The Suite Life – the homeless Glasgow Uni students living in hotels

‘It would be good if the uni could be more transparent about what they are offering’

As the fires of the housing crisis continue to rage throughout Glasgow, the university has began to place students in temporary emergency accommodation. Whilst many students have found themselves sofa-surfing, the uni has taken some unusual steps in attempting to house students. One solution? A seven-day stay in a four star hotel, free breakfast and a £100 meal voucher for food on campus.

Lily Chambers, a third year Product Design Engineering student, is just one of these students Glasgow University has housed in a hotel room. After sofa surfing for several months, she reached out to student run group Unhoused Students and Lily claimed it was thanks to them that she was able to get help.

Whilst the university themselves made no attempt to contact her in regards to her situation, Unhoused Students were able to put her in touch with the SRC who within a few hours had secured her a seven-day stay in the Marriott in Finneston.

Lily Chambers

She said:“I’ve been here for one week. It’s definitely better having a consistent place to sleep. It’s still very stressful trying to find a flat but at least I’m not changing locations every night.

“The uni has supplied the hotel room and breakfast and £100 credit to on campus food places. I think it’s very generous and I’m extremely grateful. I just wish it could have been implemented earlier and it would be good if the uni could be more transparent about what they are offering”.

Neve Mclean

Neve Mclean, a second year student at Glasgow, has been staying in a hotel in Charing Cross since September where she claimed the university has booked out over 100 rooms for students. She similarly told of the uni’s reluctance to intervene before she personally went into the SRC office and demanded to be put in temporary accommodation.

She claimed that whilst it was funny at first, she is finding the hotel to be quite a depressing place, and her lack of stability is having a major impact on her studies.

“Before I moved into the hotel, I was in a really bad way and could not commit to or engage in any of my learning. My mind was totally consumed by where I was staying that night or where I was staying long-term, if I wasn’t thinking about that I was just so sad and exhausted.”

Whilst she is enjoying hotel breakfasts and a warm bed, Lily too suggested there are some downsides to her new accommodation. With no kitchen, costs of ordering takeaways or picking up food on the go have stacked up. Her diet has also suffered with this inability to cook, where she has been living off instant noodles courtesy of the hotel kettle most nights.

Neve expressed similar concerns where she suggested that not having a kitchen leaves her skipping meals and living off library sandwiches. Furthermore, without a washing machine to hand and hotel laundry prices being out-of-question, Lily has resorted to doing her washing in the bathroom sink which she suggests is far from ideal. Both girls claim to be living in limbo, with no form of stability and their mental and physical health suffering as a consequence.

Whilst this may appear fun as a temporary solution, the housing crisis is far from a holiday. Lily and Neve, along with countless other students, fear the longer-term consequences of not being in permanent accommodation. Lily claimed despite searching Spare Room like it’s a full-time job, she has only managed to successfully get two viewings in the several months she has been searching. She has also been added to countless group chats full of worried students in the same position.

Lily suggested that whilst the university have currently booked her in for a one-week stay, her requests to extend this have so far been ignored and she won’t know until the day she is due to check out if they will continue to accommodate and support her. Whilst she has leads on a potential spare room becoming free in November, Lily is worried about the instability she will endure over the coming weeks until she finds somewhere more temporary to live.

Neve shares these concerns, claiming to have found a flat for November but with the astronomical rate for rent she fears her financial future. This unpredictability where students are living day-to-day unsure if they will have a roof over their heads is undoubtedly placing extra stress on many individuals.

Lily suggested that whilst she is grateful for the support the university has given her so far, she claimed it is the least they could do after oversubscribing students without thinking about the impact this would have on the housing situation.

Neve argued: “The university’s involvement in the creation of this crisis and their subsequent inaction has been ridiculous, and an insult to the students and staff here.”

She suggested they could be doing far more to support their unhoused students. “It took them three weeks to offer temporary and emergency housing on a university-wide scale, and three weeks to label it an ‘emergency’. However, the housing support service offered on Level Two of the Fraser Building has STILL only been advertised on Instagram, Twitter and the SRC newsletter.”

“The most pressing demand I am making of UofG is to immediately send out a university-wide email, with all the services on offer for those in unstable living situations. The last email they sent was the one in September telling us to drop out?! Well now, we’re still here and they’ve got to stop ignoring us! This email needs to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, advertise mental health support services as well as financial aid advice and a contact for applying for temporary, emergency housing.”

Still searching for accommodation? Students are able to visit the Fraser Building between 9am-4pm Monday to Friday where the university is providing “direct support and immediate help”. If you need help outside of these hours, you should contact the campus security at Gate House or call 0141 330 6887 or contact the SRC.

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 in Glasgow and more broadly across Scotland and the UK.

“Like most urban universities, we cannot guarantee accommodation for returning students.

“We understand the concern and stress about finding accommodation for the new semester and we want to reassure students that colleagues across the university are continuing to work to find solutions caused by the citywide shortage.

“As part of our efforts, we have increased the number of rooms under university management by 25% 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 this year.”

Related stories recommended by this author: