University set to provide more rooms for students

Halls of residence'Ayton House'St Andrews'Abbey Walk
Halls of residence'Ayton House'St Andrews'Abbey Walk

St Andrews University is to spend £70 million in providing 900 new beds for students by autumn 2018.

A combination of new builds and refurbishment will see the amount of student accommodation provided by the university rise to 4900 beds. The new accommodation will be funded by equity-release schemes with private sector partners.

In a programme that will run until September 2018, 196 new rooms will be built at Fife Park in phase two of the development there.

Early next year work will start on University Hall Annex, providing 220 bedrooms, and Agnes Blackadder Hall where a new building will offer 180 bed spaces. University Hall annex, where work will start early next year, will provide another 220 bed spaces. Gregory Place, Old Wing – University Hall, and Andrew Melville Hall will all undergo refurbishment.

Ben Stuart, director of residential and business services, said: “We’re excited to be able to move ahead with this wide-ranging programme which will provide the single largest expansion of student bedrooms in St Andrews for over a decade.

“Finding accommodation in St Andrews is perceived by some students to be a stressful challenge, when the reality is that there are often sufficient rooms and choices available.

“We are also fulfilling a commitment to the town that wherever possible we would provide modern, university-managed accommodation for students to lessen the pressures on the private housing market in the centre of St Andrews.”

Pat Mathewson, Students’ Association president, said: “This move is a testament to the university’s ongoing commitment to delivering the outstanding experience our students and graduates cherish.

“Furthermore, it demonstrates the effectiveness of our close partnership between staff and student leaders in tackling our community’s biggest challenges.”

Local Fife Councillor Brian Thomson welcomed the move:. He said: “The increasing number of HMO properties in St Andrews is having a hugely negative impact on the housing market and, in particular, the ability of local people to access affordable housing, and this will hopefully play a part in reducing the demand for such properties.”

The announcement of the plans comes in a year when the university has seen 155 vacancies in its own accommodation and accommodation provided by other agencies has not been fully occupied. It is believed that halls at East Sands and Ayton House have not proved popular with students because they are perceived as being too far from the town centre – and too expensive.

Niall Scott, the university’s director of communication, described this year as: “unusual and due to a combination of factors – smaller than expected entrant class, more students choosing study abroad, some deferring entry. Normally we run at over 95 per cent occupancy.”