Students accommodation

John Clark made this Freedom of Information request to St Mary's University, Twickenham

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Waiting for an internal review by St Mary's University, Twickenham of their handling of this request.

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

1. Can you please tell me how many students you rented onsite accommodation to in the academic year 2019 - 2020?

2. How many students terminated their onsite accommodation licence agreement on the 8th April 2020?

Yours faithfully,

John Clark.

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

The response to my request has been delayed, by law, St Mary’s University should have responded promptly and by 23 October 2020.

Can you now deal with this request as a matter of urgency.

Yours faithfully,

John Clark

Freedom of Information, St Mary's University, Twickenham

Dear Sir

I am sorry for the delay in responding to your FOI request. I will look to ensure that a response is provided as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Browning
University Secretary and Head of Governance
Office of the Vice Chancellor
St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, TW1 4SX
020 8240 4267
07970 531112
[email address]

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for the update.

Looking through various FOI requests St Mary's don't seemingly comply with the timeframes set out by the ICO directive for responses to FOI requests.

Can you please explain the reason for delay for this very simple request for information please?

Yours sincerely,

John Clark

Freedom of Information, St Mary's University, Twickenham

Dear Sir

Please find the response to your FOI request below.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Browning
University Secretary and Head of Governance
Office of the Vice Chancellor
St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, TW1 4SX
020 8240 4267
07970 531112
[email address]

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

1. Can you please tell me how many students you rented onsite accommodation to in the academic year 2019 - 2020

• There were a total of 716 available bedrooms
• 706 rooms occupied as at 8th September 2020
• 679 rooms occupied as at 7th April 2020
• 727 students in total held an accommodation license during the 2019/20 academic year (including single semester residents and students who took academic interruption or withdrawal during the academic year)

2. How many students terminated their onsite accommodation licence agreement on the 8th April 2020?

• 598 students requested and were released from their license agreement as of 8th April 2020 due to Covid19

Yours faithfully,

John Clark.

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for this information.

I note that as at the 7th April 2020 you state that 679 rooms were occupied but then go on to state 598 students were released from their licence agreement as of 8th April 2020 due to Covid19.

Of the 679 room that you state were occupied on the 7th April 2020 can you please clarify:

(A) Were 679 students actually living in those rooms on the 7th April or had they previously vacated those rooms at an earlier date?

(B) Did 679 students ignore the advice from the Vice-Chairman on the 24th March to return home to their main accommodation?

(C) Or are you stating that because 679 students still had an accommodation licence in force with St Mary’s, then figure of 679 students that you state that occupied rooms is a figure based solely on that fact that an accommodation licence was still in force and NOT the number of students who were actually living in those rooms?

(D) Did 598 students move out of those rooms on the 7th April 2020?

(E) If 598 students didn't move out of those rooms on the 7th April can you please tell me the rough dates when the majority of those 598 students vacated those rooms?

Yours sincerely,

John Clark

Dear Freedom of Information,

Can you please clarify the request.

Yours sincerely,

John Clark

Freedom of Information, St Mary's University, Twickenham

1 Attachment

Dear Sir

 

Please see the further response to your questions below:-

 

(A) Were 679 students actually living in those rooms on the 7th April or
had they previously vacated those rooms at an earlier date?

 

We are unable to provide exact numbers of how many students were living in
accommodation on 7 April. Some had vacated at an earlier date, some had
left belongings in their accommodation and had not vacated.

 

(B) Did 679 students ignore the advice from the Vice-Chairman on the 24th
March to return home to their main accommodation?

 

For clarification, the interim Vice-Chancellor stated "for those students
who presently remaining in University accommodation Public Health England
have advised us that you should go home if you can safely do so"

 

The interim Vice-Chancellor was repeating the advice from Public Health
England. As has already been stated 598 students had requested release
from their licence by 7 April. We cannot provide exact figures as to the
exact day that they left their accommodation.

 

(C) Or are you stating that because 679 students still had an
accommodation licence in force with St Mary’s, then figure of 679 students
that you state that occupied rooms is a figure based solely on that fact
that an accommodation licence was still in force and NOT the number of
students who were actually living in those rooms?

