Embattled Jarvis promises it will not evict students from its halls

July 9, 2004

Campus accommodation provider Jarvis said this week that its financial crisis will not affect students living in halls of residence that it built and manages, writes Alan Thomson.

Jarvis has invested £455 million in university accommodation. Its share value has plunged since last week, and its debt levels have soared since April. Its fate is now in the hands of its bankers, who are due to make an announcement at the end of the month.

A spokesman for Jarvis said: "People should not be worried that students will be turfed out. Students will be secure in their accommodation."

The company, a pioneer in public-private partnerships, specialises in providing services to education, including the construction of schools, as well as the health and transport sectors.

It operates university student accommodation at 14 different sites, offering 13,336 rooms with a further 5,662 under construction.

Many universities have taken advantage of the Jarvis University Partnerships Programme to build and operate their student halls, including Plymouth, Nottingham Trent, Reading and Lancaster.

Typically, the costs of new buildings are borne by commercial investors, of which Jarvis is one. Jarvis then manages the accommodation in return for a share of students' rent.

Martin Berkien, director of learning facilities at Plymouth University, said: "Of course we are concerned about the position of the main company, but the arrangements we have put in place are sufficiently robust to cope with any eventuality."

Lancaster University is working with Jarvis UPP on a £120 million deal to build and maintain 3,405 new and replacement rooms.

A Lancaster spokeswoman said: "The university is assured that the recent share price announcement does not affect the work with the university."

Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor, has written to Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, asking whether contingency plans are in place if Jarvis goes bankrupt.

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