One in six students 'unable to find housing before semester starts'

Student organisation Slurp is calling for the introduction of an 'emergency housing guarantee' following a survey among 1,300 students.

One in six Edinburgh University students unable to rent housing, student organisation Slurp finds Edwin Remsberg via Getty Images

A group is calling for the introduction of an “emergency housing guarantee” after a study found that one in six Edinburgh University students were unable to rent housing before the semester began.

Student organisation Slurp led a survey among 1,300 University of Edinburgh students in an effort to see how they have been affected by the city’s alleged “student housing crisis”.

The study found that a sixth of all students interviewed (16%) could not find accommodation by the term start date of September 18.

This could be broken down into 10.4% of students on undergraduate courses and 24.4% of those on postgraduate courses.

The data also found that of 19 surveyed students with specific accessibility needs, 57.9% were without housing at the start of the semester.

According to the data, 96.9% of students agreed that “any student who tells their university that they are homeless should be offered emergency accommodation”.

Slurp have said that this data supports the need for an “emergency housing guarantee”, which would ensure any student who tells their university that they are homeless would be offered temporary accommodation.

Lawrence Williams, co-president of Slurp, said: “These figures are appalling and demonstrate the unacceptable housing challenges that students in Edinburgh have faced for a long time.

“Students reported the physical and emotional toll of sofa surfing, commuting long distances, and living in unaffordable, low-quality and, in some cases, unsafe accommodation.

“The University of Edinburgh was in a position to offer emergency accommodation this year, but this accommodation did not get filled because many students were unaware that the emergency accommodation existed.

“Emergency accommodation was under-advertised to the extent that some homeless students only became aware of it when we informed them via our survey.

“One student had to check with us that we were sure the provision existed since they could find no mention of it on University websites.”

A student who took part in the survey and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The university is no help at all.

“There is no information or even acknowledgment of the state of the student housing situation in the city and are leaving students unprepared and uninformed.”

The data comes after Edinburgh officially declared a housing emergency in November amid a record high of homeless families.

It came after figures showed approximately 5,000 households in the capital are in temporary accommodation – the highest number in Scotland.

An Edinburgh University spokesperson said: “Ensuring our students have a safe and stable place to live is one of our top priorities.

“Every year we provide a guarantee of accommodation for groups of students, including all new undergraduates from outside Edinburgh who are studying for the full academic year and who apply by the deadline.

“This year, as last year, we met this guarantee and provided housing to more than 2,000 additional students over and above that.

“We have rooms still available for emergency situations where students find themselves without a place to stay, as well as longer term rental options.

“The causes of homelessness are varied and we have many services available to support those who find themselves at risk of becoming homeless, for whatever reason, including hardship funding for those most in need.”

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