An incoming student has spoken of her anger after the University told her she would have to pay £1,000 more than her peers for accommodation in Andrew Melville Hall because she had been placed in an en-suite room – a possibility she did not even know existed.
Hannah Klimas, from Wokingham, said she was treated “very unfairly” after her offer stated a cost of £5,751 for a year’s single catered accommodation in the hall. The price quoted by the University’s website for a single room in Andrew Melville is £4,723, but no en-suite options are listed.
A University spokesperson failed to explain why the en-suite option had not been advertised or why Ms Klimas was forced to pay more than other Andrew Melville residents. He instead told The Saint that her allocation technically fell within her stated preferences.
“The University guarantees accommodation to all entrant students who apply prior to the end of June deadline. This year, we are pleased to have been able to honour all requests.
“Incoming students are asked to identify 4 choices in order of preference – all choices are detailed with rental costs on the website. This year, there has been exceptional demand for standard catered accommodation, with this category representing just 42% of our available stock. Remaining students therefore have been offered alternative accommodation, normally according to one of the 4 preferences on their application.
“In this particular instance, the student was offered accommodation; not their first choice, but within their four preferences. Any student can request alternative accommodation upon arrival, but obviously this is subject to vacancies arising. However, if the student has pressing financial circumstances, we can prioritise the transfer request and help them apply for a student bursary – we have a fund of £163,000 for supporting students with financial issues in University accommodation.
“We would be happy to talk to the student concerned if they would like to get in touch with Wendy Newton or Roger Smith in SAS.”
If Ms Klimas had hoped St Andrews would deal with her case sensitively she was to be sorely mistaken. When she wrote to ask whether there had been a mistake, the University accommodation office’s terse response did little to allay her concerns. “We have 1 en-suite in Andrew Melville Hall which is what we have allocated you,” they said.
They later added: “We have no other catered standard rooms available for female students. … The only other option would be self-catered en-suite which would be more expensive.”
Ms Klimas told The Saint: “I feel I have been messed around ever since I got my accommodation offer and that I have been treated very unfairly. I understand they had to offer the room to someone, however it should have been advertised on the website that there was a possibility of being allocated an en-suite in AMH and the extra cost of it, as my loan nowhere near covers this amount.”
She now worries that she has no choice but to accept the place. “If I refuse the allocation they have made, I am worried that I would be put in ABH [Agnes Blackadder Hall] or even DRA, which I certainly would not be able to afford.”