An accommodation shortage has left Bristol University students being offered rooms in Newport – more than 30 miles away and in a different country altogether.
With a huge student population, a great range of independent shops, bars and restaurants, and some of the UK’s best nightlife, Bristol is a popular choice for many leaving home for the first time.
However, thanks to an oversubscription in the university’s residences in the city centre, some students are being forced to stay in Newport, at least in the short term – leaving them with an experience that couldn’t be further from what they had hoped for.
A small number of students have also been offered accommodation more than 12 miles away at the university’s Langford Campus, which houses the veterinary school.
A spokesperson for the university explained that all new undergraduates who chose Bristol as their first choice and applied before June 30, 2019, had been offered a room within university residences in the city.
In total, more than 6,000 students will be living in buildings either owned or managed by the university. But additional students are being forced to move into accommodation elsewhere.
“We are individually supporting students who were not guaranteed accommodation in various ways, including a residential house search event and advice and assistance from both the University accommodation office and colleagues in the Students’ Union.
“One short-term option offered is staying on a temporary basis in University accommodation outside of Bristol, including at the Vet School in Langford. We have also made arrangements with a third-party provider at Newport and provided this as an alternative option.
“The small number of students choosing this option will receive support from members of our Residential Life team to help ensure they feel part of the wider University community in those first important weeks.
“We are working very hard to find long-term solutions. The aim is to move those affected into University-allocated accommodation in Bristol as soon as suitable spaces become available.”
The spokesperson also stressed that staff were working “very hard to find long-term solutions, and were aiming to move students into city accommodation as soon as possible”.
Even without factoring in the walk to and from the station, the journey from Newport to Bristol takes a minimum of 30 minutes by train, with the trip taking almost an hour (in good traffic) by car.
George Bemrose, student living officer at the university’s student union, said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see that a number of students are unable to be housed by the university and are facing having to find accommodation so close to the start of term.
“Each year there are a few students who do not get into university halls, but this year the number is much larger.
“Throughout the last few weeks I have been chatting with a number of the students in this situation and assisting where I can. From now onwards, I will be working closely with the university to make sure these students receive support finding alternative accommodation.”