Okay, so the title of this post is a little misleading. I wasn’t on the course clearing team. I actually spent the last few days working the accommodation clearing hotline. It’s like the main clearing hotline, but a bit less stressful. I was on hand over the last few days, helping students find the room they wanted. Here’s just an idea of what I got up to on the other end of the phone.
Whilst most people picture the clearing hotline being a huge call centre with a phone going off every 2 seconds, you actually spend just as much time answering email queries. A lot of people (myself included) would much rather email in to get our answers, for fear that you actually have to talk to someone. Don’t worry, we’re just as worried as you are about saying the right thing on the phone. I did have a few calls come through where I felt my mind go blank for a few seconds, just because I’d said the same greeting that many times!
Most of the queries we received over the phone was to do with our ensuite availability. I did wake up from a nap a few days ago saying to myself “Unfortunately, we do not have any more ensuites available in Opal Court!” A lot of people seem to forget that ensuites are usually in high demand, especially those at the lower end of the price scale. While we try to help everyone out, sometimes we just can’t offer everyone exactly what they want.
What did become frustrating at times, was some applicant’s insistence on an ensuite room and required that it be the lowest price possible. We completely understand that it can be difficult to pay your accommodation fees and be able to feed yourself. Majority of those you speak to in Clearing are students, who have all been there before. Including myself! But when we offer you something more within your price range and explain that you would only share a bathroom with 2/3 people AND the bathroom would be cleaned for you weekly, and yet still you insist there is no other option but a cheaper ensuite (even though we told you there aren’t any available!).
What always makes the situation even better, is when you can hear a dad through the other end of the phone say “Put me on, give it to me.” Bring on the reinforcements.
When the parent comes on the phone, it’s usually because they want to make sure that their son/daughter gets what they want. Again, we completely understand. We want what’s best for the students. But when we’re told we should ‘flag up’ the application and make it a priority, we have to remind parents that we can’t prioritise any application. What’s more, I couldn’t even ‘flag up’ any application myself, as it went straight to our allocation team.
As much as I complain, there’s always the success stories when it comes to accommodation clearing. I did have a caller who’d received an offer for a Single Bedroom with a Washbasin in City Living Accommodation and wanted to move to Oadby Student Village. I was able to quickly confirm that we did have some available, and within 10 minutes their new offer was sorted. Other times, some people just wanted to talk to someone about their offer so they understood it better ie room size, location, community.
The best part? The team got free pizza for all our hard work! Definitely worth doing it next year just for the free pizza.