Firm v insurance - slightly worrying Birmingham and accommodation)(32 Posts)
Have recently seen poster talking about accommodation problems with clearing places, but heard a worrying story this week from a friend.
A DC firmed Imperial College for Physics, needed A* A* A (predicted).
DC got the grades, but in the wrong subjects, should have got A* for Maths, got A. Did get the A* Physics.
Ok, so far, so fair - did miss the prescribed grades.
Accepted his insurance offer same day - Birmingham, then told there was no accommodation, would be sorted out when they arrived.
Arrived to find chaotic accommodation situation.
In a big hall, student told to get in to group of four (no-one knew anyone at that point - and go out and look for accommodation - ie rental properties in Birmingham.)
The DC was not street-wise - from a semi-rural setting, but even for a 'streetwise' 18 year old would have been a very harsh intro to Uni.
My DC will not be applying to Birmingham!
I've heard this exact same scenario from other unis as well Dontgo. So not just Birmingham.
So many do not get into their first choice that this is really important. If your DC chooses an aspirational choice for their firm then all the more reason to make their insurance somewhere they will be very happy with.
My DS had a very high risk firm and accommodation at his insurance added to the worry. They usually have some ranking system for allocation of halls sometimes insurance offer holders rank above those from clearing.
Luckily this meant DS did get halls at the insurance uni
I too think you are being unfair to Birmingham.This year, in particular, University intake numbers were higher than usual. Everyone who didn't get their first choice university then had to be fairly pro-active in sorting their accommodation for their second choice. Wherever they were in the Country. My ds's friend is in a room in a house without any other students (not in Birmingham).
Its not good but I remember this happening 20 years ago when I started uni. People were put up in dorm rooms above a pub which had rats in it. The accommodation office did help them find more suitable housing but it took a couple of weeks.
Its a shame that Birmingham accommodation office didnt provide more support with finding places.
This has happened at other unis this year too OP.
My local uni has had 2 students sharing what were supposed to be single rooms in some halls, because more first year students met their offer requirements than expected.
There are whole streets in Selly Oak occupied by house staring students, so yes they have to deal with private landlords (and there are some bad ones there) but the whole area caters to the student population so it is not quite halls but not far off really.
I went to Birmingham in the 90s and they forgot I send me my accommodation forms and I ended up in a university flat share with a bunch of foreign students. I didn't live it but I got by.
Bristol had too many students for the amount of rooms this year, but dealt with it in a different way. Instead of sending the extra students out into the private sector, it honoured the promise of accommodation for all first year students. The downside of this was that a lot of students ended up sharing in the larger rooms (when they had expected to have a room to themselves).
My dd was lucky and got her own room, but this may have been because she was an insurance candidate, rather than coming in through clearing. It is a good idea to pick insurance & clearing places with an eye to accommodation problems.
The same thing happened to my DS1's friends in Sheffield, and to another in Leeds.
DS2 was keen to go to Birmingham but when he went to the open day he didn't like it very much because of the way the course was set up. If it was right and he had had to find his own accomadation he would have still applied.
Bristol always has too many students for the rooms! It is just very popular! No-one is ever put off from going there because of that though.
Mumslife, it's not a great situation, but the universities are between a rock and a hard place. They don't know how many first year students they'll get and every empty university room ("void") costs money, so they have to do a balancing act between trying to ensure they have enough rooms for the first years, and putting returning second and third year students into university rooms to minimise the number of voids.
This happened to me 30 years ago (also in the midlands but not B'ham). I'd accepted my first choice place the previous March/April, and was given a camp bed in the living room of a self-catering hall where a dozen or so other girls lived, 8 of us sharing. We were also told to get into groups of four, and were sorted pretty quickly but none of us would have chosen to live together so the first year was all a bit of a damp squib.
What really pissed me off was that there were girls who'd gone through clearance only the week before the start of term, and they'd been allocated actual rooms in the hall!
Awful to think it's still happening.
So the story id third hand? From DC to parent to you?
Urban myth thrives this way.
Why would anyone make such a story up? BlueStocking explains very well why it is happening.
Well, the thing is at Birmingham, the student houses (private lets) are usually closer to the University than the actual Halls of Residence are. I happened to drive down one of the roads last week, and there are 'To Let' boards above many, many houses. These are just across the road from the University. The students aren't been left to raom the big bad city on their own without a clue where places are.
When you go into 'student halls' it's 'pot luck' who you get put in with too - I can't see that's any different from being asked to get into a group of 4 with people you don't know when you get there. No-one knows their flatmates before they get there, surely ?
If you only have one day to find accommodation I'm not sure how else you can do it. A random 4-some is as close to halls allocation as you can get. They could, I suppose, do some sort of speed dating but I'm not sure how much better that would actually be. I guess a pre-request form completed where they put you into 4's might be better but, unfortunately, there will still be some teenagers who refuse to do what someone else tells them to do and mucks that system up as well!
Hopefully, when they send them out into the town to look they also give them letting agency phone numbers etc (and those agencies will also be on alert) so they will have a certain amount of guidance during the day.
I do agree it's a very big learning curve and very much in at the deep end, but I'm not sure that's a terribly bad thing. Knowing you have faced obstacles and got over them. Also the process of looking will be slightly bonding in itself. As opposed to halls where bonding seems to be done over a vodka bottle.
Some people would be OK with this situation, but many others would not.
The moral of the story is to check whether your insurance choice university has guaranteed accommodation in halls for ALL first years.
Why don't you write to the head of accommodation services at Birmingham, Stuart Richards, and ask him exactly what happened? Yes, he'll give you the official line, but he won't lie about it. Much better to do that than spread what may not be exactly an urban myth but is sure to be an exaggerated and hyped-up version of what actually happened.
York & Bristol do offer accommodation for Insurance candidates.
Royal Holloway and Exeter don't guarantee it.
Best to ring each university accommodation office to check though.
Southampton can't possibly offer accommodation for three/four years of UG study - they only have 6000 odd bed spaces, and a UG cohort of about 19,000.
Oops, sorry, misread your PP, Mumslife. Southampton offer accommodation to all first years as long as the application is in by 1 August. Not sure how that stacks up with A-level result dates.
I think Mumslife is talking about the first years accommodation (so am I).
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