118 students living in Willoughby Hall made to move out until at least Easter

They were given only two days notice to move out


118 students living in Willoughby Hall this year have been forced to move out until Easter, with only two days notice, due to a fire safety issue.

The 118 students who live in the main building of the hall received an email from University of Nottingham on Monday 25th October informing them that they would have to vacate the building and be transferred to alternative accommodation by Wednesday of the same week, only two days away.

One first year student claims she was told by the staff that if she failed to move out by the specified deadline then she would be “kicked out”.

The email outlined that in recent checks carried out, a fire safety issue had been identified meaning that builders needed to come in straight away to carry out fundamental work on the building. The email said: “This work will be noisy and disruptive and so we have taken the decision to move you into alternative accommodation while this is being completed.”

This is not the first time that UoN students have experienced something similar. The Tab Notts reported in October 2020 how 400 freshers in Newark Hall were made to move out due to a similar fire safety issue requiring building work.

UoN instructed the students via email that the alternative accommodation would be provided on a first come, first served basis and that they would have to remain there until at least Easter.

Hugo Lessing, a fresher living in Willoughby Hall at the time, told The Tab Notts how when the email was sent out at about 11am, many students were in lectures at the time meaning that they had to leave their classes early and began running back to the hall in order to ensure their place in the queue for the new accommodation.

Hugo expressed his annoyance that although the email stated there would be some choice and discussion in which new accommodation each student could move into, this was not the case and that he was just placed somewhere without a say, despite being at the front of the queue. He also described how people were crying due to friendship groups being split up and placed in different halls.

Charlie, first year Sociology and Social Politics, told The Tab Notts that alongside the short notice to move out, the students were only provided with five cardboard boxes each which they were expected to fit all their belongings into.

Charlie said: “We received very little sympathy from the staff and the university for the situation we had been put in and our ‘compensation’ consisted of Mini Reese’s Cups.

“It was a stressful few days and was such a shame for everyone as we had all just settled into our hall and made friends, we now have all been split up and have to attempt to make new friends in our new halls.”

On the day of the move, Wednesday 27th October, students were told that they would have to vacate the building by 11am however due to a lack in arranged taxis by the university, the last student did not leave Willoughby Hall until 4pm, with students  calling the departure service “poorly managed” and staff “incompetent”.

University of Nottingham told The Tab Notts that halls are routinely checked for planned maintenance and that the halls are safe to be occupied. The university said in the next week the students from Willoughby Hall will be contacted about receiving financial compensation.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: “In addition to routine maintenance checks and annual fire risk assessments as required by law, our halls of residence have undergone thorough investigations to assess and prioritise works for our refurbishment programme. “During the check on Willoughby Hall issues were discovered with the passive fire control measures. The health and safety of students and staff is our priority and as soon as these issues were discovered, mitigation measures were put into place and the appropriate authorities were notified.

“Though the Hall is safe for residents, the works required will be noisy and disruptive and so we have taken the decision to temporarily move students into alternative accommodation as this is progressed. We have apologised to all students affected and have tried to keep friendship groups together wherever possible. We will be offering financial compensation to help them settle into their new home.”

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