Students lose their seat at Queen’s Halls despite depositing deposit


A student who paid his deposit for his university premises and then had to change accommodation at the last minute has denounced the “frustrating” shortage of student accommodation in Belfast.

Hugh MacDonald (18) from outside Clones is one of the hundreds of students affected by this request. He is a first year physiotherapy student at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

Hugh had secured a seat in the halls of residents of Queen’s University Belfast before learning he was out of room despite having already paid his bail.

Some Jordanstown students occasionally opt to stay in Queen’s University Halls in order to live downtown and embrace all of the city’s student life.

This forced him to hurry to find alternative accommodation just days before he left.

He said: “It’s not unusual for students from Jordanstown to be in the halls of Queen’s, when my sister was in the halls there were three students from Jordanstown in her halls.”

Hugh was one of the many students who Queen’s offered an incentive of £ 1,500 last week to find alternative accommodation.

The offer included £ 1,250 in cash, an after-peak gym membership worth around £ 100 and £ 150 on their student card.

The incentive was launched to reduce the number of students who still need housing and help prioritize those most in need of a room and was offered as an alternative to taking a room in the Queen’s accommodation this new academic year.

The offer was presented to students on Friday September 10 and students had until September 12 to make a decision.

The offer was canceled by Queen’s University and students were asked to find alternative accommodation. Hugh was not able to avail himself of the offer, but still lost his place at Queen’s.

He did, however, access the Jordanstown theaters at the last minute.

“We got an email saying that the accommodation was not available and I went to Jordanstown.

“I had thought of entering a house [private accommodation] but it had been left at the last minute. All of this really turns you off.

Hugh added: “A friend from Armagh was also in the same situation and was told his room was not available and that there are now Queen’s students who are being sent to live in the town halls in Jordanstown. ”

Hugh got his deposit back.

Councilor Chris McCaffrey, Sinn Féin worked with students on this issue and said: Students have difficulty finding suitable accommodation throughout the summer.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly contributed to the increase in demand this year. In addition to a physical return to campus, many students also postponed their place at university last year and are just starting this semester, meaning more students in need of housing.

“In addition to the demand for private housing, university-owned housing, such as halls, was also heavily booked. This led to a shameful episode just a fortnight ago, where Queen’s University informed students that the accommodation they had paid down payments for and needed to move in was no longer available.

“Students are often exploited when it comes to housing and do not have the same rights as other tenants. Unfortunately, this year’s increase has meant that many have had to pay higher rent to find housing and have had to act quickly to get better quality homes.

He concluded: “I hope that with an easing of restrictions and a gradual return to a normal college experience, there will be no recurrence of this problem next year.”

About John McTaggart

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