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Accommodation allocation policy 2021/22

Last updated: April 2021. Next review date: January 2022

1. Introduction and Purpose

1.1.  St Mary’s University (“the University”) recognises the need of many students for residential student accommodation that allows them to study and to participate fully in all aspects of University life. In recognition of this, the University provides eligible students with a guarantee of University accommodation as outlined in this Accommodation Allocation Policy (“the Policy”).

 1.2.  The Accommodation Service aims to meet students’ accommodation requirements through the allocation of University accommodation, by facilitating access to privately rented accommodation and through the provision of advice and support to students regarding residential matters.

 1.3.  The Policy refers to accommodation that is applied for and allocated by the University Accommodation Service and consists of rooms either managed by the University or by a private provider or landlord, hereinafter referred to as University Accommodation. Students should refer to the University website www.stmarys.ac.uk/accommodation for details on University accommodation that may be applied for and allocated by the University. 

 1.4.  This Policy aims to provide transparency to students in the way the University allocates University accommodation and how the demands are prioritised.

 1.5.  This policy is reviewed annually and may be subject to changes, which are communicated through the University website.

2. Making an Application

2.1.  The application and allocation process is managed by the Accommodation Service based on student data received from the Admissions Office, information submitted via an accommodation application, advice from the University’s Wellbeing Service and the St Mary’s International Office.

Application process

2.2.  The online accommodation application process (“the Online Process”) is due to open in spring of each year, the specific date is advertised through the University website. Prospective students who are Eligible to apply are provided with full instructions for the online process prior to its opening via e-mail.

2.3.  Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible, as some room types are more popular and are therefore often over-subscribed.

2.4.  For applications to be considered the full Online Process must be completed and an application submitted. Applicants are provided with applicable Terms and Conditions, including a Privacy Notice, which must be agreed to as part of the application process.

Allocation process

2.5. Pursuant to section 3 below, the allocation process commences during the summer and University accommodation allocations are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, and subject to the availability of room types at the time of allocation. Applicants are contacted by e-mail with the outcome of their accommodation application.

2.6.  Applicants are expected to accept the offer of a room by the deadline stated in their Offer Email. A £200 Deposit is required as part of the acceptance process. If they fail to complete the acceptance process, including payment of the Deposit, their room offer will be rescinded.

2.7.  Applicants whose Deposit Payment is paid on their behalf by another organisation, with the prior agreement of the Accommodation Service (such as a sending institution for international students or a local authority for care leavers), should contact the Accommodation Service by email accommodation@stmarys.ac.uk before their offer expires.

2.8.  If an applicant is guaranteed University Accommodation and they decline a room offer, the guarantee will be deemed as having been met. Where requested, the Accommodation Service will place the application on a Waiting List and endeavour to provide a new room offer, subject to availability and in line with section 4.9 of this policy.

2.9.  University Accommodation consists of rooms managed by either the University or by a private provider. Students who accept University Accommodation managed by a private provider are subject to the terms and conditions of the private provider’s tenancy agreement, which may differ from the terms of the Student Accommodation Licence Agreement for University managed-accommodation.

3. Allocation Priority

3.1.  Places in University accommodation are allocated according to the University Accommodation Guarantee and the priority categories detailed below.

3.2.  University Accommodation Guarantee

3.2.1  The University guarantees to offer a place in University accommodation to applicants who fulfil all of the following eligibility criteria (“Eligible”). These include applicants who:

(i) hold either a conditional or unconditional offer and have made the University their First (Firm) choice University;

(ii) join the University in their first year of an undergraduate or foundation course;

(iii) study full-time for the duration of an accommodation licence period or tenancy contract;

(iv) have not previously studied at the University or lived in University Accommodation;

(v) have submitted an online application for accommodation by the Deadline midday 10th June 2021.

3.2.2 Please note the health, safety and wellbeing of students, colleagues and the wider community is our top priority. Therefore, to comply with the latest measures and guidance issued by the UK Government, Public Health England (PHE) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office relating to Coronavirus, the University may not be able to guarantee you an offer for a place in University Accommodation. In such an event, the Accommodation Service will advise on the options set out in 3.2.3 below.

3.2.3 In the event the number of applicants eligible for the guarantee of University accommodation exceeds the number of available rooms, the Accommodation Service will;

 (a)    seek to secure additional private accommodation that would be suitable for St Mary’s University students;

 (b)    offer temporary ‘twin’ or ‘triple’ rooms in suitably sized accommodation, until an alternative room in University accommodation becomes available; or

 (c)    Arrange temporary external accommodation that will allow students to attend the University.