 

See response to B above.

 

(D) Did 598 students move out of those rooms on the 7th April 2020?

 

598 students had surrendered their licence on 7 April. It was however the
case that many students still had left their belongings when they returned
home and so returned after 7 April to collect their belongings. We do not
have exact numbers of how many rooms had been fully vacated as at the 7
April.

 

(E) If 598 students didn't move out of those rooms on the 7th April can
you please tell me the rough dates when the majority of those 598 students
vacated those rooms?

 

Students who surrendered their licence would have fully vacated their
rooms between 24 March and the original expiry date of their licence
agreement in June.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Andrew Browning

University Secretary and Head of Governance

Office of the Vice Chancellor

St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, TW1 4SX

020 8240 4267

07970 531112

[1][email address]

 

[2]http://staffnet.stmarys.ac.uk/services-d...

 

 

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of St Mary's University, Twickenham's handling of my FOI request 'Students accommodation' In your reply you've stated:

Dear Sir
Please see the further response to your questions below:-

(A) Were 679 students actually living in those rooms on the 7th April or
had they previously vacated those rooms at an earlier date?

We are unable to provide exact numbers of how many students were living in
accommodation on 7 April. Some had vacated at an earlier date, some had
left belongings in their accommodation and had not vacated.
--------------------
Question 1. Do you agree that on the 27th March 2020 the Department for Education stated;
Government advice for students is to stay put in your accommodation and do not travel
https://mobile.twitter.com/educationgovu...

Therefore on the 7th April no student could leave their accommodation because non-essential travel was banned because of the coronavirus lockdown, hence the Department for Education advice to students on the 27th March?

Question 2: Do you agree that the governments advice in the period before ‘lockdown’, which started on 23 March 2020, the government advised students to return to their out-of-term homes if possible?

Source: Source: Office for Students, Coronavirus Briefing note 1 - 22nd April 2020
https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/med...

Question 3. If students hadn't left their accommodation between the period before lockdown which was the 23rd March and the 27th March when the Department for Education stated government advice for students to stay put in your accommodation - can you please explain how students could lawfully leave their accommodation on the 7th April?

-----------------------

(B) Did 679 students ignore the advice from the Vice-Chairman on the 24th
March to return home to their main accommodation?

For clarification, the interim Vice-Chancellor stated "for those students
who presently remaining in University accommodation Public Health England
have advised us that you should go home if you can safely do so"

Question 4.
A FOI reply from Public Heatlh England states that they didn't advise St Mary's that students should go home - can you please provide me with evidence of this?

FOI shown here:
Wn_coronavirus <[email address]>
Wed, Sep 23, 12:28 PM
Thank you for your email on the 14 September to Public Health England.
We have reviewed our records and have not been able to identify any advice that we have provided to St Mary's University, Twickenham from PHE London.
We are sorry we could not be of assistance on this occasion.
Yours sincerely
Nayena
Correspondence and Public Enquiries Officer
Public Health England (PHE)

Question 5. Is it the case Public Health England said nothing of the sort to St Mary's University, and the fact is that section 5 subsection 3 & 4 (a) (i) The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020... required St Mary's to cease their accommodation business to students who could return home, but the regulation didn't apply where students couldn't return home (i.e International students as an example) as no person was to be made homeless?

Do you agree that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Govt are clear on this point in their 24th March tweet, which stated: All hotels, hostels, and B&Bs providing rooms to support people who are homeless through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies – should remain open and are not affected by the guidance issued yesterday and therefore section 5 subsection 3 & 4 (a) (i) The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 doesn't just apply to holiday accommodation providers?

https://twitter.com/mhclg/status/1242472...

-------------------------------
The interim Vice-Chancellor was repeating the advice from Public Health
England. As has already been stated 598 students had requested release
from their licence by 7 April. We cannot provide exact figures as to the
exact day that they left their accommodation.

Question 6. Does St Mary's have a database of students who use their student ID card to swipe into their accommodation building which records times of entry and a database of students who use their student ID card to obtain meals from the student canteen?

