By Luke Tinsley
This week, Queen’s students on the 9th of September were given an offer by Queen’s university to accept £1500 not to take up space in their exceeded accommodation capacity. In addition, there is an offer for £1250 in cash, £100 in a gym membership, and £150 on your student card. But, unfortunately, what seems initially a good offer if one scrutinises further becomes a rotten deal. Considering that it would cost £124 per week to live in Queen’s accommodation, this would last a student with £1500 around three months in university rent. With the inclusion of free gym membership anyway, the perks become less significant.
Students that accept this deal, searching for opportunities elsewhere to find accommodation, will find great difficulty in finding a new place in time for the academic year. Properties in the Belfast area have long been claimed, a fact any students searching may already have realised. I was talking to my letting agent recently about the Queen’s offer on the news. He believed students would either need to spend an excessive amount on a rental property or look much further afield than the likes of the Stranmillis area. Alternatively, students may have to stay home this year and use this new influx of cash on transport fees as Queens continues not to reveal if classes will be recorded to peruse online or it will be a necessity to be there physically. An issue that Queens has decided not to deal with effectively. Instead, simply in the hope by paying students, they’ll solve their problems. Instead, students are looking for help from each other, using Facebook housing groups to connect with anyone to rent a property together. The feeling of having safety provided in seeking university accommodation is now just more anxiety for an already worried and troubled student base.
Having gone through a year and a half of covid, students have missed out on vital experiences such as meeting their classmates in person, making friends in their accommodation, having access to societies where they can indeed be themselves. It is, therefore, shocking and disturbing the lack of effort from Queens to allay these fears. My heart goes out to my fellow students who are facing this difficult choice that by Sunday 12th, they have to make a decision. One can only speculate what will happen next if not enough students take this deal and Queens has to deny students their rightful space to search elsewhere in September for a new rental lease. I know for me, I would have stayed far away from this deal as possible and clench on to the hope of university accommodation as it is challenging out there right now. I wish you the best of success in finding what suits you.
If you are reading this and have been affected by the Queen’s offer, or perhaps you are one of the many hurriedly searching to find accommodation this September, please email in email@example.com. I would love to share your story right here at the Gown and express your frustration at what has been an issue left too late to solve neatly.