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St Andrews students demand affordable housing to make university more inclusive

St Andrews University's plans for Gap Site 3
St Andrews University's plans for Gap Site 3

Students at St Andrew’s University have launched a petition demanding new accommodation is affordable.

The St Andrews Campaign for Affordable Student Housing Committee (CASH) launched a petition on Wednesday, which calls for proposed new student halls at Gap Site 3, currently under planning stages, to be affordable to all students.

Campaigners say accommodation often costs more than half of the financial support students receive through grants and loans.

Lily Von Geyer, a second-year student who is part of the CASH committee, said that students are fed up and want St Andrews to be accessible to people of all financial backgrounds.

She said: “St Andrews is renowned for being quite exclusive, Prince William came to this university, it’s not like it’s a common place to study and I think the general reaction has been we want St Andrews to be more inclusive.”

Petition demands.

The petition, which already has more than 100 signatures, said the new accommodation Gap Site 3 must contain a minimum of 75% affordable beds and rent should be be no greater than 50% of the maximum student finance and SAAS loans.

Bringing students together

Lily added: “I’m just hoping that it unifies students a bit more because every single person in St Andrews is affected by how expensive halls are.

“It’s really expensive to live here.”

The plans for the new student accommodation, Gap Site 3, were unveiled in November last year and include a budget of around £100 million.

The development is set to deliver almost 150 beds and will be situated between two current halls, Agnes Blackadder and Andrew Melville, offering half catered and half un-catered services.

Petition demands.

Lily added: “If we don’t manage to get our demands met by the petition, we’re just at least bringing students together and unifying them to show that if we all come together, we can make a change.

“If we do manage to achieve our demands then I guess the next step is saying why aren’t all halls following this kind of benchmark?”

The target opening date for the Gap Site 3 student accommodation is 2024.

A spokesman for St Andrews University said: “We have more than trebled the size of our accommodation bursaries at St Andrews in recent years, and we are working hard to raise more funds for this vital area of student support.

“At the request of students themselves, our bursary support now follows the student, enabling access to the full range of accommodation in St Andrews – whether that be university managed accommodation or private flats in town.

“Unlike many other universities, our rents cover energy bills and wifi, and we are committed to provide a varied mix of accommodation types.

“We’ve recently sanctioned investment of over £70 million to provide 900 new places in our halls of residence for students to ease the pressure on the private rental market. We are also developing a 64-bed affordable housing scheme for its early career staff and postgraduate students.

“Across our existing residences, a significant proportion of accommodation already meets the NUS definition of affordability, but we are always committed to listen to student voices, and where possible, explore new ways of expanding support for students concerned about accommodation costs.”

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