The University of St Andrews has announced that the main building of postgraduate residence, Deans Court will be closed throughout the academic year 2019-2020 as a result of refurbishments taking place.
20 standard single rooms, the common room, and the library are amongst several facilities that will no longer be open to residents.
Renovations will include upgrades to the electrical installation and fire alarm system, and repairs and the redecoration of windows will also occur.
In an official press statement, the University said, “It is an opportunity to replace ageing showers and student kitchens with modern facilities and provide a building with more energy efficient lighting and heating systems.”
The four annexes located nearby on North and South Street will still be available to residents, but catering services will be restricted to a self-catered basis.
However, there will also be essential repairs requiring scaffolding made to the annexes during the first two months of the new academic year.
The university has stated that this will cause “some degree of disruption.” Deans Court and David Russell Apartments are currently the only University accommodation in which postgraduate students are able to access catering options.
An alternative option to purchase a meal package of 19 meals per week at St Salvator’s Hall during the term time has been offered.
Along with the planned disruption as a result of the renovations, residents of Deans Court have expressed their disapproval of the planned changes after the refurbishments are completed. While construction work is going on, the annexes nearby will only be self-catered. However, once Deans Court itself reopens, it will be also be only self-catered.
The Saint received a letter from the secretary to the Deans Court House Committee Elizabeth Marshall. Signed by 49 different residents, it said “We, the present residents, appreciate the frank consultation into which the Residential and Business Services (RBS) has entered, with a view to retaining the present service.
“The unique service at Deans Court, the only exclusively postgraduate hall with catering provision, forms the heart of a community with enormous benefits for student experience, mental health and wellbeing, and that special St Andrews sense of belonging to a long-running, living tradition.
“Deans Court was founded in 1951 by James Colquhoun Irvine, a transformative principal of the University, as a place where “guests would be brought to dine and conversation would flourish, a fertile environment for a cross-disciplinary community of scholars.
“The community flourishes to this day, and Deans Courts is a unique environment in which students of all ages, from under 25 to over 50, drawn from across the University, regularly interact at a common table. Taught postgraduates over many years have rated Deans Court as one of the most important factors in their St Andrews experience. The alumni response to these proposals demonstrates the vital role which catering has played in the life of Deans Court: over one hundred alumni wrote to voice their displeasure within the first 24 hours from the receipt of the proposals.
“These benefits are worth protecting, and an overwhelming majority of current residents have expressed a willingness to pay appropriate fees in order to do so. While we are grateful for ongoing discussions of options for cost-cutting, our position is simple: whatever the results of negotiation on possibilities for cost-saving or revenue-raising, we ask that RBS commit to maintaining Deans Court as a staffed, catered postgraduate residence with an appropriate fee structure to maintain this permanently.”
Negotiations between residents and RBS are still underway.
The official press comment from the University of St Andrews also said, “We are in the process of consulting with the students with regard to the catering service to see if efficiencies can be made to preserve this currently loss-making area of Deans Court.”
After all possible courses of action have been considered between both parties, the University will communicate the agreed outcome to be implemented when Deans Court opens again in September 2020.
This article was amended for clarification on 25/2/19