As an unprecedented heatwave surges across Europe, spare a thought for those students who are braving the summer in their university accommodation.
Data from the latest Global Student Living Index – a survey of over 65,000 students across Europe – shows that room temperature is amongst the most frequent complaints made by students about their accommodation, with around 1 in 5 rating it negatively.
A combination of older building stock, construction materials and unsympathetic building design means those in university-run accommodation tend to suffer slightly more (23% negative) than those in private sector accommodation (19%). Poor insulation leading to rooms being too hot in summer and too cold in winter are a common complaint, as are windows that won’t open fully, and the lack of in-room controls for temperature.
Perhaps surprisingly, the data shows no significant difference in the experience of students identifying as male or female though it’s clear, in the UK at least, that domestic students (21% negative) struggle more with the temperature than students visiting the UK from outside the EU (15% negative).
However, it’s the findings relating to disabled students that are the most significant cause for concern. More than 2,500 survey respondents self-identified as having a “long-term illness, health problem or disability which limits [their] daily activities or the work [they] can do”. Analysis of the data shows that this group of students are 50% more likely than ‘non-disabled’ students to report negative experiences of temperature in their accommodation (28% vs 18% respectively).
In addition to the issues experienced by all students in managing room temperatures, disabled students also cited concerns about security when leaving windows open (particularly on the ground floor), the wild temperature fluctuations leaving them vulnerable to illness, and the unsuitability of some equipment for wheelchair users in particular.
Bethany Bale, Education Policy Officer at Disability Rights UK commented,