13/09/2013 07:56 BST | Updated 13/11/2013 05:12 GMT

'Grab a Vodka to Calm Down', University Staff Tell Freshers

Over 250 students have been forced into off-campus accommodation in a situation described by welfare officer George Offer as 'far from ideal', just weeks before they arrive.

The university had previously stated that a room was guaranteed for undergraduate freshers with firm or insurance offers, who sent in their applications before the 24 August deadline, yet many still do not know where they will be living.

Prospective students have branded staff 'rude' and 'sarcastic' in their approach to dealing with the backlog of applications. "I actually cried on the phone to one of them because I was that stressed about the accommodation," said first year Abi Creak. "She told me to 'get a mug of vodka' - how's a mug of vodka going to help when I have no house?"

Another first-year told student newspaper Nouse: "I've got mild autism and the bounds of campus would be much better for me on working on my social skills. Instead of being somewhat isolated, there'd be more people to work on social interactions."

The delay in his application has meant he cannot live on campus, but nor can he afford to live in The Boulevard.

"They're blaming me for not stating it on my accommodation application but I put it on my UCAS - I didn't ask for it to be private - and I would have thought they'd have put that into consideration. My parents have been trying to get it [his requirements] across to the office for quite some time. They [Accommodation Services] can get quite rude."

It was confirmed to him early this afternoon that the University would be unable to provide him with accommodation on campus.

"The fact that the university has forced him to live off campus is very worrying," responded YUSU's disabilities officer Thomas Ron. "Many students feel that the stigma against disability is so strong that they often fear to put information on a form."

Nowrin Hossain, another prospective student who has organised her own private accommodation said: "The uni didn't help me finding anything at all, I just got a sarcastic woman on the phone.

"I haven't seen my room so I just have to hope it isn't a dump."

Joe Williams has said there appeared to be a "lack of clear communication" in Accommodation Services, and Katie Irwin said their communication is "really vague".

A university spokesperson insisted that staff 'endeavour to be courteous and professional at all times'. "We find it hard to believe that they would make such comments to students. In terms of anyone with additional needs, it is important that they inform Accommodation Services as the information does not automatically feed through from UCAS."

"In terms of anyone with additional needs, it is important that they inform Accommodation Services as the information does not automatically feed through from UCAS unless they have indicated it can be shared."

Union President Kallum Taylor branded the situation "a mess". He met David Duncan, The University Registrar, who confirmed that returning students vacating their rooms to make space for freshers will not have to pay back the £100 they received with their booking.

The University have now provided rooms for all students who have firm or insurance offers and are working to provide housing for Clearing students, beyond what it is bound to by its accommodation guarantee.

This article was first published in University of York student paper, Nouse.