Incoming freshers at Collingwood College are to be housed at privately-owned self-catered accommodation thirty minutes from the main college as the University attempts to find places just weeks before the start of term.
Palatinate understands that at least two other colleges will be leasing rooms in private student accommodation to house overflow students close to Rushford Court.
In an email seen by Palatinate to an incoming fresher, Collingwood College said: “The numbers coming to Durham this year are extremely high and as such we have been allocated a self-catered annexe to College this year to accommodate those of you who have been confirmed today.
“The annexe, called Rushford Court, is a very recently built facility in the main student residential part of town, approximately 20 mins walk from the main college. We will be treating this facility as just another block of the college so all services, facilities, events, support etc. will be available to you.”
Rushford Court, a Unite Students property leased to the University for a year in 2019/20 to house John Snow College students whilst building the new Mount Oswald site, is at least a 27 minute walk away from the main Collingwood site according to Google Maps. The accommodation does not have its own bar facilities, unlike all Durham college buildings.
The news comes despite attempts by the University to redistribute students across colleges that were previously guaranteed. Freshers have been paid £500 for the move.
Meanwhile, those studying certain subjects have been offered £5,000 to defer a year, and have until 23:59 today to decide. Those on all other subjects had the option to apply for deferral up to midnight yesterday.
In both cases, students are guaranteed their first choice of college for September 2022. Durham Students’ Union called the University’s £5,000 offer “too little too late”.
Other universities have faced similar problems with overcrowding this year. Students at the University of Bristol were told that accommodation is now “fully booked” and it will not be able to offer any more students a place in halls. In Scotland, both St Andrews and Glasgow University have told students they are to be housed miles from campus, in Dundee and Paisley respectively.
In an email to incoming freshers in August, the University said “a small number of students may be offered places in extra accommodation that will become part of the College and supervised by our staff”.
When explaining the decision to offer incoming freshers £5,000, a University spokesperson told Palatinate: “We are offering this scheme because of the unprecedented success of students in this year’s A-levels and other Level 3 qualifications, and to help ensure the best possible academic and wider student experience for all students through targeted action to manage the sizes of some of our new entry cohorts in Departments and in our Colleges.”
The news comes after a year of record A-level achievement, which has meant more prospective students have met their offers than expected. Nationally, 44.8% of students have got A* or A grades, higher than the 38.5% of students in 2019-20.
Both years saw replacement results after exams were cancelled due to Covid-19. UCAS reported that a record 396,000 students have been confirmed in their first choice course. This is an increase of 8% on the previous year.
Image: John Snow JCR