless, profit-chasing university expansion means that the University of Bristol is housing first year students out in Bath. 

A notice on the University of Bristol's website said they are unable to guarantee University-allocated accommodation, and even if a room is available, it may be in a neighbouring town

A notice on the University of Bristol’s website said they are unable to guarantee University-allocated accommodation, and even if a room is available, it may be in a neighbouring town

‘Students have communities too by the way, and they’re an essential part of the university experience.’ 

One Bath resident said: ‘Obviously a big upgrade for University of Bristol students to live in gorgeous Bath. Not sure our already overwhelmed jewel of a city needs more students.’

Another person penned: ‘It’s astonishing that you could go to the University of Bristol for three years and never live there. I mean surely the city is part of the draw? 

‘Still, I suppose it could forge a sort of outsider camaraderie. I wonder when is the last train to Bath at night?’ 

Students in Bath also expressed their concerns that there would not be any room for Bristol students as well, as the city already houses the University of Bath and Bath Spa University.

One wrote: ‘As a student in Bath I can confirm there is very little room for students of Uni of Bath / Bath Spa let alone Bristol students too’

Another angrily said: ‘Thanks, Bristol uni, for sending your students to live in Bath, which has two unis of its own. THERE’S ALREADY NOT ENOUGH NON-STUDENT HOUSES HERE!’

Meanwhile, Bath and North East Somerset Council shared ‘concern’ that the University of Bristol would be housing some first-year students in Bath, insisting it had not been ‘informed or consulted’.

Councillor Tom Davies said the influx of students would have an impact on the pressures of ‘local housing’, but the University of Bristol insisted that the rooms would be leased from Bath Spa University.

But some students are furious by the news, who have argued the lengthy commute would not be manageable, and suggested the University is cashing in with increased student numbers

But some students are furious by the news, who have argued the lengthy commute would not be manageable, and suggested the University is cashing in with increased student numbers

Mr Davies, cabinet member for Adult Services and Council House Building, said: ‘We are alarmed and concerned about reports, including information placed on their website, that the University of Bristol is suggesting offering accommodation to new students in our area from the start of next term. 

‘We have neither been informed nor consulted on this and we are therefore seeking urgent clarification from the University about their position. 

‘Any decision by the University to accommodate students in our area would have very significant implications for our communities, especially given the existing pressures on local housing. 

‘Students deserve good, local accessible accommodation and it is for the University to make appropriate plans for this. Local residents should not bear the brunt of any lack of preparation by the University of Bristol for the new academic year.’

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: ‘Like many other universities, we have had particularly high demand for places in student residences this year.

‘Students who had firmly accepted an offer to study here and made us their first choice are guaranteed a place in university-allocated accommodation in Bristol.

‘Those who put Bristol as an insurance offer, or are returning, may be offered the option of low-cost shared rooms or accommodation nearby in Bath. 

‘We are also providing support and advice to students if they wish to find private accommodation in Bristol.

‘We have the option to house around 300 students in Bath if needed. However, we are doing our best to accommodate as many students as we can in Bristol, so the final number could be much lower.

Around 300 undergraduate students may be faced with train or bus journeys from Bath (pictured) to the University that could last around one hour, or a 45-minute car commute

Around 300 undergraduate students may be faced with train or bus journeys from Bath (pictured) to the University that could last around one hour, or a 45-minute car commute

‘All beds will be in purpose-built student accommodation, with the majority of these in residences leased from Bath Spa University. The remainder, if required, will be provided in existing, private student accommodation in the city.

‘Students will get a free travel bursary and will have access to our pastoral services including on-site support.’

Meanwhile, applicants from a small array of courses at the University of Bristol are also being offered financial incentives to defer their studies until September 2022.

The small number of applicants will get a £7,000 rent reduction for guaranteed accommodation, plus a £3,600 bursary for their first year at the University. 

This year, the total number of students accepted on to UK degree courses has risen five per cent on the same point last year, with 435,430 taking up places so far, initial Ucas figures show.

But on the most popular courses, up to a third of students may be rejected or have to go through clearing due to the number of people getting the required grades.  

Nearly half of all A-level students received A* or A from their teachers, with 44.8 per cent of UK entries awarded an A or A* grade this summer – up by 6.3 percentage points on last year when 38.5 per cent achieved the top grades.

According to an analysis by Ofqual, 6.9 per cent of students in England were awarded three A*s this year – compared with 4.3 per cent in 2020 and 1.6 per cent in 2019, the last time they sat exams, as critics warned the education system had descended into the ‘wild west of grading’.

Overall, the proportion of entries awarded the top A* grade this year has surged to 19.1 per cent – the highest proportion since the top grade was first introduced in 2010.


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