Last year nearly 150 Glasgow University students were forced into unfinished accommodation in the East End, because of an oversubscription of halls allocation.
Due to the large number of new students needing housing, the majority were made to share rooms and sleep in bunk beds. Students had to live with faulty and unsafe lodgings for their first few months at University, as the building work that had been rushed to be finished before the September intake led to numerous problems throughout the year.
Most rooms appeared to be intended for a single occupants, yet they were often inhabited by two students. After the first room inspections were carried out by the University, roughly four months into the academic year, two students were relocated as their room was deemed too small for two people to live in. Bunk beds also meant overnight guests were not permitted for the whole of first year, when all other student halls allow overnight guests to stay for up to three days.
Dale Stinson stayed in a shared room and commented: “The room was a joke. In some parts i could stretch and touch both walls, and i’m under 6 foot. It definitely wasn’t fit for two people”. Stinson contacted the University, who failed to reply to any of his emails, yet swiftly moved him into a larger room as soon as one became available. Stinson claims the University was definitely aware that the size of the rooms were too small.
There were also problems with the way the building work was rushed through for the September intake, which caused multiple problems throughout the year.
One psychology student claimed: “They obviously weren’t prepared for us, the common room was had nothing but a mattress dragged in from the street, the internet didn’t work for the first few months and even then it was faulty, so students even missed deadlines because it was down for days.”
Many of the cookers suffered from dangerous electrical faults after it was found that the builders had miswired and cut corners in the electrics in order to meet the September deadline.
St Andrew’s Courts, referred to as STAC by its inhabitants, also suffered from severe security problems throughout the year.
The first security guard hired by Fortis, the owners of the accommodation, flirted and sent inappropriate messages to multiple students. He was later fired and replaced with one who was not fluent in English and was accused by one student of “taking rules too far.” Eilish Finlay, a psychology and French student claimed: “He was constantly over the top, he would come in uninvited and switch our films off, he refused to let my boyfriend stay even after being signed in 24 hours in advance, leaving us out in the street, hours away from his accommodation at 3am in the morning.”
Another University of Glasgow student, Conan O’Brien, commented on Google reviews that one particular guard would: “Listen outside rooms, record from outside rooms with an electronic recorder, pick on individuals and follow them and hang about outside their rooms for extended periods of time, and even come into rooms, uninvited at night using his master key, due to ‘hunches’ he has.”
In addition to this, the residence was supposed to have 24-hour security, with CCTV on every floor. However, many students felt unsafe after a 17 year old student and his two visitors were assaulted in the common room by three non-students who had gained access to the building.
Furthermore, those who opted to stay in STAC over the summer complained to the Glasgow Guardian that all security stopped. One international student who wishes to remain anonymous claims: “The Commonwealth games were horrible times… it was scary to go out of my room, over nine times drunk men attempted to crash into my room.”
Students who stayed at STAC also argue that the halls were falsely advertised. They advertise “high spec
bathroom fittings”, which in reality were cheap and unreliable.
A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: “Shortly after the start of the 2013/14 academic year, the University was alerted to issues relating to a lack of internet access and delays in completion of some of the common areas within the development of the St Andrew’s Residence.
“Once notified, staff in the University’s Accommodation Office worked to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. Those affected by these issues were offered compensation following the recommendations of an independent review panel made up of staff and student representatives.”
The University denied any knowledge about problems with security staff, saying: “The University was not made aware of any inappropriate behaviour by security staff towards female students, or any other major security issues at the St Andrew’s Residence.”
In response to problems with room sizes: “The University also refutes allegations of overcrowding in the St Andrew’s Residence. In all cases students were only offered shared rooms that were designed for double or twin occupancy.”
They added: “The University of Glasgow prides itself on our excellent student experience, and the safety and security of our students is always our top priority.”
SRC Student Support Liam King said ‘‘The university’s accommodation arrangements last year were a shambles and now, with the university looking to increase numbers, we must ensure the university doesn’t let this happen again.”