One in six Edinburgh University students unable to rent housing as planned, study suggests

14 November 2023, 08:51

Edinburgh University students are struggling to find accommodation
Edinburgh University students are struggling to find accommodation. Picture: Alamy
Alan Zycinski

By Alan Zycinski

One in six Edinburgh University students who tried to rent housing before term began weren't able to, a study has suggested.

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The survey, conducted by student-led organisation Slurp and exclusively shared with LBC, showed students who couldn't find private accommodation by the start of Semester One this year.

The demographically weighted stats took in responses from around 1,300 students who were asked about their experiences in finding housing.

Excluding first years who are covered by the university's housing guarantee, a sixth of all students (16%) who needed private rented accommodation did not have their name on a tenancy agreement by September 18.

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

Slurp also found transgender, non-binary and widening participation students were more likely than other demographics to have experienced homelessness.

And that 96.9% of all respondents agreed that any student who tells their university they are homeless should be offered emergency accommodation.

Co-president of SLURP Lawrence Williams told LBC these were "really shocking results".

He said: "The student housing crisis is just one part of the wider housing crisis - a lack of housing, a lack of accessible housing and how expensive housing is.

"Student numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade too and universities don't match that intake to how much housing is available because they don't have to take responsibility after the first year.

"We think universities need to offer an emergency housing guarantee where if any student tells them they are homeless that student will be guaranteed some form of emergency accommodation.

"Currently neither the councils nor the universities want to provide that guarantee and it means students are falling through the gaps".

Lawrence also claimed emergency accommodation options offered by Edinburgh University were under-advertised.

He said: "As a result that emergency accommodation didn't fill up but we were still seeing students day to day sofa surfing, commuting long distances and living in hotels."

Edinburgh University did run a communications campaign this year signposting students to accommodation support and has launched an accommodation advice service.

A 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.”