St Helens College sells off student digs

St Helens College
St Helens College
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St Helens College is set to sell off its student halls to help balance the books.

The undergraduate accommodation at Yorkshire Gardens is to be sold this summer – leaving degree students with no option but to search for new places to live. College bosses say the facility, which is based in Ravenhead close to the Shires is currently only half-full, has been making a loss for several years.

As a result of diminishing demand for the college student accommodation we have taken the decision to dispose of the properties

Deputy principal Rob Molloy

But a parent of one of the affected students said: “The college is selling off the accommodation without offering support to its existing students, many of whom are about to move into the third year of their course. The college has not been clear about this and belatedly hand-delivered a letter to the current student occupiers stating that they will be selling the property to a local developer after plans to sell the properties was leaked.

“This facility provides a much-needed service for students. At least one of the students who currently lives there hails from more than 300 miles away from St Helens.”

The parent, who asked not to be identified, added: “Why was the decision-making process not open and transparent? Why are they not providing a safety net for students?

“Given the college’s values about every student voice being important and the welfare of students being a priority I’m shocked at the decision.

“As a major employer and a representative of the wider community it’s important that any decision around the college’s finances is made public.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for St Helens College confirmed plans to sell the Yorkshire Gardens higher education student accommodation but claimed affected students would be “fully supported” in finding alternative accommodation via lettings agencies.

The facility, which has the capacity to house 18 undergraduate students, is currently running at a 50 per cent rate of under-occupancy.

The spokeswoman claimed the accommodation was “no longer financially viable”.

Deputy principal and finance director Rob Molloy said: “As a result of diminishing demand for the college student accommodation we have taken the decision to dispose of the properties.

“The income from the sale of Yorkshire Gardens will enable the college to continue investing in its existing estate, providing outstanding resources for all students.”