Accommodation

Finding suitable accommodation during university is a struggle that is understood by all students. However, estranged students face a significantly greater disadvantage while searching for a home.

The most common way of renting accommodation during term time is to live in halls. University halls provide a secure living environment for students to live and study in alongside other students. However, halls agreements often require large deposits, and are typically only available for lease during the academic year. This can provide barriers for estranged students, as many do not have the money for a halls deposit before they start university, and even when they do live in halls, worry about their summer accommodation.

An alternative to halls is private renting. Private renting has its perks – the leases tend to be for 12 months at a time – which allows estranged students to have a home for the summer, provided they can afford it.

However, renting in the private sector comes with many barriers and drawbacks for estranged students. Most private landlords and estate agencies insist on the confirmation of a guarantor – usually a family member or a homeowner - before you can legally let a property.  Although this is a good standard practice, it can provide a huge barrier for estranged students, who don't have a supportive family member to fulfil this role.

When discussing the difficulty of finding and securing accommodation, one male student said, "Every single summer, I find myself homeless. It's a weird space to be in – one minute you have a home, and the next you don't. After struggling all summer, I find it hard to get back in the swing of things at uni. The stress and pressure of finding a place to live and scrambling over summer stays with me."

To look at the impact of Manchester Metropolitan University's summer bursary click here.

As mentioned above, many estranged students are faced with the possibility of temporary homelessness in the summer months as finances don't cater for breaks. This leaves estranged students in a vulnerable position in which they either have to take out loans or use credit cards to pay for summer accommodation, or many must sofa surf between friends' homes until term begins again. This a very precarious situation to be in, and can often impact a student's mental health.

The Pledge recognises that accessing accommodation can be a barrier to success for estranged students, and that's why we have made accessing accommodation one of our priorities within this HE project.

We are encouraging our committed institutions to consider a range of options around accommodation, including offering 365 day options to estranged students, or perhaps developing a summer accommodation bursary to act as a buffer for estranged students during the tough summer months.

One of our champion institutions, Liverpool John Moores University, has recognised finding appropriate student accommodation can be a significant barrier to access and success for estranged students. As a result, LJMU ensures that all of its accommodation partners will accept students without the need for a guarantor in certain circumstances. Philip Bakstad, LJMU's dedicated adviser for estranged students said, "LJMU recognises the importance of secure, stable accommodation in ensuring a smooth transition to student life. Working in partnership with our accommodation providers, the University is able to assess and respond to the needs of individual students to enable them to secure appropriate accommodation in an LJMU partner hall. This practical support may include requesting that an accommodation provider remove the requirement for students to pay a deposit or provide a guarantor to be able to move into LJMU student accommodation."

 

 

 

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