A number of student accommodation residents have dealt with confusion last week after being told they were unable to enter accommodation premises.
Green MP and Spokesperson for Tertiary Education Chlöe Swarbrick highlighted the issue on social media, saying on Facebook that she had become aware of a small group of students being turned away from student accommodation.
Swarbrick did not confirm which universities were responsible for the accommodation, however said last Tuesday that the students affected have eventually been able to enter accommodation. A spokesperson from the University of Auckland told Newshub that none of the University’s accommodation residents were barred from the facilities, and residents were able to arrange to move in during Alert Level Three.
However, Craccum understands that during the periods at Alert Level Three over the past year, University of Auckland accommodation residents were told in residence-wide communications that they were unable to check-in to accommodation until the Alert Level was lowered. Residents who left accomodation during Alert Levels Three and Four were unable to return until Alert Level Two in order to adhere to the Alert Level guidelines.
In a recent Facebook livestream, Swarbrick commented that the situation reflects many of the larger issues within the student accommodation sector, namely a lack of regulation.
“There are eight different universities who have each between two and about a dozen different student accommodation halls. There’s between several dozen to hundreds of students inside of each of those halls,” said Swarbrick.
“Ultimately every student who goes into them does so with the assumption that the university is responsible for what happens there, and we’re finding that that is not often the case, unfortunately.”
Craccum has previously reported on Swarbrick’s concerns regarding the student accommodation sector, with the Green Party likening it to the “Wild West”.
“During the [first] COVID-19 lockdown, thousands of students were charged by providers for accommodation that they couldn’t stay in,” Swarbrick highlighted at the time.
As a result of the issues highlighted by last year’s nationwide lockdown, a parliamentary enquiry into student accommodation was launched and took submissions last year. Public hearings will begin next week and the report is estimated to be completed at the end of May.