Erasmus Park – Over £100 a week – Real value for money?

Erasmus park is a right of passage for most Art students at the WSA. Over the years the feedback about Erasmus seems to get more extravagant and more unbelievable. Mushrooms growing out of the kitchen sink? More lime scale coming out the shower heads than actual water? A microwave that tries to be an oven? And all of this for now over £100 a week?

Fundamentally, when I lived in halls there wasn’t much right with anything. 10 people in a house, sharing a stupidly small kitchen with no oven and a really awful shower that couldn’t drown an ant. Yet, with this all said, my year at Erasmus park was the best year I had at university. The community feeling at Erasmus isn’t one you get in other halls and because of this the issues with ovens and showers can be over looked. Well, they could be when it cost less then £70 a week!

So, 3 years on since I lived in halls, a price increase of nearly £40 and the only real changes are houses 1-7 being given a facelift and ovens being put in them. I don’t feel enough has been done in the last 3 years to warrant this price increase. Feedback from students shows their concerns with the environment they have to live in.

“The kitchen is in a horrible state, and has been since we moved in. There is no oven, the fridge is broken, there are chips in the walls and ceiling, the colour scheme is yellow blue and green, the carpet is disgusting, the blind is broken, and it is generally dirty and was when we moved in.”

After a recent survey being filled out by residence of Erasmus, a whopping 85.7% of students don’t feel they get value for money and 73% of students feel Erasmus park is worse than expected.

“We have no oven, the ceiling falling off in the kitchen and it’s just really grubby.”

I feel every year this subject will come up and maybe in 3 more years houses 8 – 20 might be lucky enough to get an oven and a good clean and then 6 years on the rest of the house might get some attention. Should this really be the case? Should our students really be paying over £100 a week for this low standard of accommodation.

What’s the solution? I feel the University needs to look into the provision given to the Students at Erasmus park. Erasmus is used all year round by Pre-sessional Students in the summer, and a large amount of first years in the academic year, both home and international.

With the research I’m collating, I feel we should have a strong case to take to the university. Improvements need to happen sooner with more long term thought and planning, instead of palming our students of with a measly pay out if they start to complain.

Please feel free to comment on this, the more feedback the better and if any of the above effects you, fill out the survey.


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8 Comments on "Erasmus Park – Over £100 a week – Real value for money?"

  1. Charlene
    13/01/2011 at 1:59 pm Permalink

    As last year’s Accommodation Hotline Leader, I have a bit more insight than most, even though Im not an WSA student, albeit it was 4 months ago so not the freshest in my mind.

    The dirt issue was mostly down to (I would hope) the fact that there were MAJOR sewage problems with some of the bathrooms at EP, meaning massive work had to be undertaken in the Summer to even make the flats hospitable. No, its not ideal and not an enough to excuse the situation, but I think people need to be careful about how quickly they jump to the “the University doesn’t care” stand point – they do, the Accommodation team were always at ends with how they were having to struggle with the situation.

    Re ovens – the microwaves are the ovens (again, not ideal at all). They have a heating element in them and have an oven setting; if the complaint is about not having a stand alone oven, then more than fair enough and a very valid point – I hated having to explain the oven situation – but if its just the supposed lack of oven, they’re wrong.

    Re rent – £100 is the cheapest Ensuite room the University does, partly because of the lack of Unilink, partly because of the size of the room, but it is an Ensuite room. I think the constant rise is to do with making it in line with other Halls, as well as the rent situation in Winchester, where private housing is, on average, more expensive than Southampton by a fair bit. I agree that there should be a non-Ensuite alternative, but that’s a different topic.

    With regards to the future – Chamberlain might be receiving a £1m make-over (I believe so, not guaranteed) – these are things that have been highlighted as problems for years, and Im pretty sure EP is up there as well. Again conjecture, but I think there are plans either to do EP up next, or even this Summer.

    The problem to me though, is the lack of rooms – there is not enough accommodation for WSA students or Soton students. A fair few students of WSA had to commute from Southampton (with the Uni covering expenses), which is not really on. Moreover, twinning in those rooms is hideous, and is also a larger problem in Soton.

    Improvements to infrastructure like ceilings etc will come, but push them for more rooms. Ask about the potential to get a Winchester version of Liberty Living (I think this might already be in motion anyway..). My two cents.

  2. Charlene
    15/01/2011 at 3:54 pm Permalink

    Coming to WSA directly from my foundation year the obvious thing to do is compare EP to my previous halls. This is a competition EP wins hands down. That being said its price tag is somewhat higher than my previous residence. Paying just over £70 for a non en-suite room in a building that started its decline in the 70’s was exactly what i was expecting from a halls of residence – in comparison to this EP seemed somewhat dream like.

