As accommodation rejections, and some acceptances, are sent out, it is clear that the shortage of accommodation that St Andrews is facing is absolutely disgraceful. As an institution that commits itself to supporting its students, they have neglected to support students’ biggest need, shelter.
St Andrews is working on raising £100 million pounds for the 600th Anniversary, but none of the top projects include new residence halls. St Andrews is seeking to raise money for accommodation bursaries, but has not made a commitment to building any new residence halls.
Some of the biggest projects include capital works like a Centre for the Earth, Life, and the Oceans, a Special Collections Library, and a new Sports Centre, all of which are incredibly worthy projects, but they’re of no use if students have nowhere to live.
If the University does not feel that it is necessary to support new accommodation facilities at this time, then it is highly irresponsible on the administration’s part to accept more students than they can provide living space for in halls.
Students make a major decision when choosing where to attend university. Many of my friends that have come to love St Andrews never considered the idea that they’d be frantically looking for accommodation come the spring.
I can’t believe that students, many international who have absolutely no alternatives, are being rejected from accommodation. The scarier issue is that many of my friends did not even apply for private accommodation because they did not foresee this scenario, and why should they have since the University, without adequately weighing the ramifications of its decision, decided to significantly decrease the amount of space allotted to returning students in halls.
Some of my friends are looking in Leuchars, Cupar, and Dundee for places to live since they have exhausted all of their options in St Andrews. Living outside of town is not part of the student experience. A student requiring a car or public transportation to get to town every day is not able to fully take part in all of the social opportunities that someone in town would have when they can easily walk home at two in the morning and not have to plan their whole day around a bus schedule.
The University administration and student leaders must make a commitment to fixing St Andrews accommodation shortage. The development office should make it a priority to open new residence halls within the next few years.
Additionally, I would challenge University officials to work with the Fife Council and seek to overturn their ruling on not allowing for additional HMO licenses in the centre of town.
The town of St Andrews flourishes because of the support it receives from the University. Students fuel the local economy and help St. Andrews to have a strong year-round economy when golfers are not covering the town as they are each summer.
In turn, the University must have the support of the town and HMOs are a major part of the town’s role to support the students of St Andrews.
If St Andrews is to continue prospering as a leading academic institution, it must address its shortage of accommodation. The longer the University puts off confronting this issue the more current prices for accommodation will rise due to excess demand and limited supply.
The University must challenge the town to change its policies on HMOs and the University needs to commit itself to building new residence halls and setting fees at levels that are actually manageable for students to pay. This is not impossible, nor improbable.