Published on October 29, 2013 | by Ruby Sigurdardottir

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Students sleep-in to protest at ‘obscene’ hall rents

SUARTS President Shelly Asquith protests against the cost of private halls. [Alice Russell]

Daytime sleep-ins have been held at two UAL colleges to protest against the costs of student halls.

LCC and CSM students have brought blankets and pillows as the Students’ Union (SUARTS) staged an hour-long ‘sleep-in’ to highlight the issue.

The cost of UAL halls is now so high that some students have become homeless.

Currently, only five out of 12 student residences are managed or part-managed by UAL.

Culture and Diversity Officer Mostafa Rajaai said: “The privatisation of UAL accommodation has led to a ridiculous increase in the price that students have to pay.”

Rajaai also argued that student loan payments do not cover the cost of UAL halls: “You either need to be lucky enough to have parents that can support you, or have a part-time job which, if you really are dedicated to your studies, you can’t have.”

‘Obscene’

A member of staff at UAL housing services, who wished to remain anonymous, described the prices as “obscene”.

She said: “Many students come from families where parents have lost their jobs due to the recession and have no money. You may get the full loan, but it still doesn’t quite cover it. I can’t quite see how the private halls can justify the amount of rent they charge.

“If there were halls with less private involvement, then perhaps the cost could be refined,” she added.

The cheapest single rooms that the university offer are at the privately-owned Furzedown Student Village and cost £130 per week, totalling £5,460 for the academic year.

Private management

When these rooms were owned by UAL in 2011, they cost £83 per week. They are now owned by student accommodation company FindDigs.

FindDigs representative Marina Lazorina said that the price at Furzedown Student Village is justified because of the extensive renovation work that has been done under the new management.

She said: “The new landlord spent over £8 million on the residence which now offers en-suite rooms and studios. Staff and past residents are wowed by the changes.”

SUARTS president, Shelly Asquith, warns: “We certainly aren’t finished with the protests and campaigning.

“We’ll be out talking to students more before the end of term and targeting private companies and banks who are making huge profits out of students – as well as continuing to lobby the university.”

If you would like to take part in any of SUARTS’ future campaigns, please contact SU President Shelly Asquith at president@su.arts.ac.uk.

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