Is VUW in breach of contract?

Stuff reports:

Students who signed up and paid for private rooms at Victoria University halls are shocked to hear – last minute – they’ll now be sharing bunk beds with strangers.

Katharine Jermyn Hall, on the corner of the Terrace and Boulcott St, sent emails to a number of students on Wednesday night telling them they would now be sharing a room at a discount rate.

The students, who signed up to single rooms as advertised, say the news comes just four days before they were due to move in to the 380-room hall. Students from other halls were also being consolidated into shared rooms.

Another student, said she was shocked to get the email just days before she was moving in.

“I called them straight away and said ‘I don’t want to share a room’, and they said ‘no, you’ll enjoy it, a lot of people really love it’.

That’s not a decision for the university to make and reeks of arrogance.

Students have applied for and been accepted for a single room. To tell them a few days before they arrive that they can’t have one is appalling, and leaves them with no options.

The students understood they were going into a private single room, which costs $359 per week. Many had paid thousands of dollars ahead in deposits.

To compensate, Victoria University said the affected students’ rent would be cut to $220 per week.

The contract the students signed says any changes to the price of the room is subject to two weeks’ notice.

On Thursday, Victoria University said that an increase in enrolments and a change in the number of withdrawals had led to the shared-room situation.

“Historically, up to one-third of students withdraw their accommodation application before the academic year starts, so it is normal practice to accept slightly more applications than the number of rooms available.

“This year there has been a further increase in enrolments and a change in the number of withdrawals. This means we have more applications than single rooms available at the moment although we expect this to be resolved in the coming weeks.”

The university should not accept more applications than places. They should take non refundable deposits and place others on a wait list.

But even if they do continue a policy of accepting more than places, then the better way to handle the over booking is not to force students into sharing, but to offer them discounted rates until you get enough who accept.

This is what good airlines do when over booked. They ask who is willing to fly on a later flight in exchange for a seat upgrade. They normally get a rush of people volunteering.

So a big fail for in this. I actually wonder if they may be in breach of contract.

Many more had taken to Facebook to express their frustration, one saying “How do you expect to get laid [without] privacy”, another commenting ‘If I wanted a bunk bed I would visit my six-year-old nephew”.


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