Student pods at UWE Bristol 'not fit for humans'

Image caption,
The pods are overlooked by an existing hall of residence

University students housed in "tiny" temporary units have described them as shipping containers "not fit for humans".

The 8x10ft (2.4x3m) "studio pods" were installed in a car park at the University of the West of England's (UWE) Frenchay campus in September.

One student is moving out after complaining that living at the site near Bristol was "not mentally viable".

The university said the pilot scheme was a response to increased demand.

Complaints about the 21 en-suite studio flats, at Purbeck Court, have included there being limited communal space, thin walls and being overlooked by an existing hall of residence.

First year history student, Joe Oakes-Monger, said he had decided to move out because it was "quite isolating" to live in "a very confined space".

Image caption,
Students have been charged £150 per week to live in the pods

"It's a strange place to spend quite a large part of your time in. There's not really anywhere else to go.

"At the time [I moved in] I was desperate for accommodation, but I was pretty appalled.

"I couldn't quite believe the prospect of spending a year there."

He said it was "not an appropriate living standard for a human being".

Another student, Jack Fifield, who writes for the university's student magazine, said he had heard complaints the housing fees were too expensive, and other students living in nearby halls of residence had taunted the occupants for "not living in real accommodation".

Students have been charged £150 per week to live in the pods whereas campus accommodation at the university ranges from £111 to £183 per week.

The university has said it will be evaluating the value for money of the new units.

Image caption,
The university's vice chancellor has offered to meet with students living in the pods

"They [the university] say it's a pilot scheme but they shouldn't be testing it on live students," Mr Fifield said.

"They need to reduce the rent and retroactively refund them."

A university spokesperson said the pods had been "used successfully elsewhere, including student accommodation at other universities" and provided students with the opportunity to live on campus during their first year.

"We are working closely with the students living in this accommodation to respond to their feedback, which will be used to inform our future accommodation plans and to see whether the pilot may be extended beyond this academic year," they added.

The university's vice chancellor, Steve West, offered to meet with students living in the pods.

"We are trying to create communities for the increasing number of students who want to live on campus," he said.

"The pilot picked up on the need for social space: [a new communal area] is being built and will be on site soon."

UWE said it had plans to build a range of 2,000 additional student rooms on the campus, which would be ready by 2022.

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