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New student halls review website launches in UK

A former international student from Australia has launched a TripAdvisor-style independent review website for private UK student accommodation after his own experience of a privately-operated halls of residence left him less than impressed.

Hallbookers.co.uk promises to bring accountability to private student accommodation providers in the UK.

“Hall providers previously have had little to no accountability, which has allowed some of them to get away with things, but Hallbookers will completely change this”

Launched nationwide this month, Hallbookers.co.uk lists every private hall in the UK servicing students, both domestic and international and it will be harnessing student opinion via support from Student Unions on campuses.

“Good quality and affordable student accommodation has fast become the exception rather than the rule”

The site was launched by 22-year-old Kristian Else, who was unimpressed by his accommodation offered by a market leader in London during his studies at the University of Westminster.

“Hallbookers.co.uk connects students together so they can avoid being swayed by glossy marketing material, and can make an informed holistic decision to get the best accommodation and avoid the worst,” Else explained.

“Hall providers previously have had little to no accountability, which has allowed some of them to get away with things, but Hallbookers will completely change this.”

The site, which is run by Else along with two other students, has collaborated with 20 student unions which report being aware of problems with some private halls.

Else, who recently graduated, has also attracted an investor and is now aiming to build up awareness of the site by working with more student unions and via other mediums.

The supporting unions are encouraging their students to review their accommodation in order to produce a comprehensive guide to the nation’s best and worst halls.

“Good quality and affordable student accommodation has fast become the exception rather than the rule,” commented Sebastian Debrouwere, President of Kings College Student Union.

In fact, half of the students surveyed by the National Union of Students in their Homes fit for study survey said they felt their accommodation was not good value for money.

Rima Amin, president of City University London Students’ Union, said the site “encourages student accommodation providers to develop their services”.

“Hallbookers offers this platform for students to voice their experience and guide others,” commented Amin, who is leading a campaign for compensation from Pure Student Living because of the “unacceptable conditions” at one of their sites.

“There are halls that have exhibited extremely poor standards and behaviours and it’s important that these experiences are made public,” she added.

Else said that he hopes HallBookers evolves to give all students the opportunity via the platform – which will provide enough independent information – to “be assured of a quality booking”.

He added that in due course, booking functionality may be added to the site.

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