> Facebook group ‘UWE Frenchay campus ripped me off’ is filled with comments by disgruntled student village residents, who claim that they have been stung with unreasonable and arbitrary fines

In the past week a Facebook page has been set up for students to complain about allegedly unreasonable and spurious fines imposed on Frenchay student village residents.To those whom have seen, ‘liked’ or even commented on this page it does seem at first that their criticisms hold merit. The fines that UWE have allegedly imposed, on occasion, do seem excessive, if not at times a little unfair.

Most students’ complaints are by and large grounded in the fact that they believe UWE has just created such charges and fines out of thin air.
One student claims that UWE charges “£10 per bag of rubbish removed” before wryly adding “screw a degree; I’m becoming a bin man for that money”.
If this is the case, then perhaps this would not a bad career move given the 50% unemployment rate of graduates.

Other student’s complaints pertain to allegations about staff in the village “Security (staff) just barging in without ringing the door bell” which seems to be a common complaint that contrasts directly with the UWE accommodation services’ terms and conditions.

These state that “The University will normally give at least 24 hours notice’ however does state that ‘immediate access is to be given in the event of an emergency or to carry out inspections required by health & safety legislation.”

In cases such as fire detectors being covered for smokers, this does seem like a worthy intrusion, with the £50 fine also a sensible penalty considering the risks involved.

But other fines such as £150 for a broken table leg and £463 for the replacement of the sofas that are included within the campus accommodation must be a casually crafted figure?

Or perhaps, UWE accommodation services has just become so fatigued with the constant replacement of such items after students drunken exploits that they decided to jack up the cost and pass it on to the end user.

When asked to comment on the page and associated criticisms, Accommodation Services stated that they would only be willing to comment on “individual cases with express permission from any third parties”. The Student Warden Team declined to comment.

To those that complain, it must be noted as clearly states in the contracts that are signed at the beginning of the tenancy that students are liable
“To pay to the University on demand a fair proportion of the reasonable costs and expenses properly incurred by the University in repairing or remedying any loss or damage caused to the Room or the Building or the contents where the University is unable to identify those who have caused the loss or damage.”

Clearly UWE’s idea of proportion in this case means ‘all’ otherwise implying that the £463 sofas previously mentioned, which one student describes as being “like the chairs you sit on waiting for the dentist”, actually cost more than said figure.

Sofa-gate aside, an important aspect of note within this Facebook page is students complaints surrounding the issue of blame, some calling it unfair as they were in “9-5 lectures”,” working at a homeless shelter” or “curing cancer”. But even here UWE accommodation services has its bare bones covered as can be seen in the former statement.

As previously mentioned, student concerns have been made clear about the campus staff and the allegations of entering rooms without notice are commented on by one student.

“I am sick of them just barging in when they feel like it. What’s wrong with knocking?” They then go on to say “and when the light went in my bathroom it took over a month for them to replace it, but when they found out I had a bought an extended internet cable to reach into the kitchen they sent someone round within 20 minutes”.

Another student claimed on the Facebook page “(I’m) gonna get fined for the dents in the bathroom door that the clumsy maintenance people made. Typical.”

Other comments criticised the allegedly overbearing security measures in the student village, such as “(they have) more CCTV and security guards than Heathrow after 9/11… those dangerous, dangerous fresher’s.”

Such allegations, however unproven have gained somewhat of a following with well over 400 people ‘liking’ this page with presumably many more to come.
By most students standards UWE does seem to be an establishment with high costs. The campus alone is pricey enough, between £3,945 and £5,556 a year, rates that are no doubt set to rise again next year.

Combine that with the cost of living in Bristol, books, fees and the inevitable fines from the library; the price of university does seem a little daunting. Are such fines, which some claim are arbitrary and excessive, really going to help matters?

The lesson for residents to be learned from this? Treat UWE accommodation like you would your own home. If that means urinating in the bin and defecating in the fridge then be prepared stump up and pay the fines.

Don’t forget, you agreed to it.

Toby Cryne