The cost of living crisis is impacting students in many ways, but the rising rent costs and lack of student housing available compared to the demand has caused a new form of crisis that’s made thousands of students across the country face the possibility of homelessness.
In recent years there’s been a huge shift in the rental market, with the cost of renting across the country soaring due to inflation and the cost of living crisis. As landlords are getting away with charging ridiculous amounts of rent, this only causes the rent of affordable housing to also rise, pushing out those who can’t afford it.
For students who are going into their second or third year of uni, the assumption is that they will move out of halls and into student housing. Student housing is normally purposely marketed for students and will have cheaper rent than private accommodation and traditionally is easier to secure as it is advertised as just for students and not for young professionals looking to rent in uni cities.
What’s happening with student housing?
In Durham, students have had to queue for hours in a bid to try and secure accommodation for the next academic year, due to landlords and letting agents releasing all of their properties onto the market in one go, a move that’s forced students to compete with one another for housing.
First-year students who have only just started university a month ago have been dragged into the housing crisis and instead of enjoying their first months of uni, they’ve been forced to scramble for accommodation and sign a contract to live with people that they’ve only just met.
This huge demand comes from universities not placing restrictions on how many students they admit per year, and in turn is not only leaving students stressed and worried about being homeless, but raising the cost of rent due to the demand and forcing local residents out of their hometowns due to not being able to afford to live there anymore.
Meanwhile, in Scotland students studying at Stirling and Glasgow universities are competing with one another to find accommodation, with many students having to commute from Stirling to Glasgow or visa versa to attend lectures daily.
Other students have had to resort to staying in hostels while attempting to find somewhere to live in order to be able to view and apply for local flats as quickly as possible, as available accommodation gets taken within hours of going onto the market.
Landlords are also taking advantage of stressed and vulnerable students by asking them to bid for accommodation or offer over the asking price, as they know that if people are desperate they will offer more money than what’s being advertised.
Those who were unable to find accommodation for the current academic year have been sofa surfing, staying in hotels and hostels or commuting hours a day just to attend university.
Where can you get help?
If you’re struggling with the student housing crisis here is a list of charities or shelters that you can turn to for help.
Unipol — student housing charity helping students to find accommodation.
AA4S London (Affordable Accommodation 4 Students) — a not-for-profit charity helping to provide and find accommodation for students in London.
Emmanuel House Support Centre — The University of Nottingham have teamed up with this homeless charity in order to offer a homeless shelter for short-term accommodation for up to 27 people per night. The shelter will be open until April 2023 to help Nottingham residents who need a place to stay.
UCL emergency accommodation guide — help for students studying at UCL who urgently need somewhere to live.
University of London housing service — a service helping students studying at London universities to find private accommodation.
Shelter — a hub of information and advice for those who are homeless or facing homelessness in England.
Shelter emergency housing from the council — advice on guidance on how to find emergency housing from the council if you’re eligible.
Centrepoint — advice and help for under 25s who are at risk of being homeless.
The Mix — emotional support and advice for under 25s during the cost of living crisis.
Mind — guidance on housing issues and mental health.
Citizens advice — guidance and advice for students on housing and homelessness issues.
How can I raise awareness of the student housing crisis?
When it comes to raising awareness of the student housing crisis, don’t forget the power of social media and share what you can to draw attention to the issue.
Protests have been happening across the country in solidarity with the students who are struggling to find housing and students in Glasgow have plastered bus stops and windows around campus with “University of Glasgow does not welcome you” to put pressure on the university to speak up and take action against the crisis. The university has previously warned students not to enrol if they could not secure accommodation first, and has dropped its “guarantee” that all students will be given accommodation.
Protests have also been taking place at various uni campuses across the UK to raise awareness and put pressure on unis to take action and accountability for the housing crisis.
Keep an eye out for possible protests happening at your uni and petitions that are circulating on social media to show solidarity with other students who are facing housing issues and help to fight change in the ever changing current climate.
The 93% club has Instagram pages for various unis across the UK which also keep students up to date on talks, protests and petitions regarding the housing crisis and the cost of living crisis.
Don’t forget to check out everything you need to know about the cost of living crisis and the impact on students.