The University of Bristol received 116 complaints about student noise in 2017-18, the academic year just finished. That’s a massive 52% increase from 76 a year earlier – vindicating residents who say the noise problem is the worst they’ve ever known.
These 116 complaints covered only general noise, such as students shouting in the street or creating domestic noise that disturbed near-neighbours.
Student parties, tallied separately, accounted for a further 102 complaints, up 24% from 82 in the previous academic year. This is despite changes the university made at the start of the year to try to stem the rising trend of parties.
Complaints about waste and recycling problems dropped 33% to 47 from 70 a year earlier – a “win” for the university that helped flatter the headline numbers. The total of all complaints for the year was 258, a less-alarming 12% increase from 230 the previous year.
The complaints statistics were revealed by Joni Lloyd, the university’s community liaison officer (CLO), at a meeting with residents groups on July 10. A full record of the meeting is available here.
Other noteworthy numbers:
The total number of students involved in the 258 cases was 1,776, a jump of 29% from 1,374 a year earlier
In a geographical breakdown, top spot for complaints went to “Redland”, with 134, slightly more than half of the total. “Clifton” was a distant second with 61 and “Cotham” came third with 27. The precise boundaries used are unclear
Redland was also the hotspot for student parties, with 60 – twice as many as Clifton and Cotham combined (15 and 14 respectively)
Almost two-thirds of complaints were dealt with by email or a home visit. Joni Lloyd, the CLO, called in 76 student households for disciplinary meetings. That was a big jump (more than double) from the previous year, and Joni has confirmed by email that most of these 76 cases related to parties. This reflects the university’s stated intention at the start of the year to put more focus on tackling parties. A further 12 cases, two of which were parties, were escalated to hearings with the Head of Student Residential Life
Both the CLO and the HSRL have power to fine “up to £100” per household member. Making this power available to the CLO was seen by the university as a significant initiative for 2017-18. But the report reveals that the power was used only 19 times by the CLO (all of them parties); the HSRL levied fines on a further two cases involving parties
This means that out of a total tally of 102 parties, only a fifth (21) received a fine
Joni Lloyd says the current approach has been successful to the extent that it has reduced the incidence of second parties. Only two households who had already been disciplined subsequently held a second party (those were the two cases that went to the HSRL)
Zero complaints were considered serious enough to warrant escalation to higher levels of the disciplinary process, namely a hearing with the Director of Residential and Hospitality Services, or at the top level, the Pro Vice-Chancellor
Joni Lloyd stated that the university had decided to increase the “up to £100” fine to a higher figure for 2018-19, though as of the date of the meeting a figure had yet to be decided. In an email, she later clarified that fines will rise in increments from the new starting level, through the HSRL and Director levels. The Pro Vice-Chancellor already has power to fine up to £800.