3.2.3 Applicants and students who will be studying full-time, but do not meet all of the above eligibility criteria, may still apply as per sections (d) (e) (f) (g), however, priority is given to applicants who meet all of the above eligibility criteria. The Accommodation Service endeavours to accommodate all applicants who request it, subject to availability.

Priority Categories

a)      Applicants with Specific Requirements

Applicants with a Disability or Medical Condition

3.3     Applicants who, due to the nature of their disability or medical condition, would not be able to study at the University unless they were offered University accommodation, that is suitable for their requirements, are considered a priority. Where appropriate, University Accommodation will also be available for subsequent years of study.

 3.4     Please see St Mary’s ‘University Accommodation - Disability Provision’ Policy for further information for our eligibility criteria and instruction on how to apply.

 3.5     Any requirement (i.e. room adaptation, location, type, dietary requirement or specialist equipment i.e. a fridge for medication) must be disclosed when completing the online process. If an applicant fails to disclose this information or only does so after they have been allocated accommodation or have been placed on a Waiting List, the Accommodation Service may not be able to make a new offer of accommodation.

Care Leavers/ Vulnerable Young Adults and Estranged students

3.6     Care leavers and vulnerable young adults are required to provide supporting evidence and make the Accommodation Service aware of their requirements by the Deadline for completing the online process. Where appropriate, University Accommodation may be offered for subsequent years of study.

 3.7     Year-round accommodation is made available. Applicants who require accommodation during the Christmas closure period should select 16 Strawberry Hill Road or one of the self-catered University Accommodation options as their preferences. Students requiring University Accommodation during the summer may be required to move rooms.

 

3.8     Students requiring Christmas accommodation, who select accommodation that closes during this period, should notify the Accommodation Service at the earliest opportunity. In which case, every attempt will be made to source suitable accommodation during the Christmas closure period, however, this cannot be guaranteed and where accommodation is provided additional charges will apply in respect of rent for the additional stay.

Applicants Under the age of 18

3.9     Applicants who will be under the age of 18 when their course commences are considered a priority for suitable University accommodation provided they meet the conditions of the University accommodation guarantee, in line with the ‘Admissions Guidelines for Applicants and Students under the age of 18 Years’.

3.10  Registered students under the age of 18 years will not be allocated to share a room. The University will aim to offer students under the age of 18 an en-suite bathroom, but where this is not possible they will have shared bathroom facilities with other residents and their guests/visitors (who may be adults or of the opposite sex).

3.11  St Mary’s University usually enters into contracts with students who are 18 years or over and therefore have the personal legal capacity to do so. Where a student is below that age, the University requires consent to be given from the parent/guardian of the student, in respect of a guarantee agreement.

 b)      International Students (including Study Abroad)

3.12  As per section 3 (a)of this Policy, eligible Undergraduate international students, including SMULIC students, are guaranteed University accommodation if applied for by the Deadline. However eligible international students who apply after this date will be placed on our Waiting List for an offer, pending availability.

3.13  Rooms are reserved for new first-year undergraduate international students where it will be possible for them to move in early, in time for the international orientation programme.

3.14  International undergraduate applicants requesting accommodation during the Christmas closure period are advised to select 16 Strawberry Hill Road or one of the self-catered University Accommodation options as their preference when completing the online process.

3.15  A limited number of International Study Abroad students studying at the university for part of the academic year can apply for certain types of accommodation managed by the University. Homestay accommodation organised by the Accommodation Service is also available.

3.16  Every effort will be made to meet the requests for University accommodation for full-time international students not included in the guarantee (e.g. Continuing, late applicants), where this is not possible advance notice, alternative accommodation advice and assistance will be provided.  

c)      New Undergraduate Students – not included in the University Accommodation Guarantee

3.17  New undergraduate students, who join the University on the 2nd or 3rd year of a programme (level 5 or 6) and are studying a full-time course, or who transfer to level 4 from a St Mary’s Foundation degree may still apply for University accommodation.

3.18  Prospective undergraduate students who are new to the University and are studying in their first year of a fulltime course (level 4), holding a conditional or unconditional offer and have made the University their firm choice, but have missed the Deadline, may still apply for University accommodation.

3.19  The online process remains open throughout the summer and applications are considered, subject to availability, on a first-come first-served basis. Where appropriate consideration may be given to an applicant’s distance from and travel time to the University.

3.20  Where University accommodation is not available, the Accommodation Service informs applicants as soon as possible and will able to assist applicants in looking for long- or short-term Private Sector accommodation.

d)      Continuing Students

3.21  The following categories of students may be considered for University Accommodation in their subsequent years of study, by prior agreement with the Accommodation Service:

 (i)      Students with Specific Requirements as outlined in sections 3.5-3.11.

