Saudi Gazette report
MAKKAH — Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah has announced that it will close down its student hostel and evict 250 students by the beginning of next academic year, Al-Madina newspaper reported on Wednesday.
A parent said the decision of the university was so sudden and the students barely have time to find alternative accommodation.
“Students come from other governorates and villages and they decide to live in the student hostel as it is close to the university. Some of the students will even be graduating next year and cannot transfer to any branch campus of the university,” said the parent.
He said a number of parents approached the minister of education asking him to allow the final year students to continue their stay in the hostel.
“Many of the parents cannot leave their own villages and move to Makkah in order to have their daughters complete their education. They also cannot afford to rent a separate residence for their daughters to stay at,” said the parent.
He said many of the parents feel the pressure of either withdrawing their daughters from the university or moving to Makkah but both options are unfavorable to them.
“Some parents suggested that the university rents out a residence for its students and the parents are willing to pay part of the rent,” said the parent.
Umm Al-Qura University issued a statement denying that the decision to close the student hostel was abrupt. The university claims it has notified the students a year ago that the university might close down the hostel if it was not able to afford it.
Umm Al-Qura spokesman Adel Banaimah said the Kingdom has been working on expanding the resources for higher education for the past two decades.
“Tens of colleges and universities have opened in various areas of the Kingdom in order to solve the transportation problem for students. In turn, the Ministry of Finance cut the budgets for student accommodation. The university has been bearing the costs of accommodating the students for the past three years,” said Banaimah.
He said the university was no longer able to bear the cost of the hostel with its maintenance fees, water and electricity bills and security expenses.
“The university is not obliged to provide residence for its students. The university has negotiated with the landlord to extend the rent contract until the end of the academic year. It has also instructed all offices to facilitate the movement of the students as much as possible,” said Banaimah.