Freshers fined over £10,000 for damages in halls

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By Ed Southgate, co-Editor in Chief

Students living in university-owned residences paid in excess of £10,000 in damages last academic year.

Rooms are inspected at least once a term, with the possibility of follow-up checks if there is concern about its state. Fines are dished out to students who damage their accommodation, or leave it in a condition worse than would be expected from general wear and tear.

Across 11 halls, the University generated £10,722.06 in the 2017/18 academic year from students wrecking rooms and social spaces. Just two halls - Churchill and Colston Street - together contributed to almost half the total of all the fines.

Students in Churchill, a Stoke Bishop hall with 355 places, inflicted the most damage with fines amounting to £2938.25 - over a quarter of the total sum of fines.

The University fined students at Colston Street £2,292.97. There are just 110 places in the residence, one of the fewest of all the university-owned reesidences.

Across 11 halls, the University generated £10,722.06 in the 2017/18 academic year from students wrecking rooms and social spaces

Goldney Hall, Clifton, was fined just £34.50 while students in Clifton Hill House were made to pay a total of £189.30. They have 264 and 226 places respectively. Manor Hall, which has the least number of students of the three main Clifton halls at 190, had to cough up £899.30.

Other halls that were fined include Student Houses (£175.38), 115 Queen's Road (£185.78), Winkworth House (£572.70), Badock Hall (£707.93) and Durdham Hall (£1,454.74).

The University said the money generated is used to cover the replacement of damaged or removed items, and for repairs and cleaning or redecoration costs.

Students are required to pay the fine within 30 days. The University said students who miss the deadline would be chased up, but did not say whether there are any disciplinary measures for students who refuse.

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SU Living Officer, Vanessa Wilson, slammed the fines as unfair on students who may already be living in low-quality accommodation. 'I think it's unacceptable for the University to be charging hall fines when the quality of accommodation is already substandard', she said.

'Adding extra costs to poor quality accommodation is unjustifiable in my opinion, particularly as only 1 per cent of beds are a half of the maximum maintenance loan and high rent has already been linked to extreme stress and mental health'.

Vanessa Wilson has been working with campaign group Bristol, Cut The Rent in lobbying the University to reduce the rent prices for halls of residence. Last Wednesday the group handed the University a petition demanding that 50 per cent of all bedrooms must cost 50 per cent of the maximum maintenance loan.

Related article: Bristol study links private-rented accommodation with increased stress

A University spokesperson said: 'Students living in University of Bristol accommodation can be charged an additional cost if their accommodation is damaged or left in a condition worse than would be expected by general wear and tear.

'The amount is used to cover replacement of damaged or removed items and fixtures, and for repairs and cleaning or redecoration costs.

'Invoices are due within 30 days of being issues, and if not made in time the student would be chased up for the debt to be paid'.

The University declined to comment on the issue of rent.

Featured image: Epigram / Imogen Horton


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AUTHOR

Ed Southgate

former co-Editor in Chief 2018-2019 | former Editor of Epigram Comment 2017-2018 | UoB English student 2016-19 | Twitter: @ed_southgate