A one-bed flat available for £900 per month in Glasgow had more than 500 applications within hours of going online as desperate university students in the city face being left homeless.
One Glasgow University staff member has branded the housing shortage “a disgrace” and said students are being sent into the “wild wild west” of private lets.
The university has been condemned over its lack of accommodation provision as students were warned not to enrol in courses or travel to the city if they were unable to secure a flat in advance.
Last month, the institution pulled a “guarantee” on offers of flats due to an “unprecedented number of applications” from those arriving on campus.
It has left many frantically applying to letting agents and being forced to “sofa-surf” with friends.
Graduate teaching assistant Rosie Hampton, who is also the postgraduate researcher representative for Glasgow at the University and College Union, said numbers attending the university have “massively increased”, adding that she has around 50% more students than she did last year.
“It feels like you don’t have enough time to give to individual students; subjectively I have less time within an hour and that doesn’t feel fair.
“I’m massively concerned there has been no proper allocation for student accommodation. It’s really unjust.
“So much has been happening over the last couple of years and they need a safe, secure place to sleep without worrying how it will impact their studies.
“Everyone you speak to has a story. There are students out in the sticks not able to get accommodation, probably feeling a bit overwhelmed over freshers’ week and that has made it worse. It’s disheartening.
“There’s a lack of care from the university about student experience. I’m heartbroken for students.”
She pointed to universities in England who have offered to help students with rent costs and are offering free breakfasts as the cost of living crisis deepens.
She added: “Instead, Glasgow University is saying ‘we can’t give you a home’ and sending students into the wild wild west of private lets.
“This has been years in the making. Student numbers have increased year-on-year, fees are up, costs of living are more expensive, staff wages are not up, so they are saving money in that sense.
“This has always been on the horizon. Students have become the casualties of this crisis.”
John O’Malley, CEO of lettings agency Pacitti Jones, said the one-bed city centre flat that is available to rent for £895 per month drew more than 500 applications overnight when it went onto the market on Wednesday.
“It’s very, very dear,” he said. “A one-bed flat isn’t hugely popular with students. It’s utterly unmanageable.
“It’s not going to get any better until as a society we decide how we are going to get more stock.
“The bigger issue is the people who have left the market. We’re seeing our own landlords selling a couple of properties each month and the demand from more and more students, particularly coming into the Glasgow west end area.
“There are market pressures and they’re getting over and away above what they’re asking for, including students and young professionals.”
He said parents of students are offering six months rent up front in advance in a bid to secure a tenancy – but he said it is no longer enough.
“It’s so common now, it doesn’t become a differentiator.
“If you put in to the landlord that you’re willing to pay six months in advance, it’ll get your application in front of them, but it’s not guaranteed it will get accepted because others will be doing the same too.”
Housain has flown over from the Middle East to help his son find a place to live. He’s one of the lucky few who managed to get a viewing at the Glasgow city centre flat.
His son is in his first year at a university in the city. He’s been staying in a hotel since he arrived almost three weeks ago.
“The university my son is going to is a very, very good university. We left other cities because of the reputation of Glasgow,” he said.
“But I don’t know what’s going on here and why the students can’t get somewhere to live, especially the first year students.”
He said the situation for international students is “mission impossible” and that he has called five or six estate agents, who are requesting for guarantors or rent in advance.
“That’s really very difficult for the families who are supporting their children to be sent abroad to study.
“It’s very stressful and very frustrating, frankly speaking. Yesterday I was so frustrated because of some of the terms and conditions.
“My last resort is to buy a property myself and I’d have to spend a fortune here to buy. I’ll get a loan from my country as I can’t leave him on the street. He has to live somewhere.
“I can’t leave him in the hotel. He can’t have a healthy meal in the hotel, it’s all fast food, that will not work for us.”