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Hundreds of outraged students left homeless

Following the increase of undergraduate and postgraduate admissions all around the country the situation for thousands of new students trying to find university-managed accommodation is very uncertain.

The University of Sussex received over 3,000 undergraduates this year compared with numbers from last year’s intake of 2,900. The University only commits to offer university-managed accommodation to students who have put Sussex as their first choice and/or have filled in their housing application on time, excluding those who were accepted through clearing or who have chosen Sussex as their insurance.

“No university can guarantee to house all students who want to take up university accommodation. Around 80 per cent of new students currently seek university-managed accommodation, and our Housing Team works very hard to accommodate all newcomers.”

The university estimates having around 200 students left without accommodation and has set up several measures in order to deal with the problem. A facebook group has been created (“Sussex Housing UG Waiting List”) to enable those who are on the waiting list to find each other and possibly rent accommodation outside of the university.

A host family scheme is also in place. These families live near campus or on main transport routes to facilitate travelling. According to the university, there are many students benefiting from this scheme while waiting for university-managed accommodation or a more permanent situation.

The university’s Housing and Residential Services, together with Welfare Officer, Jo Goodman, have also succeeded in making special arrangements for discounted beds at Brighton’s hostel Journeys until another solution is found.

Jo said “We’ve been working closely with the Housing Office and staff in Residential Services to ensure that there is sufficient support for students who have not been housed. We ran a joint event this evening for students living off campus, which was attended by around 60 students to allow them to meet others in similar situations or staying nearby. It’s really good to see that despite being in what could be a difficult situation, these students are still making the best of their Freshers’ Week and getting involved with what’s going on on campus.”

Looking for a place in Brighton, however, is no easy task at the moment, as hundreds of Brighton University’s new students are facing a similar situation. Ruth Getaneh, fresher at Brighton University says: “it was very difficult looking for accommodation as all the uni halls were full. However, I wasn’t late to apply, it’s because I chose my insurance instead of my firm choice and this lead to a change in accommodation area. I’m not satisfied with the house I found so I’m still searching. Unfortunately my room is only available from the 2nd October so I have to miss my freshers’ week because it’s difficult travelling late at night back to London from Brighton. Missing my freshers’ week also means missing out on making friends.”

The University of Sussex is proud for not having to resort to emergency measures such as forcing students to share rooms or putting in bunk beds, as other universities are doing. Sussex is making sure that all students in the waiting list are housed by January 2011 and that they get the support they need until then.

Despite this crisis on student accommodation throughout the country, the University is hopeful and makes know its plans for the future. Sussex has increased its student housing in the recent years and hopes to provide 777 extra bedrooms from July next year.

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