A Bath university student has written a letter in defence of his peers in the city.
Following a story about an application for the 20th house of multiple occupation in a single road, Bath Spa University student Tom Morris responded.
He says there are “clearly not enough student properties for the volume of students that the two (very high standard) universities produce”.
In light of the tourism and money students bring to Bath, he “simply cannot understand why people have such a hatred for us students”.
This is his letter in full:
After recently reading an article posted by Bronte Howard with Mrs Player regarding the HMOs on Lansdown View, I felt it necessary to reply back to you and also to you, Wera, as our newly-elected local MP.
I am full-on disgusted with the way students are spoke of in Bath. I came to Bath two years ago to begin my degree at Bath Spa University, of which I was ecstatic as it looked and felt like a thriving, bustling and welcoming city.
However, with articles such as the Lansdown View HMO and the rubbish one a few weeks ago, I do not feel welcome in this beautiful city, which is a grand shame. It almost feels like students are judged even when they walk down the street by some residents!
My house last year was in Oldfield Park, of which we had lovely neighbours next door who welcomed students into the community by doing various things for us particularly, such as putting the bins out during the holidays. (We cannot control which days the rubbish is collected, hence why during moving procedures this can lead to an amount of rubbish.) Now I have moved onto one of the HMOs in Lansdown View, and to see this article and the language used, I was near on upset.
Surely, as Wera can approve of my thought, this is not what Bath stands for. A community is a group of people from all different backgrounds coming together and forming a lovely, clean and welcoming atmosphere.
I feel with residents such as these, who take advantage of the students in the city when they pop into M&S and are served by ‘the lovely girl at the till’, it is hypocritical to say that students are ruining the community that Bath stands for.
The truth of the matter is Bath is a small heritage city, and there is clearly not enough student properties for the volume of students that the two (very high standard) universities produce.
It is time for local residents to stop going to the press about their problem and go to the root of the issue, and that is the universities themselves taking on more students (which can affect the contact time of many courses per individual).
The amount of money that not only students but tourism brings to this city must be massive, so I simply cannot understand why people have such a hatred for us students.
Yes, some groups of students are rowdy, noisy and can be a nuisance, but I can assure you that 80-plus per cent of us are people who understand the problems, and want to do something about it. We are future doctors, artists, scientists, psychologists, entertainers and politicians, and trust me when I say that we care about this planet and we care about Bath.
I sincerely hope to see a change of topic within the Chronicle very soon, before more stick and stones are thrown.
Here is Mrs Hobhouse’s reply:
I agree that students contribute to the community, both economically and socially, and Bath is richer for them. What you are experiencing is a symptom of a larger issue, and that is a chronic housing shortage locally and nationally. This is the fault of government housing policy, not students.
In Bath we have a long waiting list of over 4,000 people who can’t access social housing. Our limited stock of social housing is being depleted by the government’s housing policy. We also have families who can’t find affordable houses, which are also being depleted, as more and more are turned into houses of multiple occupation, which in turn impacts the local community.
As you suggest, large sums of money come with students, and Bath is also under pressure to convert industrial land into purpose-built student accommodation. This all adds incredible pressure on everyone involved.
You are upset by the comments of local residents, but local residents are upset by the changes to their streets and to their communities. I wish more students were as engaged in the local community as you clearly seem to be.
I assure you that I am working to change the government’s mind, to allow councils to borrow to build more social housing, and I am joining the call for the universities to build more accommodation on the sites they have already been given.
I believe that if we can act on all of these areas, then we will begin to take the hurt and anger out of the situation, and begin to find a way through. Any city must carefully balance the needs of all its residents and Bath is no exception. We must stop playing a blame game with each other. Everyone deserves somewhere decent to live, but we are all suffering from the government’s failed housing policy, and we are all fed up with it.