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Students halt hunger strike over hall closure.

A TWO.DAY hunger strike by Welsh-speaking students angry at plans to close Aberystwyth University's Welsh halls of residence has been postponed for 24 hours.

Last-ditch talks with university chiefs will now be taking place on Friday in a bid to resolve issues between the two sides.

A total of 37 students were planning to take part in the 48-hour protest which was designed to begin at 5pm today and run into the university open day on Saturday.

University chiefs plan to move students out of the Pantycelyn residence and into a new PS45m purpose-built student village at Penglais Farm.

The complex is due to open in September and will offer accommodation for 1,000 students.

But Undeb Myfyrwyr Cymraeg Aberystwyth (UMCA), the Welsh-language students' union, claims the new halls will harm the Welsh-speaking student community.

It has branded the new village as "completely unsuitable" and claims the closure of Pantycelyn would be a national tragedy.

"Students who had planned to go on a 48-hour hunger strike from tomorrow until Saturday have decided to postpone the hunger strike for one day, in order to meet with the university to discuss a positive development in the campaign," a UMCA spokesman said.

"Following a special request by the university, student representatives will meet senior university officials on Friday morning, postponing the hunger strike.

"Unless the meeting has a positive outcome, however, students are likely to go on hunger strike from Friday."

Mared Ifan, UMCA president, said: "This is a big step forward in our campaign, showing that the university is feeling the pressure.

"We look forward to our discussions with the university on Friday morning, and hope for an outcome that means Pantycelyn can remain open as halls of residence for Welsh speaking students".

The student complex will comprise two and three-storey buildings with flats for six to eight students.

A central "hub" will be home to an array of services from launderettes, bike stores and computing facilities.

The UMCA claims that the student village lacks an office for the union and has no canteen or rooms big enough for the well-established Welsh choir to practice in.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 3, 2014
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