In a surprising twist of circumstances, more than 120 undergraduates at the esteemed University of Oxford have found themselves residing in high-end hotels, incurring costs ranging from £100 to £150 per night. The unanticipated situation arises from setbacks in the construction of new accommodation, prompting students to seek alternative housing options.
A well-regarded Oxford college, denoted as St Peter’s College, has taken proactive measures to secure temporary residences for the affected students. A group of 20 students from St Peter’s College is currently accommodated in the Voco Oxford Spires, a four-star hotel that boasts amenities such as an indoor pool, spa, and gym. Simultaneously, New College has organized lodging for around 100 third-year students at the Leonardo Royal, another four-star hotel, as construction delays persist.
The delay in completing the new accommodation, particularly in the case of St Peter’s College’s Castle Bailey Quad, is attributed to “unavoidable” delays stemming from supply chain issues. The college intends to facilitate the relocation of its students in January 2024.
A representative for St Peter’s College expressed disappointment over the setback, stating, “The college’s primary focus has been to ensure that all affected students have alternative accommodation and receive compensation throughout the delay period.” In addition to the hotel arrangements, impacted students were provided with assistance in moving, meal credits, and a reduced weekly rent rate as compensation for the inconvenience.
Similarly, the head of New College clarified that the expenses related to students staying at the Leonardo Royal are being covered by the contractors responsible for the delayed accommodation block. The clarification emphasized, “There is no financial burden on the college.”
This unique housing situation has drawn attention to the broader issue of student accommodation in Oxford. Over the years, Oxford City Council has purportedly urged the city’s universities to prioritize designated student lodgings to prevent undergraduates from occupying residences that could otherwise be available for local families.
The recent scenes of Oxford university students camping outside Finders’ Keepers estate agents to secure university accommodation have added to the ongoing discussion. In November, undergraduates from both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes queued for extended periods, with some waiting nearly 24 hours. This has raised concerns about the strain on the local housing market and the imperative for universities to keep pace with the burgeoning student population.
The cabinet member for housing on Oxford City Council, Linda Smith, underscored the importance of universities developing purpose-built student accommodation in suitable locations. Smith commented, “Our goal is to prevent students from taking over more properties, which could otherwise be utilized for local families.”
While the present hotel accommodations offer students a taste of luxury, the underlying housing shortage issue and the resultant pressure on local property markets necessitate sustainable solutions. As the affected students await the completion of their designated residences, questions persist about the overall capacity of universities to meet the housing needs of their expanding student cohorts.