‘I don’t know what’s going to happen’: Stress amongst Bristol students as they struggle to find housing

The Tab looks into how the competitive housing market impacts the wellbeing of students

The term crisis seems to be connected to every sphere of life at the moment, but its looming presence in “Student Housing Crisis” is not one to overlook. With the cost of living rising and student loans not climbing with it, rent is becoming increasingly difficult to afford.

University intake is increasing and there is now a 25 per cent shortage of beds for students in Bristol. So even if you can afford the £700 a month for a single bed and damp decorated walls, you may have to fight to get it.

The Bristol Tab has interviewed two second year students at the University of Bristol to see the impact this crisis is having on students’ mental health.

A second year engineering student explained that she is still looking for housing for 2023/2024, despite having started the hunt in December.

Looking for a four-bed house when you have an equal split of genders, UK-based guarantors and experience of the housing market seems like an achievable task, but apparently there are even more boxes to tick.

Being from Romania yet having lived here for six years and having settled status, she has still had applications turned down for not having a British passport. Furthermore, application forms are now asking for your relationship with your guarantor, which in her experience led to problems when the description was not of a parent-child form.

Reflecting on the effect this has had on her mental health, her mindset for the future seemed to be the most impacted. When asked how she feels about the future she said: “The excitement for third year is the biggest issue because at the moment I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

It has also led to a lack of concentration in lectures, worrying about missing out on the latest postings as most viewings are getting booked up within 10 minutes.

The University of Bristol had a six per cent growth in numbers for the 2021/2022 academic year, which is an extra 2,006 students. Yet the uni’s 2022 annual report only stated that 300 additional beds had been secured.

We spoke to another second year student who is currently close to securing a nine-bed house. He shared with The Bristol Tab his experience of the tumultuous nature of student house hunting.

His group secured a place two months ago but within this time two members had to drop out, for financial reasons and years abroad. To complete the tenancy they must now find new housemates, which has led to last-minute stress and occupied a lot of time.

After putting up a Facebook ad they conducted 12 interviews within one day, meeting people in person and online. One thing that came as a surprise was the number of prospective first years applying for rooms, perhaps in response to the rising cost of university run student accommodation.

Therefore, it seems as if rising housing costs are not only affecting current students but prospective ones too.

Worrying about a roof over your head is not something anyone should have to endure, yet it is becoming increasingly common among university students.

In times like this reaching out to friends and networks can bring comfort and support, however, a greater effort from institutions to provide accessible and affordable housing is needed.

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