(ii)     Student Senior Residents (who are appointed by the Accommodation Service).

(iii)    Elite athletes where it is necessary to live on campus due to their training programme (selected by EPC – criteria are included in the EPC Handbook).

(iv)   Any other full-time student who is studying on an Undergraduate course, including students repeating their first year; if University accommodation remains available after offers, have been made to all priority groups named in this policy.

3.22  Please note, students may not be eligible to return to University Accommodation if they have outstanding accommodation fees or it has been found that they have engaged in any serious or persistent misconduct in accordance with the St Mary’s Student Disciplinary Procedure. This is including, but not limited to, breaches of the Accommodation Licence Agreement.

e)      Late Applicants/Insurance Offers/Clearing Students

3.23  Applicants are advised to check the University website and/or contact the Accommodation Service directly to ask for information regarding the availability of University Accommodation before applying. The Accommodation Service endeavours to offer accommodation to all eligible applicants, but those applying after the Deadline should be aware the availability of accommodation varies each year and University Accommodation may not be available. In which case, applicants may apply to be placed on the Waiting List for University Accommodation and will be given advice and support regarding finding private rented accommodation.

General Information

 Additional Details/ Requirements

4.2 All accommodation offers are for single occupancy only. In the case of shared rooms, individual room offers are made to each applicant, who will be of the same gender. Family or couple’s accommodation is not available as part of University accommodation; however, the Accommodation Service provides support and guidance to help find private sector accommodation.

4.3     The Accommodation Service will endeavour, where possible, to group applicants together with consideration to their course requirements, whilst obtaining a balance of genders from a range of courses in accommodation areas. If a request is made for accommodation that offers a single-gender area, these should be mentioned under ‘notes’ when completing the online process.

4.4     Some applicants may have non-standard course lengths, for example, Technical Theatre courses. A range of licence/tenancy lengths are available, applicants should check these carefully to ensure that they suitable for their requirements.

4.5     The type of rooms available for some groups of students to apply for may be restricted.

4.6     With the exception of 16 Strawberry Hill Road, residents living in accommodation managed by the University are required to vacate during the University Christmas closure period. Belongings do not need to be removed at this time and no accommodation fees are charged for days where access is not permitted. Applicants who require University Accommodation over the Christmas period should select their preferences accordingly and specify this requirement during the online process or contact the Accommodation Service before their application is processed.

4.7     Applicants whose course requires them to undertake a placement will not be eligible for a refund for any time spent away from their accommodation or for any meals not taken if in catered accommodation, however, adjustments may be made regarding the times of day that the meal plan is available if requested in advance via the Catering Service.

4.8     When accepting a room offer, applicants and students are entering a legally binding agreement. Where University accommodation is provided by a private provider or landlord, the student will be subject to the terms and conditions of the contract that they enter with the other party.

Waiting List

4.9     If the number of applications received exceeds the number of rooms available, a Waiting List will be operated, for students not covered by the guarantee.  All applicants who have submitted an Online Application and have not been offered a place in University accommodation will automatically be placed on the Waiting List. As rooms become available offers will be sent out to applicants on the Waiting List in chronological order by date applicants were first entered. The University is usually able to offer all students on the Waiting List accommodation, but this cannot be guaranteed. The Accommodation Service will generally not disclose precise positions on the Waiting List, outside of High, Medium or Low.

Accommodation Type Preferences

4.10  Although every effort is made to place applicants according to their preferences, the high demand for certain types of accommodation and/or locations and the limited number of rooms in each type of accommodation may result in applicants not receiving their first or subsequent choices. Allocations are made on a first- come, first- served basis, in line with this Policy and the availability of room types at the time of allocation. Once an offer for a room has been made, students cannot transfer to a different room or residence. An applicant rejecting an offer of a place in University accommodation will be placed on a Waiting List and may only receive another room offer when offers have been made to all other unallocated applicants from the Priority groups outlined above, which might be after A-level results, or after the start of term, and cannot be guaranteed.

Room Transfers

4.11  Applicants will have the opportunity to request a transfer to a different room, starting 4 weeks after they move in, subject to availability and payment of a transfer fee (£50). All room transfers are subject to agreement and in some circumstances, this may also require a replacement to be found for the current room before a room transfer can be granted. Applicants should refer to their licence/ tenancy agreement or contact the Accommodation Service for further details.

Further Information

If further information or clarification on a decision is required then students should in the first instance contact the Accommodation Service: accommodation@stmarys.ac.uk 020 8240 4034.