Residents of the Mayoral Drive Student Accommodation have expressed disappointment over what they describe as misleading advertising. Several students claim AUT promoted recreational facilities as part of the accommodation, however they have been unable to access them due to ongoing construction.
The Mayoral Drive Accommodation, which is part of AUT’s WQ Building is open to all tertiary students, not just AUT students, and is home to several UoA students. Earlier this year, Debate Magazine reported that the WQ building was undergoing construction until at least mid-May. However, several residents told Craccum that they were not informed that recreational facilities were still under construction before moving in. The cost of a room at Mayoral Drive starts at $375 per week, a rate some residents feel is high without access to these facilities.
Screenshots from April provided to Craccum from AUT’s website shows images of the facilities at the WQ building as part of the Mayoral Drive accommodation. In emails to students, AUT also advertised the facilities as part of the accommodation experience.“Staying at the WQ building offers students more than just a fantastic place to rest and study. It has a recreation centre, a sports court with balcony seating.” Some student residents feel it was dishonest to advertise these facilities if they were not yet open.
Addressing AUT in a formal complaint, 51 residents signed a petition, requesting their accommodation rate be reduced to $300 per week until all facilities, including the sports court and gym, were fully open. “The students assert that AUT has deceived them about the accommodation, and they were not informed of the construction delays until after they had made payments and moved in.” In the petition, residents also requested for AUT to update its webpage for the accommodation so that no other students were misled. AUT updated its website to remove photos and any mention of these facilities after the complaint was made.
In a reply to WQ residents, AUT told students that their accommodation fee “does not specifically include an amount for use of the Recreation centre.” In AUT’s official response to Craccum, they clarified that residents are charged a market related fee that does not include an amount for use of the recreation centre. “This is clarified in the Residence Agreement that defines the accommodation as ‘the room, the building, and the common areas/facilities’.”
The WQ Complex recreation centre and facilities are separate from the student accommodation. These facilities are funded by the student building levy, which costs $77.52 for each AUT student in addition to tuition fees. AUT emphasised this in their response to Craccum. “The AUT student Recreation Centre is part of the WQ complex (along with staff offices and other spaces that are separate to the accommodation).” AUT did not make any comment regarding claims of misleading advertising.
AUT’s response to residents also detailed that residents who are not AUT students would pay a fee to use the Recreation Centre. “This centre is for all AUT students, and in 2021, AUT students will not pay to make use of it. One UoA resident told Craccum they believe not mentioning this in advertising was also misleading and that it would have impacted their decision to choose that accommodation. AUT said that more information on fees would be shared with any non-AUT residents. However, affected residents say they have not received any details since. The facilities are currently opening up for Semester Two.