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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 November, 2004, 11:16 GMT
Code to improve student halls
student room
Unite is one of the companies that have signed up
Students living in university accommodation in the UK are set to benefit from a new code of standards.

The code lays down minimum standards for student halls and sets out guidelines on repairs and maintenance.

Students can expect warning of any maintenance work to be carried out and alternative accommodation if a room is not ready for occupation.

The code stipulates that receipts must always be given and deposits must not be withheld unreasonably.

Facilities for washing and drying clothes must be provided and all gas appliances must be serviced annually.

There were only toilets and showers in the basement
Jason Crease, student

It also offers students details of a full complaints procedure.

Take up of the code is voluntary, but the National Union of Students is lobbying for it to apply to all student halls of residence.

Toilets in the basement

The introduction of the code seeks to improve living arrangements for students like Jason Crease, who spent his first year in Cambridge in a building not considered suitable for conference guests.

"There were no fire exits so there was a coil of rope in your room and you were supposed to put it around your waist and jump out of the window.

"There were only toilets and showers in the basement - and the building had four floors - and you had to go outside to get to the basement door, so it was rather a cold experience.

"And I always had to have my heating fixed - it never actually worked, so I had to wear a hat a lot of the time."

Varying standards

Over 70,000 students will be covered by the code initially, with the major private sector suppliers of accommodation - Opal Ltd, Prime Living Group Plc, Unite Plc and University Partnerships Programme - and Leeds University signing up for the scheme.

The code is a joint project between the NUS, the student housing charity Unipol and the Accreditation Network UK.

The NUS vice-president of welfare, Helen Symons, said: "For too long, there has been varying levels of treatment of students by accommodation providers, from university to university and even from hall to hall on some campuses.

"NUS hopes that this code of standard will tidy up the way that student accommodation is run and that student complaints of shoddy treatment at the hands of the accommodation managers will be a thing of the past.

"We hope that universities will follow the example set by private companies and sign up to the code to ensure consistent standards for students in all halls, no matter who owns them."

Martin Blakey, chief executive of Unipol, said: "I am delighted that many large providers of student accommodation, including both the public and private sector, have come together to commit themselves to a set of accountable standards."




SEE ALSO:
Freshers - the year begins
05 Oct 04 |  Education
Students flee danger flats
26 Oct 03 |  South Yorkshire
Students' rooms are not yet built
22 Sep 03 |  Education


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