Glasgow Uni emails students advising them to drop out if they haven’t found housing yet
‘It made me feel alienated and excluded’
Glasgow University has emailed students advising them to “suspend” their studies or “withdraw” from the university if they haven’t found a place yet to live.
Students have struggled throughout the summer to find accommodation with the university admitting there is “increasingly limited accommodation” in the city.
In the email, the uni said failing to follow its advice could have “significant impacts” on the students, although it is not made clear what those impacts would be.
It reads: “If you have not yet secured accommodation in Glasgow the university is strongly advising students NOT to complete registration or enrolment or to travel to Glasgow until you have done so. Not following this advice may have significant impacts on you. It may be more appropriate for you to suspend your studies or withdraw.”
The university says there has been no significant increase in student numbers and that it has increased its number of rooms available by 25 per cent this year. It says the crisis is caused by a “contraction” in the private market and that “like most urban universities, we cannot guarantee accommodation for returning students”.
Third year Glasgow University student Grace says she’s already paid £20,000 in tuition fees and thinks the uni’s advice of not enrolling for the year shows “no regard” toward students well-being.
“They’re asking me to consider not continuing with my education. It’s a real shame that such an excellent uni has no regard for the well-being of its students,” the history and politics student said.
Layla* who wishes to remain anonymous is “hopefully” a Master’s student studying stem-cell engineering. She says “hopefully” as she is still looking for accommodation.
She told The Glasgow Tab: “The uncertainty has been traumatising, the university has left information about the housing crisis to the very last minute so it’s not possible to take up any other offers or make other arrangements,” she said.
The university has been in contact with students previously about the housing crisis. Emails seen by The Glasgow Tab show on 9th September, the university told students not to travel to the city if they hadn’t yet found accommodation.
This email was sent one day before Glasgow University’s ‘Welcome Week’, the university’s name for its Freshers’ Week.
The email provided a number of links to advice pages and referred students to the SU’s Advice Centre and their “Fearless Flat Hunting guide”. Beyond that, they told “concerned” students to email their “Adviser of Studies” or “Programme Convenor”.
Raveena, an undergrad in neuroscience argued this is not good enough. She said: “It’s ridiculous, we’re paying so much to come and they should be more helpful and understanding! Why can’t they rent or buy existing buildings or be more prepared?”
On their website, Glasgow University says it has “significantly increased bedspaces” this year and blames the shortage on the city as there’s been “no significant additional capacity in the city”. The university also told The Glasgow Tab, it is currently housing 30 students in hotel beds across the city until the end of the month to help them find accommodation.
For lots of students, having had enough of online uni during Covid, they’ve decided to ignore the university’s advice and chosen to commute rather than defer or withdraw from their studies.
However unlike during Covid, most lectures are online this year. We asked some of those students about the commutes they are making as a result of the Glasgow accommodation crisis and the impact it will have on them.
“I spend more time on trains and in train stations than I do at uni,” says Alex, a postgrad in translation studies, “I also can’t have a social life because of the last trains so I feel so out of everything. The uni’s response has been absolutely shocking, saying that they can’t help out when I believe they’re partly to blame for the crisis.”
A University of Glasgow spokesperson said: “Regrettably, due to a significant contraction in the private rental market, demand for rooms continues to be substantially ahead of expectation both in Glasgow and more broadly across the UK. Like most urban universities, we cannot guarantee accommodation for returning students.
“As part of our efforts to address the issue, we have increased the number of rooms under University management by 25 per cent for this academic year. We have focused – as is our usual policy – on providing accommodation to first-year undergraduate students who live at a significant distance from our campus. There has been no significant increase in student numbers for this year.
“We have taken a number of rooms in hotels on a temporary basis till the end of the month to help students who are struggling to find residential accommodation. About 30 hotel beds are currently being used. We continue to advise students not to travel to Glasgow unless they have prearranged accommodation.
“To address issues with the availability of accommodation within Glasgow, we are already taking steps to increase accommodation provision for future years and we are continuing to engage with private providers and with local government on issues with the city’s private rental market.
“We understand the concern students have about finding accommodation for the new semester, and we are taking a number of actions to support our students and ensure continuity of learning wherever possible. In some cases, our advice may include pausing studies for this academic year while ensuring students continue to have access to University systems and services. Comprehensive advice is available from students’ advisers of study and the Students’ Representative Council Advice Centre, which has also been providing advice to students on house hunting.”