Students at Glasgow University who are unable to find accommodation have been advised by the institution to consider deferring or withdrawing from their studies.
Despite securing a place at the university, students could miss out on their “top choices” due to a lack of assured places for them to live.
The situation has been described as “a real crisis” by some of the students affected.
The University of Glasgow said it was taking a number of steps to support students, but it has been accused of “not caring” by students advised to quit.
Due to a shortage of available flats and soaring rents, returning students have struggled to find accommodation. The university has said demand for rooms “continues to be substantially ahead of expectation both in Glasgow and more broadly across the UK”.
It added that it had increased the number of rooms under its management by 25% and was “already taking steps to increase accommodation provision for future years”. However, it added that the number of available private flats in the city had decreased.
It denied that this was due to accepting too many students from outside Scotland.
In one email from the university, sent on 9 September, students were advised “do not travel to Glasgow” unless their accommodation is in place.
In another, an advising team told a student: “If you have not yet secured accommodation in Glasgow the university is strongly advising students NOT to complete registration or enrolment or travel to Glasgow until you have done so. Not following this advice may have a significant impact on you. It may be more appropriate for you to suspend your studies or withdraw.”
Kirshen Chadwick-Patel, a second-year business management with politics student at Glasgow, said: “They don’t care about our education and they don’t care about us, because we want to finish our degree. They’ve done nothing at all in terms of the welfare of students.
“There are so many students who are sofa-surfing or are houseless and have nowhere to go.”
He urged the university to do more to help: “For now, anywhere the university could find to put us – whether it is in the vicinity or commutable – just a bed to sleep in basically.
“In the long term the government needs to do something about letting laws, to relax the market and make it easier for students to get flats. It has also got to be about building more student accommodation.”
“In a normal world, first-year students should have student accommodation that’s affordable and it should be available to move into.”
–Leòdhas Massie, Greens councillor for Newlands and Auldburn
Leòdhas Massie, Greens councillor for Newlands and Auldburn, said the lack of student accommodation that is affordable and available “has a massive impact on the rental market for everybody”.
He said: “It’s obviously not the students’ fault. I find it even harder to try and get a long-term tenancy, because there’s a massive influx of students.”
“In a normal world, first-year students should have student accommodation that’s affordable and it should be available to move into.
“It is at the moment, neither affordable nor available to a lot of them.”
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.
They added: “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.”