Meet the Edi students living communally in Pollock’s common rooms

They say the university must do more to help with the housing crisis among its students

There are currently dozens of students living in bunk beds in the common rooms of Pollock Halls – it results from the housing crisis which leaves students through all the years without housing during their studies. Shockingly to myself and many Pollock locals I’ve asked, no one seems to know this is happening.

Up to six people can live in these shared dormitories. Rooms are cramped, lack privacy, and are right next to the main common rooms – which many first-timers (understandably) use to socialize and meet other people, which means people living there face 24-hour noise /24 and 7/7.

These rooms are allocated to students who have contacted the university to report that they do not have accommodation while they continue their studies.

A Pollock resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had no idea that up to 6 people lived in the common room across from their bedroom door. They found it absurd that the university did not alert them that it was happening a few meters from her home.

The people who kindly let us in to show us their rooms also find the situation very difficult. A resident, who also asked to remain anonymous, explained his feelings to us:

“I almost feel lucky – a lot of people who applied to college [for help] got nothing. They even told a friend of mine to postpone. After the stress of trying to find an apartment, this was a bit of a relief.

Interestingly, this sense of relief was shared by others we spoke to. There was definitely a feeling of trying to make the best of a very negative situation.

They told us they had now secured a flat – for £700 a month each. They said they applied for many apartments but lost them because other students outbid them by offering hundreds more rent.

The clash between Pollock residents and emergency accommodation residents was evident – everyone we spoke to expressed that they did not want to take away the experience of newcomers to the common ward, but they also needed to have a quiet environment for working and sleeping. .

The person we spoke to echoed this:

“[My roommate] filed a noise complaint, and they closed the door at [the main] common room for the weekend. But we still had residents coming to our door at night, asking why they couldn’t get it.

We also went to another house and found even more residents living in emergency accommodation. One also echoed everyone’s thoughts and feelings:

“The university gave us twelve hours to sign a lease and pay [this accommodation]. You also can’t undo it, so if you found an apartment, you’re stuck here. So it was £200 which I had to pay immediately. It’s not ideal, but I have a place to live.

They went on to explain that an American had arrived in Edinburgh to complete her year abroad – she had found nowhere to live, so the University gave her a bed in Pollock. She had to leave because she found the experience so stressful and upsetting, moving to an Airbnb instead. They also explained that all people currently living in emergency accommodation in Pollock must move out by September 30, whether they have found a new place to live or not. Some are moved to Shrubhill as a last resort.

Everyone we spoke to agreed that the University needs to do more to help students who are struggling to find accommodation. The student housing crisis is rife in many other cities across the UK – auctions, overpayments and even the simple resort to co-living in student accommodation seem to be the new norm. Coupled with a cost of living crisis, student bills will increase exponentially.

In full, a University of Edinburgh spokesperson told The Edinburgh Tab:

“We are fully aware that some students struggle to find suitable accommodation in Edinburgh. We want to support them throughout this increasingly difficult period and have opened a Housing Information Service in collaboration with our Student Association. The service aims to help all of our students who are having difficulty finding accommodation at the start of the semester, and we do our utmost to support anyone who contacts us for help.

“All students who met the conditions of our housing guarantee were offered a place in a university residence this year. We were also able to provide accommodation offers to over 2,600 students in addition to our guaranteed places.

“We provided temporary accommodation in our residences to some students who did not fall under our accommodation guarantee, after they informed us that they had not found accommodation at the start of the semester. This was a short-term option to support these students while they found more permanent accommodation. The 24 students who have chosen this option are now offered a permanent room at the University.

“We have a small number of students who are not yet arriving in Edinburgh and who have an accommodation contract with us, and we are prioritizing the provision of additional rooms for students who are still urgently looking for accommodation.

“Students looking for private sector accommodation are competing with Edinburgh’s expanding workforce as well as visitors drawn to short-term rentals across the city. Although these factors are largely beyond the control of the University, we understand that we have a role to play in finding solutions to the problem.

“We continue to work with our partner organizations across the city, including Edinburgh City Council and other higher and further education providers, to update our longer-term accommodation strategy. In the short term, we have just opened a new refurbished building in Gilmore Place, central Edinburgh, which can accommodate 230 students.

As a reminder: students who opted for short-term accommodation in our halls of residence were charged £9.60 per night including breakfast and dinner.

More information about our accommodation offer can be found here:

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