Accommodation update 4 August

Thursday 4 August 2022

The following update was sent on Thursday 4 August to students who we know were unsuccessful in gaining a place in University Halls this year, or who have contacted us recently to express concern about a shortage of private sector accommodation in St Andrews.

Dear Students

As many of you already know, there is an acute shortage of private-sector accommodation in St Andrews just now caused by a range of external factors which are unlikely to ease in the short term.

We know that this is causing concern to some students who have not already secured a place to live for the new academic year. Over the past week, around 130 students have contacted us to say they are having difficulty finding accommodation.

We sympathise greatly with the stress you have reported flat hunting in a housing environment that has this year become more highly pressured than ever. We are listening to you, and working to find solutions.

We have been working since last winter to increase capacity in our own residences, and to secure additional, affordable, University-managed beds in a modern, purpose-built student residence in nearby Dundee, in anticipation of a potential housing squeeze, to ensure that all students have access to housing when term begins.

We are writing to you as someone who has previously applied for a place in University accommodation, or recently expressed concern about accommodation availability, to make you aware of this option, and the additional support measures and subsidies the University has put in place.

Many of you may already be aware of this accommodation option. It has been offered to our students since Spring 2022.

If you have not already done so, we urge you to consider it afresh very carefully, given the demonstrated pressures on existing private accommodation in St Andrews.

Where is the St Andrews Dundee residence?

We have a large number of rooms available at Mears Student Life, The Old Mill, Brown Street. The rooms are located together in flat arrangements in dedicated St Andrews blocks, with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. Options range from one-person to six-person flats. The residence is a short walk from the main bus and rail stations in Dundee, and two minutes from the city centre with shops, restaurants, clubs, the Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) centre and the Dundee Rep Theatre. St Andrews students living in Dundee will have access to Student Unions at the Universities of Dundee and Abertay, as well as access to the libraries of both universities via the SCONUL scheme. Find out more about the City of Dundee.

How much is the rent?

The rent is £118 per person per week, and includes all energy bills. This is highly competitive compared to rents in St Andrews, and elsewhere in Dundee. Lets are available from 37 weeks to 50 weeks to cater for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

What facilities does the residence offer?

There is 24/7 on-call security, secure entry, bike storage, laundry facilities, social and games spaces, and free Wi-Fi.

How will I get to and from lectures and social activities in St Andrews?

St Andrews students living in Dundee will be reimbursed for the cost of a bus pass, if you are not eligible for the Young Scot card (see the Scottish Government website). Dundee is approximately 13 miles from St Andrews. An average bus journey time is 30 minutes. Public bus services run from approximately 6.30am to 11.45pm, and are roughly every ten minutes. The University will run a dedicated night bus from central St Andrews to Dundee, six nights per week, if required.

What specific support will the University provide to students living in Dundee?

The St Andrews Dundee residence will be supported by University staff, including a Residential Services Manager, Porter and House Services Assistant. The Halls Life team will oversee a range of social, community building and wellbeing activities, and the University and Students’ Association will invest in specific events and community initiatives in Dundee. In St Andrews, we provide dedicated spaces for our commuter students, including food preparation spaces and increased locker storage across the campus.

How do I apply for a place at the St Andrews Dundee residence?

Please go to Dundee Student accommodation and complete the application form which you will find on this page. The form includes a questionnaire on the factors that are important to you when choosing accommodation, including affordability, transport links, student support, and social activity.

Why is there such a squeeze on private sector accommodation in St Andrews this year?

A range of external factors beyond the University’s control have impacted the private accommodation sector in St Andrews:

  • A cap on the numbers of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) in St Andrews, imposed by the local authority Fife Council, has led to private landlords shutting off bedrooms in flats and houses for rent in town to avoid coming under HMO licensing arrangements. It is estimated there are over 200 bedrooms currently unoccupied as a result of this regulation. The University strongly opposed the introduction of the cap, and continues to lobby for a review.
  • Changes to the law in Scotland which put more power in the hands of tenants have led to increasing numbers of private landlords choosing to let their properties via the Air BnB market, rather than rent to students.
  • The hosting of The Open Championship in St Andrews this year has led to increased visitor and tourist numbers, which have consequently put more pressure on private lets in North East Fife.
  • Like universities across the UK, St Andrews was affected by the decision of the UK and Scottish Governments in 2020 and 2021 to award A-Level and Higher exam results by teacher-assessed grades. This led to much larger numbers of students than expected meeting their conditional offers, which universities were legally obliged to honour. Universities and students across Scotland and the UK are facing the same accommodation challenges.

What else is the University doing about the shortage of accommodation?

We are actively investigating further options for additional bed spaces in St Andrews and elsewhere, should they be required, working closely with the St Andrews Students’ Association; we are investing in our own developments of new University student accommodation in St Andrews to provide an additional 500 bed spaces; we continue to lobby for a review of the HMO cap; we are offering private landlords a property management service under which the University will let their properties to students and stand as guarantor; we are managing the number of students we admit to keep the St Andrews student population at approximately 10,000, the figure to which we have committed in our current University Strategy.

Where can I go for further help and advice about accommodation in St Andrews and Dundee?

Email to students at the University of St Andrews who were looking for accommodation at the start of Semester 1, 2022-2023 academic year.

Category Student experience

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