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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Action urged over student flats
St Andrews students during Freshers week
Students at St Andrews University celebrate Raisin Weekend
Groups of residents living near three of Scotland's oldest universities have formed an alliance to reduce the number of student flats nearby.

They claim bedsits have taken over large parts of the west end of Glasgow, Marchmont in Edinburgh and St Andrews.

The homeowners want the Scottish Executive to take action by reducing the density of student numbers.

Campaigner David Stay said residents were looking to ministers "to realise this is a problem".

The alliance consists of Hillhead community council, the Marchmont Action Group Promoting Initiatives for the Environment (Magpie) and the Central St Andrews Residents Alliance.

They say the best way to solve the problem is to reduce the number of properties being granted a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) licence.

Students who are coming home at 0300 are more likely to have been working behind the bar than drinking in front of it
Jenny Duncan
NUS Scotland

Mr Stay said since the beginning of this year more than 100 HMOs had been granted for three, four and five-bedroom properties in the Marchmont area of Edinburgh.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Students have different lifestyles and many residents are being driven out of the area because of this.

"Keeping a sense of community here is not sustainable and eventually the area will just become a student ghetto."

But Jenny Duncan, from the National Union of Students Scotland, said the student party lifestyle was an "outdated stereotype".

She added: "If you look at students in Scotland today, a quarter of them are mature students. Demographics are very much moving away from the perception of them being nosy troublemakers.

What drives people away from the area is not student behaviour but the cost of housing
John Andrew Murray
Glasgow University SRC

"With increasing numbers of students forced into debt and having to take on part-time work, the students who are coming home at 3am are more likely to have been working behind the bar than drinking in front of it."

John Andrew Murray, president of Glasgow University students' representative council (SRC), said that without the millions of pounds contributed by students the city's west end would be another "faceless inner suburb".

He said: "The truth is that what drives people away from the area is not student behaviour but the cost of housing.

"People tend not to move to the west end or stay in the area because the cost of a one bedroom flat is more than a superior property almost anywhere else in Glasgow."

He added that by trying to cap the number of HMO properties more students would be forced into questionable and possibly dangerous rented accommodation.

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