STUDENTS at the University of St Andrews have been told to take accommodation in Dundee and commute amid a housing shortage in the area.

The university's website says that the commute is around an hour each way, but students in the town are reportedly struggling to find nearer accommodation in time for the beginning of term. 

Campaigners say that many students still don’t have a place to stay, weeks after the university acknowledged that it had received direct requests for help from more than 130 students. 

The university cited “external factors” for the lack of housing, including a cap on houses of multiple occupation and the conversion of rentals into Airbnbs, and said it would offer accommodation to those in need. 

READ MORE: New University of Glasgow students not guaranteed accommodation

The Campaign for Affordable Student Housing (Cash) said the university had to take some of the blame for the crisis after it demolished Albany Park student flats in 2018., with the replacement not due to be ready until 2026. 

The housing shortage has been made worse by larger student intakes in 2020 and 2021, as pupils were awarded teacher-assessed grades. 

In 2020, St Andrews joined Mears Student Life, a provider of student accommodation which offered rooms in the Old Mill, a facility in Dundee. 

Whilst the university described the area as being in “nearby Dundee,” the webpage for the hall also stated that it takes nearly an hour to commute to St Andrews using public transport

St Andrews also accepted 40% more postgraduate students in 2020. 

Cash said: “Many are flying across the world to study in St Andrews. They did not choose Dundee, and, for many […] this offer is simply not an option.”

READ MORE: Scotland's private rented sector is in crisis

It is believed some are looking at long-term Airbnb rentals and hotel stays. 

The university said: “We sympathise greatly with the stress students have reported flat hunting in a housing environment that is more highly pressured than ever. 

“In St Andrews this year, this is related to a wider lack of properties available in the rental market for reasons beyond the university’s control. 

“We will continue to prioritise new-entrant first year students to ensure they have accommodation in time for the start of the semester. 

“The University of St Andrews guarantees an offer of accommodation to all first-year undergraduate students that have applied.”

This comes after students at the University of Glasgow said they felt “hopeless” after being warned they were not guaranteed accommodation. 

Those who live within commuting distance were told not to enrol until they have private accommodation arranged.

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Meanwhile, those who lived further away, including international students, were informed that accommodation was unlikely to become available. 

Universities Scotland, which represents the country’s 19 higher education institutions said: “Every student should have a safe and affordable place to live. We will continue to work with [National Union of Students Scotland] to achieve this and we are fully engaged with the Scottish government’s review of purpose-built accommodation.”

The Students’ Representative Council said Glasgow had accepted too many students although the university blamed a “significant retraction in the rental market".

Term is set to start on September 5, with teaching then set to begin on September 12.