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August 9, 2010 | by  | in News |
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University Hall Closes Door on Domestic Students

University Hall will no longer cater to groups of domestic students from 2011 onwards, Head of Hall Joy Schofield confirmed late last month.

In a letter to residents, Schofield said that domestic students currently living in the hall would be unable to reapply, and that family accommodation would be limited.

Currently any students except school leavers are eligible to apply for Univerity Hall. As of next year places will be much more limited for domestic students.

When approached by Salient, Manager of Student Accommodation Nick Merrett clarified and explained the changes outlined by Schofield.

“University Hall will still be catering to a mix of international and domestic students in 2011.

“What is changing is that we won’t be providing flats for groups of domestic students as we believe this market is already well catered for.”

University Hall consists of 52 self-contained houses and flats located close to the Kelburn Campus.

Currently eight of these properties are ‘Kiwi Mates’ flats, in which a domestic student lives with a flat of international or exchange students to help them become integrated in New Zealand.

Domestic students will continue to be hired and offered University Hall accommodation through the Kiwi Mates programme. They will assist Residential Assistants and will have an increased role from 2011 onwards.

Merrett says that the success of the Kiwi Mates programme was the principal reason behind the change.

“This is an innovative approach to providing accommodation to a mix of domestic and international students that has received positive feedback from all involved. Domestic students who wish to be part of a Kiwi Mate flat receive cultural and financial advantages, and international students get a fuller New Zealand experience during their time at Victoria.”

This development comes just months after Victoria University decided to close course enrolments to domestic students for the remainder of 2010 due to insufficient government funding. International students are still allowed to enrol as their fees are not subsidised by the government.

University Hall residents spoken to by Salient say that the higher accommodation fees paid by international students already affect the level of services offered to residents. When one resident asked for a heat pump to be installed they were told that these were only available to the Kiwi Mates flats, whose residents paid higher fees.

Another resident said that University Hall has failed to provide their flat with a working heater, but bought a brand new bed following a request from an exchange student.

When asked by Salient, Merrett said the amenities provided in the Kiwi Mates flats weren’t that different.

“The services provided in the houses will be slightly different as they will be fully furnished with utilities and internet included.”

According to the Accomodation Service website, all University Hall flats provide basic furniture but internet is at the expense of the residents.

Accommodation Service Halls of Residence Wai-te-ata Apartments and Te Kotahinga already give priority to international students.

Students spoken to by Salient say they are concerned about how the changes to University Hall will affect the availability of student accommodation.

“It’s already hard enough to find a flat in Wellington. Especially now that St. George has closed, it’s weird that they’re doing this to University Hall.”

Merrett believes that domestic students won’t be disadvantaged by the changes.

“In total, Halls of Residences offer more than 1500 places for domestic first year and returning students.”

She says that a number of measures will be taken to help students who may be affected.

“However, the Accommodation Service will be providing additional support to affected students seeking accommodation in the private market, and we also have a number of new apartments that have recently been completed which target the student market.”

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