University of Reading response to The Observer article on student accommodation
Release Date 14 September 2015
This is a detailed response to The Observer article on 13/09/15 about accommodation for our incoming first years from this weekend.
We are looking forward to welcoming almost 4000 new undergraduate and postgraduates in the next two weeks.
Nearly every single one of our first years will be accommodated in the 5000 rooms available in our high-quality student halls in on campus. That's thanks to the University investing £140m in the last three years to transform the quality of accommodation and add an additional 1500 rooms. We will be announcing new plans shortly to further expand our halls accommodation further to meet rising demand for places – a sign of the University's growing reputation and attractiveness.
For new entrants this year, we have always made clear that we guarantee halls accommodation to undergraduate and postgraduate applicants who made Reading their firm choice, met their grades and applied for rooms by 1 August and satisfies any conditions of their academic offer by 31 August of their year of entry (see our page on accommodation). It is right that we prioritise those who made a firm and early commitment to coming here.
We also reserve halls places for 150 students who apply through Clearing and in addition, we confirmed halls accommodation last month to the vast majority of students who held insurance offers, met their grades and applied to live on campus.
However, there is high demand for accommodation at the start of the academic year. This means we have had to put in place temporary living arrangements for a tiny number of first year students who made us their insurance choice and for whom accommodation cannot be found immediately.
Contrary to the thrust of The Observer article, the University of Reading is no different to any other university. We offer marginally more places than we have capacity for because we know that annually up to five percent of offer-holders drop out before the start of term enrolment and in the first part of term – some for personal reasons, others because a degree might not be for them after all.
Many other universities, however, simply leave it to students themselves to find alternative accommodation if they cannot get a room in halls. We have been proactive in offering insurance offer holders, without guaranteed halls places, plenty of options – including working with Reading University Student Union to find them private accommodation; ensuring that commuting from family or friends is possible; and reserving good quality hotel accommodation. This enables students to start studying at Reading and be part of the community from the Day One.
This has meant that as of today, 70 out of 3884 first years (under 2%) will be temporarily accommodated in rooms in our on-campus hotel Cedars and in a small number of hotels in the town from next weekend, most within five minutes walk from the campus. This figure is reducing day by day, however. Up to 40 of the 70 will be placed in halls this coming week and we are on track for all students who want halls accommodation to be allocated a room within the first fortnight of term at the very latest.
The hotel rooms we have reserved will be charged to students at a discounted rate of £19.50 a night, with the University subsidising the difference. All students in hotel accommodation will have access to in hotel wifi, as well as being able to access library, study, catering and laundry facilities on campus – with those requiring it, getting a free one-month travel card for use on Reading Buses to travel to campus. Each student in a hotel room signs up to clear terms and conditions about the behaviour expected of them. Pastoral support will be provided by Hall warden teams together with RUSU who will be on hand to ensure students are fully involved in Welcome Week and other activities.
The Accommodation Office has been operating a helpdesk since 20 August to advise students and their families on their options are and make the necessary arrangements.