Credit: The Herald

“No” – University will not apologise for accommodation crisis

By Luke Chafer and Kimberley Mannion

University refuses to take responsibility for the accommodation crisis, while politicians and students condemn its handling. 

The accommodation crisis at the University has continued this year with students being housed in hotels, halls in Stirling, and on sofas. Some have been unable to enter the country due to a lack of accommodation. The Glasgow Guardian asked the University whether they accept that the accommodation situation has been mismanaged.

A University spokesperson said: “No. Like most urban universities, we cannot guarantee accommodation for returning students, but aware of our duty of care to students have worked to find solutions caused by the citywide shortage of accommodation. The University is working with the SRC to provide advice and support to students who are struggling to find accommodation.” 

The statement is based on the current accommodation guarantee for students – they have to be first-year undergraduate students who do not live within a “commutable distance” to the University. Throughout the last year during the application period this guarantee has changed repeatedly; in February the caveat was added onto the website that students within a commutable distance would not receive an accommodation offer, with the policy only being announced in August, the guarantee for students in the first year of postgraduate taught programs which was held in previous years was removed. 

Whilst official student numbers have not been published for this academic year, there was a significant increase during the previous, and The Glasgow Guardian has been made aware that student numbers have risen again. The unofficial University line is that student numbers have not increased significantly, as they increased by less than they did last year. However, they increased nonetheless. 

International student Abheer Kukreja travelled to Glasgow to start his post-graduate degree in International Relations and Public Policy, only to face homelessness. He said: “I’m running homeless and taking my luggage back to new AirBnBs and hotels. It feels like paying thousands of bucks (the figure when converted in Indian Rupee is crazy) for nothing. I have been rejected from hundreds of flat viewings. The worst thing is that I still can’t open my bank account because they ask for proof of address.”

Abheer continued: “I really believe that the University has no competency in dealing with its administration. My lectures are also literally held in a church where we don’t even have a laptop-placing space, or good enough seats and easy accessibility for the lectures in terms of listening and watching slides and professors. Every now and then time i scream to myself, ‘Should’ve gone to Edinburgh or York'”. 

Speaking to The Glasgow Guardian, Paul Sweeney MSP said: “The situation facing students in Glasgow is shambolic and could have been avoided if previous warnings had been heeded. It is intolerable that students are being forced to withdraw from their courses due to a lack of planning on the part of the University and accommodation providers. It should signal the end of the profiteering racket that sees millions ripped out of the city’s economy while students pay the price.”

The concern regarding the University’s profiteering was echoed by former rector Aamer Anwar who told The Glasgow Guardian that he is “sickened by the treatment of not just the staff but also the students – who are being treated as cash cows, I can only imagine the heartbreak of students earning a university place only to find it’s not possible – we were told when I was Rector they would always put students first instead it’s the University’s cash surplus that is the priority – a total utter disgrace and shocking way to treat students who like the staff make this university a world changer – sadly at the moment it really is scraping the barrel and needs to support every student that needs a roof over their heads rather than washing their hands off them.”

Former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard also commented that “students are not a commodity and universities are not businesses. They are a public service with a duty of care to treat students with humanity, dignity and respect. Glasgow University is currently failing to uphold those basic principles.”


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Abheer Kukreja

Hello, i am Abheer Kukreja. A slight correction: I am actually a first year Undergrad student. 🙂
Thanks for listening to me, the newspaper has been a gem.