12/09/2011 07:45 BST | Updated 11/11/2011 05:12 GMT

University Student Accommodation Shortage Prompts Fresh Start Living

Students across the UK are struggling to find accommodation because of severe housing shortages, with many being forced to turn to the private sector to rent.

The accommodation problem for university students was raised last year, when student numbers swelled.

Harry Hunter, a student starting a Masters course at Imperial College in October said his problem is not just a shortage of accommodation, but affordability.

"The university only has enough rooms to provide for first year undergraduates and a limited number of international students leaving the majority to turn to the private sector", he said.

"With the main campus being in South Kensington this means that for those of us without significant financial means it is extremely difficult to find a room on a student’s budget within a reasonable distance of campus. I start my course soon and I still have nowhere to live."

A spokesperson from Imperial College said: “Imperial has a range of accommodation options for postgraduate students, however cannot guarantee them accommodation. To address the general shortage of postgraduate accommodation in London, Imperial has worked with Berkeley Homes to develop Griffin Studios, studio flats in Battersea. Further postgraduate accommodation also features in the College’s plans for its new campus in West London."

Students at Edge Hill University in Lancashire were offered accommodation in holiday camp Pontin's, after the campus halls filled up.

Aberystwyth University has even asked international students to defer a year and officials have been trying to persuade others to live in rooms with bunk beds.

A survey conducted in August revealed a major shortfall in student housing in the capital. The research, undertaken by commercial property consultants Drivers Jonas Deloitte, highlighted Camden and Hammersmith and Fulham as places particularly in need of more housing. Planning director Andrew Gale said more homebuilders needed to focus on forming partnerships with universities., who analysed the statistics by Deloitte, attributed the accommodation shortage to an increase in university applications.

Students who have still not been able to find accommodation are now turning to the private sector to rent.

James Pickles, a student at Manchester Metropolitan University, decided to go private after being disappointed by the standard, size and cost of Manchester accommodation.

"There's definitely a lack of quality student accommodation. I don't expect it to be of a fantastic quality but living somewhere which isn't clean or comfy could have a negative effect on your studies."

James found his accommodation through the student accommodation specialist FreshStart Living. The company claims to provide England's 'most competitively priced student homes', offers housing from £75 per week, which is 25 per cent cheaper than the standard rates.

A spokesperson for FreshStart Living said: "Student budgets are notoriously tight and even more so with the rise in tuition fees to record levels, but that doesn’t mean your university years have to be spent living in squalor. Low rents don’t have to mean low standard accommodation.

The company, who unlike others do not charge student agency fees, has so far refurbished 200 run-down residential properties in North West England which they let out or sell to the private market for students to rent. They currently have properties in Manchester, Liverpool and Salford and plan to expand to Scotland and Yorkshire.