    I’m lucky enough to be living in one of the ‘better’ houses – newly kitted with an oven etc. Having spent time in the houses at the other end of the building i think the complaints regarding ovens/their microwave counterparts are mostly fair, however replacing/fitting the rest of the houses is obviously not a few days work, so surely the fact that they’ve started these improvements is a good sign for future EP residents?Even if it doesn’t help its current occupants.

    As far as ‘dirt’ goes i’m yet to experience such problems. Granted the lime scale in the shower and bathroom taps has started to become visible but at no point was it claimed the cleaning teams would be cleaning your bathroom for you. Same going for the kitchen – aside from one individual (who as far as i’m aware no longer works at EP) id say my experience with the cleaning staff in the house has been good. Its not their job to be tidying up after your mental night, and as far as i can tell they’ve been carrying out their jobs pretty well.

    I also think its worth noting, continuing from what Sasha’s saying about ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, that its a rare day i don’t see those fine gents from the ‘handyman’ company. Also the quality of their repairs that i’ve witnessed is far better than my previous residents – where it appeared to be one man ‘caring’ for 4 buildings worth of flats, and repairs were botch jobs at best.

    To round up, i can warrant paying more for residence at EP. I’m in a room the same size as previously, only now its en-suite, the general condition of the building is far far superior to my previous halls – and then theres location. Large Tesco only 5min walk, town/uni 15min walk where as previously i had to take busses between campuses and then another to town (we wont even get started on shopping), and of course its Winchester. Nice area and generally more expensive to live in so that effects cost of halls. Compared to alot of uni’s (including halls i saw in Soton) we’re in a far better position. Given that, it is a high price. As i say, i think this residence is worth more than £70 without question but more than £100 when you can get rooms in houses for less than £90?It is high, particularly for those who are having a less pleasant experience to me!

  3. Charlene
    16/01/2011 at 9:24 pm Permalink

    I mainly agree with Sam on parts of this, coming to Erasmus Park I was expecting a flat or house, that wasn’t in the best of conditions but was liveable, but have found almost the opposite. My flatmates and I are lucky to live in a fairly large flat with a big kitchen, brand new oven and what appears like slightly larger rooms than some other flats and houses we have seen. With the exceptions of a few stains here and there, I too have yet to experience dirt as an issue. It is completely understandable to complain about just having a microwave to cook a meal, but I have noticed even in the few months we have been here a few other houses have been getting new kitchens fitted, or a few days worth of work happening to them.

    As soon as there is a problem with the plubbing or something similar, as there were many when we moved into the flat, the ‘workmen’ are around as soon as possible and the problem resolved pretty much straight away. And the cleaning staff are always on time and do the best job they can regardless of the mess we have undoubtedly left around the kitchen.

    However, I have been told that there are various different levels of rent depending whereabouts you live in EP, which I do not believe you are told when you apply. I can understand there being a higher fee for say a slightly larger flat or one that has been recently modernised but have been told there is quite a difference in what people are paying regardless of where they are living, and this leaves students with barely any loan to live off. So I agree almost wholeheartedly that the rent at EP is too high. For us it has been a case of just being lucky getting the flat we have, and therefore have nothing substantial to complain about, but others haven’t been quite so lucky and are suffering with houses or flats that appear to have not been so ‘well tended’ too. Visiting other halls of residence as well you get to see that there is a lot more value for money in terms of things given back to the students, there are more places for students to gather together, maybe a cafe or coffee shop (which may defeat the point of halls kitchens altogether), possibly even a small shop to pick up groceries. And these students are paying less than we are. I understand that EP is a small site, but there isn’t that much around to warrant paying so much.

    We all appreciate that Winchester is an expensive area, but paying rent at more than £100 seems very steep because of the points above. I agree with Sam that you couldn’t get it down to around £70 because most of us are having the best experiences here, but considering you can rent a proper house for less than we are paying puts it into perspective slightly!

  4. Charlene
    Jay Shelley
    17/01/2011 at 2:14 pm Permalink

    I agree with Sam and Harriet,
    I live in the second block at EP in a ground floor flat sharing with only 6 others and a specious kitchien floorwise although not cuboard wise we have one cuboard each to sqish everything kitchien stuff and dry goods food and condiments etc I am forever dropping stuff on the floor it is like a rugby tackle venturing into my cuboardLOL We have been given a lovely new cooker as well as still having the microwave/oven on top of side, to start with the hard water here was quite amazing but I think something has been done regarding the water/plumping in the last few weeks as it seems a lot better, we have just had nice new taps put in so no get wet where you dont want to anymore, our cleaning staff are second to none, fantastic service, they never moan even after some mental nights you may all have it is a partnership here help look after and clean up and we look after you too. I was very VERY DISAPPOINTED to hear of the blatant and selfish damage done to the communal room before christmas resulting in it being shut for number of weeks, thanks for that spoiling it for the rest of us, also no dvd recorder either because that was smashed up by certain two people yes you know who you are! because you were too impatient to get your cd/dvd back I know it was slow and on the old side but that was no excuse!
    So I and others who do not have our own telly or cd/dvd player cannot access this anymore and I doubt we will get a new one with that behaviour, last but not least the remote control has been taken by someone I have personnally been looking for that for weeks I find it very difficult to access the different channels.

