UWE suggests some students don’t mind being sent to live in Wales because it’s cheaper

Currently 127 students are commuting to uni in Bristol each day from Newport in South Wales


UWE has suggested some of its students don’t mind living in Wales and an hour commute away from their university because it’s “significantly cheaper”.

A spokesperson for UWE said the university has received “positive feedback from students living there” and is situated in a “vibrant student area” at “a significantly cheaper rate”.

This led some to accuse UWE’s comment of being out of touch. Last week it was reported students were dropping out of their degrees after being housed in Wales.


A spokesperson for UWE has since said the university’s comments were referring to two separate matters. One being that accommodation in Newport is significantly cheaper and the other that students who stayed there last year gave “positive feedback”.

Jennifer is a first year student currently studying business and events management who has been housed in Newport Student Village. She told The Bristol Tab she feels “disregarded” by the uni.

Jennifer is one of the 127 students enrolled at the University of the West of England who have been given housing in Newport because the university does not possess enough first year accommodation for all the students

Jennifer is a first year student currently studying business and events management who has been housed in Newport Student Village.

There are seven universities in Bristol and every year students struggle to find suitable housing, let alone affordable accommodation.

UWE Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve West told ITV last week: “In an ideal world I would love to create enough accommodation on our campus but I can only build as fast as planners will allow.”

The university defended its decision to house students in Wales because “Bristol is expensive”. “We have received positive feedback from students living there. The uni went on to say students living in Newport last year found it “well located”, “friendly” and “comfortable”.

The Newport Student Village offers different types of accommodation ranging between £125 and £201 a week. Jennifer told The Tab that she pays £131 a week to live in Newport. The cheapest accommodation at UWE is £111.10 a week.

With a rail card it costs £10 return and takes one hour and 15 minutes to get from Newport, South Wales, to Bristol Parkway station (the closest station to Frenchay Campus). Students would have to leave their house at 7.40am to make a 9am lecture.


Living far away from uni can be expensive and challenging for students and make it difficult for them to join in social activities with their friends in Bristol and meet new people which other freshers have the opportunity to do. 

Jennifer said: “I feel out of place when trying to make my way to clubs or when I am not able to go out with people from campus because it is an hour to get back home”.

UWE describes the location that the accommodation is situated in Newport as a “vibrant student area”. 

Jennifer described it slightly differently to The Bristol Tab. “We have a few older clubs for karaoke night…but not any clubs like Lakota or Motion.” The redeeming quality she mentions is: “We have a Wetherspoons thank god”.

Perhaps the “vibrant area” is referring to the Newport Magistrates’ Court opposite or the Castle Bingo located next door which could be a pensioner’s definition of fun. Waterfront facing rooms are also available for students if they’re lucky. 

Newport Student Village on the far right. Credit: Google Maps

UWE promised to “cover the cost of a three year 16-25 railcard and to pay for taxi fares to and from the accommodation and the railway station in Newport”. 

Students have to pay these costs upfront themselves and some have been having difficulties receiving the promised funds from the university. 

One Tiktok user who has been housed in Newport Student Village expressed their concern online said: “Hopefully I’ll still enjoy it if travel costs don’t bankrupt me”.

This week, train strikes also disrupted travel for students and although a temporary coach service was put in place, the coach was delayed by an hour which led some students to miss their lectures. 

Jennifer also revealed although students were informed they would be collected at 5:30pm, the coach actually left at 5pm and meant “students were stranded…and had to book cabs home or find somewhere else to stay due to the train strikes”.

A spokesperson for UWE said: “Residents at the Newport accommodation who wish to be released from their accommodation contracts will be released if they find accommodation in Bristol. There is no obligation for departing students to find a replacement tenant for their room in Newport. As of the end of last week, there were 127 students living at the accommodation in Newport.

“Due to the increase in demand for on-campus living, UWE Bristol is building more accommodation on Frenchay Campus for an additional 2,250 students, with the first 900 rooms available from September 2023.

“As part of a travel support package offered to students living in the Newport accommodation, the university has agreed to cover the cost of a three year 16-25 railcard and to pay for taxi fares to and from the accommodation and the railway station in Newport. Students will need to contact the university for a reimbursement on their railcard. Students will not be charged for taxi journeys to and from the station, provided they are booked in advance (the night before) via Dragon Taxis. We understand that a number of students have experienced difficulties with the reimbursement process – we will work with these students to ensure they are fully reimbursed.

“Regrettably, the coach was late departing Newport on Wednesday morning as a result of delays caused by the closure of the M48 Severn Bridge due to high winds and an accident on the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge. There are no plans to introduce a daily coach service from the accommodation to Frenchay campus in Bristol.

“Bristol has become an increasingly popular city to live in. This, combined with the also increasing demand for university places and the rise in the cost of living, has placed additional pressure on our accommodation and the rental market in the city.

“We recognise that living in a city such as Bristol is expensive, which is why we provide options for students who may wish to consider living within commutable distance instead, at a significantly cheaper rate. The Newport accommodation is within walking distance of a train station with good links to the city. The accommodation is situated in a vibrant student area, and we have received positive feedback from students living there in the 2021-22 academic year.”

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