University studies disrupted amid Cornwall housing crisis

Helston Road, Penryn | Lars Mucklejohn

A number of students at Falmouth University and the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campuses have been unable to find accommodation as the new academic year has begun, causing disruption to their studies.

The Anchor previously reported that hundreds of students had struggled to find private sector accommodation ahead of the new academic year, with some considering living in tents, cars, or caravans to continue their studies.

This situation has largely been driven by landlords in Cornwall converting student rental properties into Airbnbs for tourists amid the UK’s recent holiday boom.

The Anchor spoke to several students whose studies have been affected by the lack of appropriate accommodation.

A first-year Falmouth Games Academy student and her partner still had no full-time accommodation despite having “applied for absolutely everything for months and explored all options”.

Until the end of last week, she was living in a tent and has since moved into a static caravan offered to her for a month. The caravan is in Newquay, and she does not own a car, making commuting to campus difficult. She also has no wifi in the caravan to do coursework.

A second-year Exeter student who had previously considered living in her car to continue her studies has since deferred because she couldn’t find anywhere that was satisfactory.

A first-year masters student at Falmouth said that the Accommodation Office could not offer her anywhere to stay, and when she did visit an available property, “it was a bit of a scam”. After looking as far as Truro for accommodation, she decided to defer.

Quay Hill, Penryn | Lars Mucklejohn

Falmouth and Exeter have introduced measures in response to Cornwall’s student housing crisis.

A spokesperson for the University of Exeter told the Anchor that this “has been a particularly challenging period for private student accommodation availability, and the university’s accommodation team is working tirelessly to assist any student with accommodation needs for this academic year”.

Measures currently being taken by the university include “maximising the number of shared rooms on campus, promoting vacancy sites such as Cornwall Student Pad, and staying in regular contact with students to update them as soon as any new accommodation becomes available”.

They added: “Whilst we have offered our students the option of applying to study remotely temporarily, or to defer or interrupt their studies for a year with guaranteed accommodation next year, we have so far seen little uptake, as the number of students still looking for accommodation is declining.”

Falmouth University said: “The ongoing housing crisis in the private rented sector here in Cornwall and across the wider UK continues to be a challenge, but we’re working hard with our accommodation service to ensure students are not disadvantaged.”

It added: “There are a number of beds becoming available each day and we’re continuing to place students on our list. There are some students in circumstances for which the available accommodation is not suitable, and we’re working with them to find local solutions.”

The university anticipated that the local housing market would “continue to settle as the term goes on”.

Students can book an appointment online with the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union advice team, which offers support and guidance on finance, accommodation, and academic issues.