The PDPLA always considered itself a friend and partner of the University of Portsmouth (UoP), our members provide many of the 12-15 thousand student rooms in the city which UoP depend upon to exist, without us they would have very few students and similarly, we have been keen to continually improve standards and facilities to ensure that UoP is successful as many of our businesses depend upon it.
However, this dynamic was always likely to change with the addition of 7-8 thousand new rooms in student halls, mainly in the 'student square' district that is developing around Portsmouth and Southsea station.
Over the past few months, UoP have stopped attending any meetings attended by the PDPLA and have not answered a number of questions we have put to them on matters important to our members. We suspected that we had become '2nd class' partners and all of their resources were being expended on the new halls providers, which is understandable, but there were also rumours about the Uni's own halls in Furze Lane, Milton.
Whilst UoP have yet to respond to our enquiry, we have had it confirmed that the UoP halls in Furze Lane will close in June next year - so this years admission will be the last. Our expectation is that the Uni bus service will also stop or be severely cut back, which will significantly affect those with properties along its route, as large numbers of students currently choose to live near Goldsmith Avenue / Fratton Bridge simply because of the free bus service.
As yet, the UoP have not given us any information on expected student numbers, priorities for halls, plans for the bus route or anything else which would help us plan and prepare for the changes which will occur next year. We will keep asking the questions and will relay any answers if and when we get them.
Whilst it is logical for UoP to want to be able to offer halls rooms for all 1st years who want them and all international students, especially those on ERASMUS courses who can find it difficult to find a place in the private sector for 4-6 months in the middle of a normal student year, it is unfair on the students to expect them to increase their already significant debt burden with halls rents which are often £600-700 per month. So while it is obviously easier to deal with one hall provider with, say, 800 rooms rather than 150 local landlords, we will continue to argue that UoP needs both and should do more to promote the benefits of living in the community.