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Many students expressed concern last week over the difficulties of finding on-campus accommodation for the next academic year. A large number have found themselves on the waiting list for accommodation, leaving them stuck between waiting in queues or looking for alternative arrangements in town.
Added to this, students were worried that the number of houses available to rent from LUSU Housing was lower than in previous years. This problem was exacerbated by an influx of students from the University of Cumbria, as their Ambleside campus made no accommodation available this year.
However, Torri Crapper, LUSU VP (Equality, Welfare and Diversity), wished to calm people’s worries. She stressed that “the problem isn’t as large as we first expected. My advice would be not to panic.”
Crapper went on to explain that those on University waiting lists should wait a little longer and that there will be houses from private landlords available which will come up in the next few weeks.
On campus, the worst affected colleges were the three largest: Lonsdale, Cartmel and County, with hundreds of students waiting to be accommodated. Some students felt that they were being ‘pushed out’ into town to make way for Freshers for the 2010-11 academic year, who will be paying a larger sum over the year to take advantage of the new catered accommodation scheme, bringing extra revenue to the University.
This does not, however, appear to be the case. The 200 rooms which have been allocated for catering are being deducted from the usual quota allocated to Freshers at the start of the year, and will not result in a lower number of available rooms for continuers.
What may result in a squeeze in on-campus places for students in all years is the University’s continuing drive to increase the number of overseas students studying at Lancaster. These students are guaranteed a place on campus each year and, with numbers expected to increase to over 20% of the total student population by 2015, there will be a significant strain on the ability for colleges to accommodate students from the UK, especially if it continues to also guarantee places for Freshers.
In line with this, continuing students have expressed outrage at the phenomenal rise in rent in some colleges as the weekly figures come close to £100. For fourth year students this represents a rise of over 10% in real terms since they arrived at Lancaster, a burden they could not have predicted.
It is notable that these issues have been raised before at Lancaster, with housing being a recurring problem for students. Next week LUSU will be holding a landlords forum at which they hope they will be able to solve any remaining concerns that students may have.