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50 per cent of Durham returner university accommodation applications were rejected

Durham-owned accommodation is oversubscribed and chances of success are heavily dependent on your college


Only 50 per cent of returning students that applied for university accommodation for the 2023/2024 academic year in Durham were offered a room, according to a recent FOI.

The Freedom of Information request submitted by Palatinate outlined that a student’s chances of being offered Durham University accommodation were heavily dependent on their college, with further significant differences between self-catered and catered colleges.

The data showed that 75 per cent (of 61 applicants) of Collingwood returners that applied were offered accommodation making them the most successful of applicants, with St Aidans only having a 24 per cent success rate (of 204 applicants) and Josephine Butler having 30 per cent (of 400 applicants).

Self-catered university accommodation, with a shared bathroom, was offered at a rate of £164 per week, whilst students at catered colleges are instead paying at a rate of £234.77 a week. Out of the university’s 17 colleges, only seven of them offer self-catered accommodation options.

In solely catered colleges, 57 per cent of returner accommodation applicants were successful whereas 39 per cent of applicants for self-catered colleges were successful. There were fewer applications made for catered accommodation as opposed to self-catered accommodation.

In response to these figures, a spokesperson for Durham University told Palatinate: “Colleges’ differing make-up of accommodation means they can offer different numbers of returner rooms”.

They added: “There are proportionately more returner rooms available at self-catered colleges than at catered colleges, and this year Josephine Butler offered the highest proportion of returner rooms of any college at 22 per cent (120 rooms in total).

“Demand for returner rooms also differs across colleges, and that was relatively low at Collingwood College this year, for example, meaning they could offer accommodation to 75 per cent of those who expressed an interest.”

Within their 2017 plan, Durham University aimed to house 50 to 55 per cent of students in accommodation, but in the 10 year’s plan refresh this has dropped to 40 to 45 per cent.

Most student accommodation in Durham is released by private letting agents during Autumn, but returners applying for university accommodation were informed whether their application was successful in February 2023.

This year, 970 students were unsuccessful in their application and, according to Sturents, only 75 properties were still available for the 2023/2024 academic year with 97.3 per cent of these properties being on 52 week contracts with rent of £169 per person per week or more.

In response to the Palatinate article, a Durham University spokesperson said: “We know that our students value Durham’s collegiate system. College membership is for the whole duration of students’ time at Durham, and returning livers-in are a valued part of their college communities”.

They added: “This year we have over 1,000 returning students living in colleges, which is more than the past three years. We expect to offer around 1,100 returner rooms for 2024/2025.”

Based on the figures released by Palatinate, 36 of Hatfield’s other applicants weren’t as lucky.

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