‘It’s not ideal’: Meet the Edi students communally living in Pollock’s common rooms
They say that the university needs to do more to help with the accommodation crisis among its students
There are currently dozens of students living in bunk beds across Pollock Halls’ common rooms – it comes as a result of the accommodation crisis leaving students across all years without somewhere to live during their studies. Shockingly to both myself and many of the Pollock residents I asked, nobody seems to know it’s going on.
Up to six people can live in these communal dorms. The rooms are cramped, lack privacy and are right next door to the main common rooms – which a lot of freshers are (understandably) using to socialise and meet other people, meaning the people who live in them are dealing with noise 24/7.
These rooms are given to students that have contacted the uni to report that they have not got anywhere to live while they continue with their studies.
One Pollock resident, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed that they had no idea that up to 6 people were living in the common room across from their bedroom door. They found it absurd that the university didn’t alert them that this was going on meters from where she lives.
The people who kindly let us in to show us their rooms also find the situation very difficult. One resident, who also asked to be anonymous, explained their feelings to us:
“I feel almost lucky – a lot of the people who asked the uni [for help] didn’t get anything. They even told one of my friends to defer. After the stress of trying to find a flat, it was kind of a relief.”
Interestingly, this sense of relief was shared among the others we talked to. There was definitely a sense of trying to make the most out of a very negative situation.
They told us that they have now secured a flat – for £700 a month each. They said that they applied to many flats but lost them due to other students outbidding them by offering hundreds more in rent payments.
The clash between the Pollock residents and emergency accommodation residents was apparent – everyone we talked to expressed that they didn’t want to take away the fresher’s experience of common room pres, but equally, they had to have a quiet environment to work and sleep in.
The person we spoke to echoed this:
“[My roommate] filed a noise complaint, and they locked the door to [the main] common room for the weekend. But we still had residents coming on our door at night, asking why they couldn’t get it.”
We also went to another house and found even more residents living in emergency accommodation. One also echoed the thoughts and feelings of everyone else:
“The uni gave us twelve hours to sign a lease and pay for [this accommodation]. You also can’t cancel it, so if you found a flat, you’re stuck here. So, it was £200 that I had to pay immediately. It’s not ideal, but I’ve got a place to live.”
They went on to explain that an American girl arrived in Edinburgh to complete her year abroad – she hadn’t found anywhere to live, so the University gave her a bed in Pollock. She had to leave as she found the experience so stressful and upsetting, moving to an Airbnb instead. They also explained that everyone currently living in emergency accommodation in Pollock had to move out by the 30th of September – whether they had found a new place to live or not. Some are being moved to Shrubhill as a last resort.
Everyone we spoke to agreed that the University has to do more to help students who were struggling to find a place to live. The accommodation crisis for students is rife in many other UK cities – bidding, overpaying and even just resorting to communal living in student accommodation seems like the new norm. Coupled with a cost of living crisis, student bills will go up exponentially.
In full, a spokesperson for The University of Edinburgh told The Edinburgh Tab:
“We are acutely aware that some students have been struggling to find suitable accommodation in Edinburgh. We want to support them throughout this increasingly challenging period and have opened an Accommodation Information Service in collaboration with our Students’ Association. The service aims to help any of our students who are having difficulties finding accommodation at the start of the semester, and we are doing everything we can to support anyone that contacts us for help.
“All students who met the requirements of our accommodation guarantee have been offered a place in University residences this year. We have also been in a position to provide offers of accommodation to more than 2,600 students over and above our guaranteed places.
“We provided temporary accommodation within our halls of residences for some students that didn’t fall within our accommodation guarantee, after they informed us that they had not secured a place to live at the start of the semester. This was a short-term option to support these students while they found a more permanent place to live. All 24 students who took up this option have now been offered a permanent room at the University.
“We have a small number of students yet to arrive in Edinburgh who have an accommodation contract with us, and we are prioritising offering any further rooms to students who are still urgently seeking a place to live.
“Students looking for private sector accommodation are competing with Edinburgh’s expanding workforce as well as visitors who are attracted to short-term lets across the city. Even though these factors are largely outside the University’s control, we understand that we have a part to play in finding solutions to the problem.
“We continue to work with our partner organisations across the city including the City of Edinburgh Council and other higher and further education providers to refresh our longer term accommodation strategy. In the short-term we have just opened a new refurbished building in Gilmore Place in central Edinburgh which can accommodate 230 students.”
For background: students who opted for the short-term accommodation in our halls of residence were charged £9.60 per night, which included breakfast and dinner.
More information on our accommodation provision can be found here:
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