By Kitty Lawton, Third Year English
A recent investigation carried out by Epigram reveals that 89% of Bristol students want the University to take more action when it comes to poor student living conditions. After a long, cold winter, Epigram investigates how, and to what extent, students have suffered inside their own University accommodation.
Bristol is renowned for its big, old houses. Almost every student home in the city comes with high ceilings and large bay windows. Although pretty, this comes at a price; Bristol’s houses are freezing, and, unless your household unanimously agrees to pay large sums of money each month to heat them up, you probably spent your autumn/winter dreaming of warmer days to come.
Students are in a variety of different financial positions. Alarmingly, figures reveal that this winter, 58% of students felt more comfortable putting up with the cold than spending money on heating, meaning that most students resorted to living in uncomfortable environments. This then led to a plethora of issues.
As temperatures dropped, tensions rose. 72% of students said that heating and bills have been a major cause of disagreement in their university household. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, declared that ‘tensions over heating were so high by the end of last year that I didn’t want to leave my room. I felt completely isolated in a freezing cold house.’ Engineering student George, however, said ‘I really can’t afford to fork out £20 a month on heating. People in my house turn it on in secret and they don’t understand that we all have different budgets’.
72% of students said that heating and bills have been a major cause of disagreement in their university household.
Friendships and bank balances haven’t been the only things on the line. Students have also raised concerns about poor living environments having a profuse impact on their ability to study, with 86% finding it difficult to work in cold conditions. But, where the University have encouraged us to work from home whenever possible because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, they have neglected to investigate the extra financial support required for the students unable to heat their homes.
Working through the cold has been a constant battle for some students. One student told Epigram that ‘when my house is too cold, I really struggle with motivation. I don’t want to get out of bed’. Another declared, ‘I write a lot of essays but the house is so cold that sometimes it’s literally hard to type. My hands feel like blocks of ice’.
Libraries and study rooms are available to students at university. However, even since restrictions on the use of these spaces have eased since the coming out of lockdowns, it remains difficult to bag a seat due to the popularity of the areas. If universities will not ensure that all students have the financial means to heat their homes, they should at least provide an adequate amount of heated study space for everyone.
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With the emergence of rising energy bills, universities must do more to support students through the colder months. The UK’s energy price cap has just risen by 54%, meaning a steep increase in household bills from spring. Students already face added financial pressure every time summer closes its doors, a problem which will only worsen considering recent events. With their promise to prioritise the wellbeing of students who enrol, the University must start putting student bills and satisfaction at the forefront of their concerns.
Featured Image: Flossie Palmer / Epigram
Do you think the University should take more responsibility for student living conditions?