Students react to Festival Gardens: ‘a shack in the car park’

— by Emma Greatorex, Jonathan Cresswell and Jamie Freshwater

The first residents of Festival Gardens have moved into their temporary accommodation, with many students taking to it with good spirits but there are still many concerned about the quality of the £30 per week portacabin housing.

Charlie was one of the first to move into Festival Gardens after applying for accommodation when she secured a place on a drama course through clearing.


Many of the Festival Gardens residents have taken the situation in good humour, making friends and swapping phone numbers. Photo: Jonathan Cresswell

She said: “I heard through email that I was going to be staying in a temporary accommodation and that it was going to be a twin room with an en-suite and I was like oh that sounds lovely, I can’t wait to go, and I got here and I was like ‘oh, right’.”

Charlie remained positive about university despite starting it in a portable cabin, saying: “I think it’s going to be good because everybody is in the same boat. We’ll all just get drunk and crawl back into bed.

“At least I’m at uni. All I was worried about was that I need a roof above my head.”

Charlie’s mother hopes to get her in permanent accommodation soon, saying if she “knew it was going to be for longer than a month”, she would “definitely not” let her child stay.

She said: “Luckily she’s got a viewing lined up for tomorrow. So hopefully that won’t be long but if that doesn’t turn up to be fruitful then I hope something decent will be found. It’s going to be an experience for her, put it that way … but it’s cheap, it’s £30 a week.”

James, who applied to study drama via clearing, explained there had been problems with his request for accommodation.

He said: “I didn’t hear anything for a while, turns out there’d been a mix up over my date of birth and I was put at the back of the queue again.”

When told he would be staying in Festival Village, he looked on Facebook to find out more: “I searched Lincoln accommodation and it comes up with the joke from ‘The Inbetweeners’ – ‘Goodbye first rate accommodation, hello University of Lincoln’ with a picture of one of these… which has gotten me a lot of grief.”

Joking about the tone messages sent out by the university about how “it will be a fantastic experience living with other students” he said: “I’m in a hut. I’m in a shack in the car park.

“I’m hoping to God I’m out of here before the frostbite sets in,” he added.

Chris Spendlove, registrar at the University of Lincoln, claimed they’d “housed everybody in permanent accommodation who’d applied to us by the 21st August”, during an interview with BBC Lincolnshire on Friday.

But one student moving into Festival Gardens told The Linc that she had applied for accommodation back in April. Rachel said she “couldn’t care less” about being put into the cabins she described as “a box with a bed in it, I’ll sleep in it”.

Some students have reacted less positively at the thought of moving into the cabins. Ruby, who applied through clearing to study interior architecture and design, has been put into a room in the Ibis Hotel four miles away from the university until a better option can be found. She could be moved to the temporary student village as more cabins arrive.

As many of the cabins will house two people, Ruby said she was concerned about the idea of sharing with someone she didn’t know: “I don’t want leave my stuff in there. I’ve got two laptops, I don’t want to leave two laptops in a room that I don’t know anything about.”

Her mother seemed even more unimpressed with the university’s answer to the lack of accommodation on campus.

She said: “I’m cross about the information we’ve had. We had an email Friday night and then nobody’s answered the phone since. And even the hotel that we phoned up yesterday, hadn’t got a list of who was staying at the hotel.

“We’ve just come to look at them and I’m really tempted to take my daughter home until they sort it out. I can’t believe I’m leaving her in a box. The bed isn’t even a full sized bed.”

“It’s emotional enough without having to deal with this situation.”

The Students’ Union has described the shortage of accommodation as a “major issue” at the university and have promised to offer support those affected.

Kayleigh Taylor, vice-president for welfare and diversity at Lincoln SU, said that they “sympathise with those students” without permanent accommodation.

She said: “It’s safe to say the Union isn’t happy with the current accommodation issue, it’s upsetting for new students and that’s certainly not the start you want when you move to university.

“The SU were assured last year when we had conversations with the university that they had strategies in place to prevent this from happening but I think it’s fair to say the university did not anticipate the amount of students that applied.

“What we can do is; support the students that have had to deal with this and ensure they have a good quality student experience. I’d ideally like to see university build something by the end of the next academic year so this doesn’t happen again, and will be making that known.”

One Response to Students react to Festival Gardens: ‘a shack in the car park’

  1. Rob Upton says:

    I am a third year student trying to get rid of my room in a house and no-one wants to take it!