----------------------------------

(C) Or are you stating that because 679 students still had an
accommodation licence in force with St Mary’s, then figure of 679 students
that you state that occupied rooms is a figure based solely on that fact
that an accommodation licence was still in force and NOT the number of
students who were actually living in those rooms?

See response to B above.
-------------------
(D) Did 598 students move out of those rooms on the 7th April 2020?

598 students had surrendered their licence on 7 April. It was however the
case that many students still had left their belongings when they returned
home and so returned after 7 April to collect their belongings. We do not
have exact numbers of how many rooms had been fully vacated as at the 7
April.

Question 7. How many of the 598 students in question used their student ID card to swipe into their accommodation on the 7th April?
Question 7(a). How many of the 598 rooms had the students belongings placed in storage?

(E) If 598 students didn't move out of those rooms on the 7th April can
you please tell me the rough dates when the majority of those 598 students
vacated those rooms?

Students who surrendered their licence would have fully vacated their
rooms between 24 March and the original expiry date of their licence
agreement in June.

Question 8. Do you agree that it is incorrect to claim that "Students who surrendered their licence would have fully vacated their rooms between 24 March and the original expiry date of their licence
agreement in June" - did any students write to St Mary's on the 20th March to tell the University they had returned to their homes?

Question 8 (a). The student charter states that; As a student I will; (3) Follow any direction received from University staff to help support me in adhering to the requirements.
https://www.stmarys.ac.uk/policies/stude...

Do you agree that any student who didn't follow the direction received from the Vice-Chairman's YouTube broadcast on the 24th March would be in breach of the student charter where you stated the VC said;

"for those students who presently remaining in University accommodation Public Health England have advised us that you should go home if you can safely do so"

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

I look forward to clarification of this internal review.

Yours faithfully,

John Clark

John Clark left an annotation ()

There is a very strong indication that the answer to this part or the FOI request requires further investigation to the validity of the reply.

(E) If 598 students didn't move out of those rooms on the 7th April can
you please tell me the rough dates when the majority of those 598 students
vacated those rooms?

Students who surrendered their licence would have fully vacated their
rooms between 24 March and the original expiry date of their licence
agreement in June.

Dear Freedom of Information,

Can I please chase an urgent reply to this request? There seems to be some ambiguity with the response.

Yours sincerely,

John Clark

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of St Mary's University, Twickenham's handling of my FOI request 'Students accommodation'.

The twitter post of @uni_dispute2 shows that the reply to this FOI request is allegedly dishonest.

https://mobile.twitter.com/uni_dispute2/...

I have been contacted by student who claims she left the university accommodation on the 19th March and sent the university an email prior to the 23rd March 2020 explaining she had left the university on the advice of the government & university and because the university had closed the premises down on government advice with the instruction to return home.

She is extremely nervous about the repercussions from the university in the making of a complaint to the University for the refund of her overchargedaccommodation fees, however she will speak directly with the regulatory body (the office of students & the Charity Commission) regarding this matter and make the email that she sent to the university available to them.

One would presume there is serious repercussions for a solicitor and FOI officer who is found to br dishonest when answering questions.

I have contacted the owner of the @uni_dispute2 twitter account to inform them.

Looking through the WDKN website it would seem the question remains unanswered as to how many emails St Mary's University received from students who told you they had vacated their rooms prior to the 23rd March (coronavirus lockdown on the government and university direction)

All of this information is in the public interest and society cannot accept perceived dishonesty from a public body.

Full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Yours faithfully,

John Clark

Dear Freedom of Information Officer.

Despite endless communication, appeals and internal reviews, you have failed to provide the information that I have requested under the FOI act.

You are aware that I am assisting a student with a complaint regarding overcharging for accommodation during the first coronavirus lockdown and this case is set to be heard with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) in the coming months.

I'm making a formal complaint to the ICO that your public body is refusing to answer my FOI requests in an attempt to not only hide this information from me but in an attempt to delay making this information available to the OIA to support the students case.

Yours sincerely,

John Clark.