THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER has expanded accommodation to facilitate for an extra 600 places this academic year, after housing approximately 92 per cent of year one undergraduate students.
Following a 34 per cent rise in applications for 2013-14, the University expanded its undergraduate intake this year by an extra 600 places. A significant change from recent years is the implementation of the external Printworks and UNITE accommodation services by the University accommodation team.
In December 2012 the University announced the closure and conversion of Hope Hall and Lazenby to office space, following the temporary closure of James Owen Court and Moberly. At the time the University confirmed to Exeposé: “The closure of Hope Hall and Lazenby as residences will not result in a shortage of accommodation places on campus”.
The University have stated that “The accommodation available is made up of residences which are owned, managed or approved by the University. For approved residences, which equates to just over 200 rooms, the University nominates a student to a private accommodation provider based on their application.” The total number of bedrooms the University offers, including residences the University nominates to, currently equates to 5,476, with 1,273 off campus residences.
The University experienced a boom in applications for the academic year 2013-14, up 33 per cent to 34,077, having been awarded the Sunday Times University of the Year award and having become part of the Russell Group.
Over the past few years £170 million has been invested in new student accommodation at the University of Exeter to ensure that high quality accommodation was available for students. In September 2012, a three year building programme was completed in partnership with UPP which increased the number of rooms available to over 5,000. The University also announced in January 2013 it would be freezing and decreasing the room rents for over 80 per cent of the bedrooms available for 2013/14.
The annual turnover for the residential accounts is approximately £28 million, of which around £15 million is passed on to 3rd part partners such as UPP. This figure is made up of student rents and vacation business (such as residential conferences), which helps to support the running cost of University residences.
Between 11 August and 22 September, 5,062 inbound calls were taken by the accommodation team, of which 70 per cent were answered within 20 seconds. The accommodation blog was also utilised for the first time as a communication tool, receiving approximately 24,000 views since mid-June.
Catered accommodation at Exeter ranges from £119.98 weekly rent (a twin budget in Moberly) to £212.03 (single ensuite with a view in Holland), whilst the undergraduate self-catered options on campus range from £97.86 to £249.48.
To compare with other Russell Group universities, the average cost per room for a standard catered room at the University of Liverpool currently stands at £114.10 whilst the average cost of a room of the halls at the University of Leeds is £104.62. At Queen Mary University London, the average cost of a room is comparatively cheap, standing at £84.86, whereas a catered room at the University of Nottingham costs, on average, £170.70.
Jak Curtis-Rendall, VP Participation and Campuses, stated: “I am pleased to see that efforts are being made to expand the available accommodation in line with growing student numbers. It is vital that the Students’ Guild continues to push to see the University provide a flexible range of accommodation to meet the range of student needs and budgets across our campuses.”
A third year Geography student commented: “It’s pretty ridiculous that the University converted some halls into office space a matter of months ago and are now scrabbling around to find bed spaces for freshers. I think a bit of foresight was required before either closing halls or making offers.”