A change to prioritise student accommodation in Hobart for first year students and those from “geographical disparate areas” is not affecting Launceston students.
The changes, outlined on Monday by the University of Tasmania, have been slammed by the Tasmanian University Union, as accommodation stocks owned by UTAS in Hobart run low.
A petition started by the union about 24 hours ago had 3491 signatures on Tuesday afternoon.
UTAS student experience executive director Steph Taylor said on Monday UTAS had recognised the tightening in Hobart’s housing market “some years ago” and began a program to increase supply.
“We will continue to focus our efforts, but demand will remain tight and, while that is the case, the university recognises the need to have clear principles for the fair allocation of access to accommodation,” she said.
A program has been established by the university to try to attract international students to the Launceston campus, which does not have issues with accommodation.
The changes have drawn the ire of the union and concern from Tasmanian Senator Carol Brown.
“Students living in university accommodation are financially vulnerable and should have been given adequate notice regarding the future of their tenancy,” TUU president Sharifah Syed Rohan said.
“Students have raised concerns with me around their future, particularly those who are undertaking spring and summer school units and those who have casual and part-time jobs.
“It is unacceptable that many could be forced to discontinue their studies at the university, which would be contrary to promoting a positive student experience. Students have just completed a stressful academic period, with many continuing through spring and summer school and this adds unnecessary stress.”
Senator Brown described the changes as a “bungled process” and called for vice-chancellor Rufus Black to address the issue and students to resolve the “crisis.”
“Questions remain about how and when this crisis emerged and why students are only being informed now. These questions need to be answered and the crisis needs to be resolved,” she said.
Senator Brown said 430 apartments were built on Melville Street in Hobart under a Labor government.
“Under the Liberals we’ve seen under investment in student housing and now we’re witnessing the consequences,” she said.
Ms Taylor said the weighting towards commencing students recognised those who have been part of the community and city have already formed social networks and would be better equipped to find alternative accommodation arrangements.
“It is important to note that acceptance in any year does not imply ongoing accommodation in our properties.”
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