WELSH language campaigners have said that Aberystwyth University’s “broken promise” to re-open an historic halls of residence by September next year will harm the institution’s ability to attract Welsh language students.
Cambrian News reported “The £12m refurbishment of Pantycelyn has been delayed by a year due to the “challenges of redeveloping” the building – with the opening pushed back from September next year to September 2020.
The multi-million pound plan was developed in the wake of large-scale protests over successive university plans to close the hall on Penglais Hill, which saw students occupy the building and go on hunger strike.
Jeff Smith of Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith said that it was “vitally important” that the building is re-opened on the original schedule.
“Pantycelyn Hall has been a focal point for the university’s Welsh community, and its impact over the years has been transformative,” Mr Smith said.
“The university has broken its promise to re-open the hall by 2019.
“This will be a further blow to the university’s ability to attract students.
“Many students have missed the opportunity to stay at Pantycelyn Hall so the sooner the work will be completed the better.
“They have already held a strong and worthy marketing campaign for reopening in 2019, which is now being misleading.
“We therefore require the university to accelerate the work and to re-open the student hall in 2019.”
The plans will see the halls, which were home to Prince Charles during his time at the university, transformed with 200 en-suite bedrooms, full catering provision and social spaces.
The university said it has “been working hard to deliver refurbishment of Pantycelyn within the intended timetable”, but that “it has become clear that the challenges of redeveloping this Grade II listed building mean the original aim of reopening the building in September 2019 is not achievable” here.