It has been announced that the Old Wing of University Hall will be closed for the duration of the 2016/17 academic year.
In a statement at the bottom of the accommodation services website, the University asks people to note that “due to refurbishment,” the old wing will not be available.
A spokesperson for the University said: “We know our residences are at the heart of our community and play a vital part in the unique St Andrews student experience. That’s why the University is engaged in a rolling refurbishment programme, in order to expand our estate and provide students with the best possible living space.
“As part of that effort, and to meet HMO requirements, the University will close the Old Wing of University Hall from September to May to allow essential wiring works to be completed.
“However we’re confident we have the capacity within our estate to manage this without jeopardising our pledge to find a place in halls for any first year student who wants one. “
The closure of the Old Wing of University Hall will affect 91 beds.
However, the University spokesperson also noted that there are currently 155 vacant beds in University accommodation and that they have “factored the closure into our planning for the next academic year.”
According to a statement on the University Hall Facebook page, most of the communal spaces in the Old Wing will be closed, including the West Common Room, Libraries, Senior Study and old wing Dining Room.
Rhys Madden, one of the senior students for University Hall, told The Saint that, “Originally the upgrades were scheduled for a slightly later date, but were moved forward so it doesn’t coincide with the closure of Andrew Melville in an attempt to stagger reductions in spaces, and avoid excess pressure on accommodation – so while it was a bit of a surprise it actually means that returning students will be more likely to gain hall accommodation the next couple of years.”
“Both RBS and accommodation services have been very accommodating, with an awareness of the importance of communal spaces in hall life, so while some communal spaces may be closing they’re expanding hours on bookable spaces to have them open 24/7 and also looking into temporary social spaces similar to the Portakabin currently in place at Albany Park,” he continued.
“Accommodation services are also suggesting that returning student numbers don’t have to decrease proportionally with the total number of spaces, so most returners should manage to move back to University Hall, and if not University Hall then they’re confident they’ll be offered University accommodation elsewhere.
“In essence the improvements are necessary, and I believe the University is doing a good job at managing the impact of Old Wing’s closure on both returning students and new arrivals.”
Speaking to The Saint, the Students’ Association Accommodation Officer, Alexandre Cirric assured that the University was working and in discussions with students throughout the redevelopment process.
“With regards to the University Hall renovations, Ben Stuart [Head of Residential business services] has notified the Senior Students of all the halls, including University Hall, and taken questions from the Senior Students about this issue,” he said.
Going on, Mr Cirric said “He’s been open about the series of HMOs that need to be taken place across the relevant accommodation sites.”
Pat Matthewson, President of the Students’ Association, also expressed his support for the ongoing work of the University.
“Residential business services has worked closely with the student-led Accommodation Team and senior students in order to ensure minimal disruption as the Old Wing is renovated to meet new HMO requirements.
“Together they have found solutions safeguarding access to common rooms and other facilities.”
“This experience underscores the importance of current efforts to expand the University’s accommodation portfolio, ensuring a robust supply to meet any future hurdles that may arise.”
The spokesperson for the University also told The Saint that they are “currently in a tender process for the redevelopment of Albany Park and the extension of University Hall. Once a contractor has been brought on board work will begin to structure a build plan.”
“We are committed to keeping students informed of developments as these projects move forward. The director of residential and business services will be pleased to respond to any queries, though plans are still at an early stage. Any queries from residents can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.”