University charges fresher £1,000 for toilet

6

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.”

“Messed around”

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.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. To be fair we all get thrown in to rooms that can differ wildly in price (I got put in sallies even though I couldn’t afford it in 1st year). It’s standard uni policy. I had to use the discretionary fund to make up the difference as well. I don’t know why giving people choices by price bracket wouldn’t be fairer and it’s unnecessary stress on the student even if you get monetary aid in the end.

    • While I don’t know the specifics of the application form this year, I believe that Andrew Melville is listed as a separate preference to all the other standard catered halls. Additionally, if I remember correctly, the price of all the other standard halls went up significantly last year, while Melville stayed the same or even went down.

      As well as being further from town and generally having smaller rooms compared to the other halls (as well as being somewhat different architecturally, for those who care), surely the whole purpose of a separate option is for those who would like standard catered, but cannot afford the other options (which as is pointed out, are going to need help from parents/someone in addition to a student loan, though this is unfortunately true of the majority of accommodation in St Andrews).

      This is obviously an individual case, and it is unlucky to get given the only en-suite in a building. It is worth mentioning that other catered halls do have the odd en-suite room as well. It is a difficult situation, because if you turn down the offer, you are only going to be in a worse position.

  2. The same thing happened to me in McIntosh last year. When I queried why I was being charged for something that I did not know existed and had not asked for when applying, the only response that I got was that had already been done. I agree that this is completely unfair- being charged over £1000 for something that we neither requested, needed or even knew existed (and in particular, weren’t given the option to reject) is unfair and very disappointing. This is fair enough where ensuite rooms are offered, but where they aren’t the forced extra payment is absolutely disgraceful.

  3. This is not listed as an option on the University Website. If it was, fair enough, but it isn’t an the university is aware of this so they are deliberately misleading their customers.

  4. There were four guest rooms at Andrew Melville Hall all with en suite bathrooms. I was placed in one as a temporary measure in the 80s before being moved out to a “normal” room with the others with an excellent view of earthworms . I suppose they were originally used for visitors rather than students. I suppose with a rising student population they are now trying to utilise all of the rooms.

    • Seriously, I did not enjoy the experience- during the Hall Ball , drunken students were queuing up to use the ensuite bathroom and loo for sex as it was accessible from the corridor as well as my room and they were banging on my door accusing me of being a boring scientist for sleeping, (actually I was quite ill )! – the first thing I had to do in the morning , apart from stepping over a comatose student , was to remove a cigarette butt and a condom, so I would definitely ask for my money back if students are the same these days but I very much hope that they are more mature …

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