Aberystwyth student housing report commended in Parliament

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The campaign won an award at the NUS Wales Awards 2013 for Best Campaign

THE STUDENT housing report recently written by Aberystwyth Students’ Union Student Support Officer Laura Dickens has been commended in an Early Day Motion put forward by local MP Mark Williams, with signatories including Aberystwyth alumni Jonathan Edwards MP (Plaid Cymru, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr), and Dan Rogerson (Liberal Democrat, North Cornwall).

Backed by 12 Members of Parliament, the motion states “That this House commends Aberystwyth University’s Students’ Union (AUSU) on the publication of its recent Student Housing Survey Report 2012”, and praising “AUSU for recognising the positive work of many landlords and the need to encourage good practice through initiatives such as landlord awards”.

It also notes that “more must be done to ensure that both the standard and amount of student housing is satisfactory”.

Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Ceredigion, said that “This is a valuable piece of research, highlighting the needs and challenges facing the student community in Aberystwyth. Basic quality standards are something everyone in our communities are entitled to.”

Dickens commented that she is “really pleased that [the report] reached Parliament. It’s good to see the positive work we’ve been doing on Housing mentioned and the need to work on improving standards is a priority. There’s a lot more work still to come but it’s an exciting step in the right direction!” Aberystwyth University Vice-Chancellor April McMahon said that it was “terrific news”.

The report has also been acknowledged by the Welsh government. Dickens met with Rebecca Evans, Welsh Assembly Member for Mid & West Wales, about housing in Aberystwyth. In January, Evans strongly encouraged Aberystwyth University students to get in touch with her about their housing experiences. Evans also forwarded the report and her concerns to the then Minister for Housing, Huw Lewis AM.

Evans has also written to the new Minister for Housing, Carl Sargeant AM, with a copy of the report. She also identified the serious problems with student housing including unfair administrative fees, poor communication with landlords and the struggles faced by international students, particularly when needing a guarantor.

She has made suggestions as to how improvement can be achieved, such as a student housing guide written by the Welsh Government and ensuring that local authorities have the staffing capacity to deal with Houses in Multiple Occupation.

The housing campaign was also recognised as ‘Campaign of the Year’ at the NUS Wales Awards 2013.