Packed uni forces fuming freshers to live out of town

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MORE than 60 new students are having to be housed outside the city after university bosses admitted they had no space left.

The first-year Edinburgh University students are now staying at the Queen Margaret University (QMU) halls, on the outskirts of Musselburgh, following an “unexpected” number of people accepting course offers.

In an e-mail sent just ten days before the start of Freshers’ week, the 66 affected students were told that the university “had virtually no stock left” and they could only offer them accommodation at QMU.

Students are angry that they will have to travel around 40 minutes just to get into classes in the mornings and have also raised concerns about getting back to the QMU campus after nights out.

English language and linguistics student Katie Walker said: “Not knowing where you are going to be living so close to the start of term is very unsettling and I was shocked when I received this e-mail.

“I think it’s outrageous that a university with Edinburgh’s reputation finds it so difficult to sort out accommodation.

“If I’d known this would be the situation before I applied it would have slightly put me off coming here.

“Moving away from home is hard enough and if we had been given more notice I would have had time to look for private accommodation in the city.

“We will have to get up earlier though and if the weather is bad in the winter the buses might not run so we will not be able to get to class. We will also have to pay more for taxis after a night out.”

Another student, Rebecca Rooney, also raised safety concerns due to the fact that it seems to be mostly girls from Edinburgh staying at QMU.

She said: “Many of us, including our parents, are pretty concerned about the night-time travelling.”

Edinburgh University will provide free bus or rail passes to those affected to compensate for the extra commute.

Nigel Paul, the university’s director of corporate services, said: “Regrettably, we have had no option other than to source other non-university accommodation for some students.

“We are ensuring an appropriate support network is in place on site. We believe this represents the best available option for our students.

“Additionally, the affected students are being provided with a Lothian Buses pass, which will entitle them to free bus transport. The passes will be valid for one month.

“Students can then choose between continuing with a free bus pass or being provided with a pass for the train service between Musselburgh station and Waverley.”

A university spokesman said the situation had arisen because “a larger number of students than expected accepted offers from the university”.

He added: “Senior staff will be working with colleagues across the university to avoid a similar scenario next year.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com

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