QUB offering students accommodation in Belfast hotel rather than halls
QUEEN'S University is offering students accommodation in a Belfast hotel rather than taking on the cost of halls.
The short-term accommodation offer allows students to stay at the Wellington Park Hotel in south Belfast for a subsidised rate of £40 per night.
Queen's last night confirmed it has "contracted with the Wellington Park Hotel to retain all of their rooms until June 2022".
Located just a two-minute walk to the main Lanyon campus, the hotel offer includes continental breakfast and is available seven nights per week.
The university said the move was "due to unprecedented demand for Queen’s University accommodation this academic year".
The accommodation offer, which has been available since September, also comes as most classes at Queen's are being taught remotely until January 31 due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Less time is being spent in lecture halls and more students are deciding that living close to university is an unnecessary expense.
The cost of purpose-built student accommodation offered by universities also continues to soar. Figures released recently revealed that the cost of accommodation in Northern Ireland is leaving students with less than £30 per week to live on.
The student housing charity Unipol and National Union of Students said the average annual rent was around £5,256, which accounts for 81 per cent of the £6,428 maximum finance available to undergraduates.
In a statement on its website, Queen's said the short-term accommodation offer was open to "current students and staff".
"We have secured flexible short term accommodation at the Wellington Park Hotel for students and staff who wish to stay a night or more a week in Belfast," it states.
"The accommodation (bed and continental breakfast) is available seven nights per week at a subsidised rate of £40 per night for students (single occupancy) and £70 (double occupancy).
"For staff, the nightly rate is £62 (single occupancy) and £70 (double occupancy). Suites are available at a nightly rate of £95."
In recent years, rocketing accommodation costs in cities in the Republic has also led to students staying in hotels. A shortage of accommodation has also led to students booking nights in hotels and bed and breakfasts during the week while at college.
The Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, near Dublin, as well as the Limerick City Hotel are among those offering student accommodation at discounted prices.
A Queen's spokesperson last night told The Irish News that "new arrangement" with the Wellington Park Hotel in Belfast "has enabled students to avail of the accommodation in a way that suits their individual needs".
"Due to unprecedented demand for Queen’s University accommodation this academic year, Queen’s has contracted with the Wellington Park Hotel to retain all of their rooms until June 2022," she said.
"The demand is largely due to the higher number of students wishing to live in Belfast and the extensive support and flexible terms and conditions offered by the university to students during lockdowns.
"This new arrangement has enabled students to avail of the accommodation in a way that suits their individual needs - for example, a long-term catered basis for those staying seven days per week until June 2022 and also on a short-term bed and breakfast basis to support students who only need to be on campus for a few nights per week and therefore have the opportunity to book rooms as required."
Queen's has also offered a "contract pause" for some student accommodation. It states on its website that the option was made available after the university's "decision to adjust teaching arrangements for January 2022".
Students living in university accommodation were offered "an option to pause their contract for the month of January if they do not plan to live there during this time".