A student has been slapped with a huge bill for university digs – despite never having lived there.
Charlotte Dean, 19, owes £4,600 to Huddersfield University affiliated Dig Student, even though she turned down an offer to study at Huddersfield and went to the University of Sheffield instead.
Charlotte, who is now living in student accommodation in Sheffield, feels let down by the company and wants them to adopt a different policy to stop new students like herself from finding themselves in the same position.
But Dig Student, the university’s approved provider, battling a shortage of student accommodation, maintains the charge for the Storthes Hall student complex is valid as Charlotte failed to cancel her contract in time.
Charlotte realised she had a problem when she tried to cancel her contract five days after receiving her exam results, which allowed her to go to Sheffield.
She said: “Huddersfield was an insurance place but I decided to book accommodation because I didn’t think I’d get the grades to go to Sheffield and felt pressured by the e-mails they started sending me, which said that rooms were running out.
“I sent off my contract with a £200 deposit, thinking that if I decided to go to Sheffield I’d be able to cancel it, although I admit I may have overlooked the part where it explained their cancellation policy.
“But the policy at the University of Sheffield was a lot simpler and fairer. You only reserved a place before you got your grades and then paid the deposit afterwards.”
Dig Student allows students to cancel their accommodation up to 90 days before they are due to move in, which falls for most before they receive their A Level grades.
Charlotte, who is from Heswall in the Wirral, said: “The staff member I rang after I got my grades told me that I could only fill out a cancellation form, which would only come into effect if someone else took my place and in the meantime I would have to pay.
“Now they keep sending me letters and have threatened me with court action.
“Going to university is a confusing time and I couldn’t believe that a company for students would act like that, especially as I’ve since found out that other people found themselves in a similar position to me.
“I think they should change their contract so that other students will not be made to pay if they don’t take their place.”
A spokesman for Dig Student, Tariq Aziz, said: “When she signed the contract, which we always ask a guarantor to look over and sign, she legally bound herself and unfortunately cancelled her place when she was not within the 90 day cancellation period.
“If she had picked Huddersfield University as her first choice and not made the grades she would have been able to cancel but we do not offer a similar offer for those in Charlotte’s position.
“Our team offered her advice and we want to help even though she got herself into a difficult position as we don’t want students to have a bad experience.
“I would advise her to speak to the accommodation officer to discuss what options she has.”