    I do pay slightly more for my room but it is bigger so fair enough, I would love to access Southampton Uni with free uni-link bus but not available here that is the only down side but fortunatly we are lucky to have winchester only 10/15 mintues walk away. MY BIG DREAM COME TRUE WOULD BE TO CATERING INCLUDED AS A CHOICE during week days at Latte in WSA. Accommodation/Southampton Uni do care it is just they have there hands tied because EP does not belong to them so everything is done by constant negotiation between them and the owners O2 Dominion, the workman here are always running around fixing something, A BIG THANKYOU TO THEM
    If we cant get a free bus for next year how about cheaper Parking permits and let it be allowable for those of us living away from Southampton uni in their first year, we have a lovely huge car park which is empty such a shame!!!! I can understand first not having a car in Southampton but they do not need it with having free uni-link and everything so cental all the facilities you have different coffee bars student cinema student bars shops banks on site so no problems running out of money to pay for stuff, i have a half hour walk to get money from wsa. Big Empty CARPARK versus no money coming in that is so silly!!
    I am very fortunate because of my disability I have been granted a permit but I still have to pay for it, it took so long to sort it out I am paying £180 at this time, but come september it will be £240, as I am staying in Erasmus for the whole duration of my time at wsa. The staff here at EP have been so supportive, they are doing there best to improve things all round, More work is in the pipeline for this summer when we are on vacation.

  5. Charlene
    Laura Gardner
    01/03/2011 at 2:35 am Permalink

    I would just like to point out that Winchester may well be an expensive area, but I am paying less now that I am in a privately rented house in my second year, with a living room, an oven etc than I was paying living in EP last year.

  6. Charlene
    29/03/2011 at 2:46 am Permalink

    I can’t believe we’re paying over £100 a week I understand Winchester is the 2nd most expensive place to live in but the quality and standard of halls are really poor my whole room is just full of mould. Any paper left on the carpet turns into mould and there’s mould on my ceiling too and nothing is being done about despite telling the office people twice.
    It’s not really how much we’re paying either it’s just the value and what we’re getting in return for the costly rent which is aggravating me as it is seriously overpriced which I can’t understand why since I’m living in a squat. I have no cupboard space in the kitchen and there are only 6 of us. My kitchen storage is under the sink where my stuff gets wet and I’m pretty much living out of a plastic box left on the side.

    To be honest the only good thing about living in halls are my housemates.

  7. Charlene
    29/03/2011 at 4:13 pm Permalink

    Hi Becky,

    I hope you have seen the survey that has been going round EP. Please make sure you fill it out and get as many people you know to do the same. Its important to get feedback on EP and the surveys are the perfect way to do that. the JCR up at EP are going round with the survey if you havent already seen it, ask them for a copy to fill out if so.

    thanks for you comment.


  8. Charlene
    16/04/2011 at 1:46 pm Permalink

    Addressing Sasha RE, re-Unilink Unilink is an additional charge ontop of hall charges which is also optional, somewhere around £100+ so it does not factor into the costs of housing.

    Putting housing price in line with the rest of soton halls… that’s a joke. We are not on standard with halls in soton and comparing it to Chamberlain which is probably neither the worst or best, but prior to last year EP was one of the highest charged places to live. Thanks to the complaints by the tennants of last year. last years rent was approx £120, so we got a decrease. But what do the other places have that we do not? Hall bars, better furnished lounges (ps3 and the like) but with the damage from christmas, it’d just be more things to pay for.

    Then you also have to consider that the greater university has access to not only the campus but is within proximity of other halls and a greater student body. We at wsa and especially EP are cut off from the greater student population here, we are a community of art students and artists with no interaction with other art students, dancers, film makers, writers etc that are all available at winchester uni and the arts college close by. It’s nice and all to say we are a different university, but the main university does not offer us anything worth being excited about beyound sub par housing and an education that they are constantly trying to model and remodel.

    The general feeling is that we are being given the letter head of a good university without any of the adequate benefits that come with it.

    “Hi I go to University of Southampton.” how is it there? “Well actually my campus is in Winchester and I only go to southampton to drink so I have no idea what the main uni is like, it’s too much of a hassle to go there.”

    Seriously you cannot compare the res halls at EP to anything else the main uni has to offer in standards or community, or access.

    I would like to find students who even know of EPs existance and know how to get to it.

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