Published on November 5, 2013 | by Abi Ward0
Hall rents rise but student budgets stay the sameWith the steady increase of rent for student accommodations, students are struggling to find places to live. With many of UAL’s halls privately owned, the University has no say over the prices, leaving many students penniless and in some cases homeless. Abi Ward reports on the realities of student living.
Big rent increases at UAL halls are making life difficult for students already struggling with the cost of living in London.
In 2011, a standard single room in Furzedown Student Village halls in Tooting, which is located in zone three, was £83 per week.
After they were completely refurbished and reopened again the following year, the rent of the cheapest room increased to £130 per week – a 57 per cent rise.
Shelly Asquith, president of UAL’s Students’ Union (SUARTS) said: “During that period the university sold the buildings to a private company. We used to own them and therefore set the rent prices, now it is out of our control and incredibly expensive.”
Jake Hughes, a student at LCC, lived in the refurbished Furzedown Student Village halls last year and thinks the new rent levels are too high.
Hughes said: “They are a complete waste of money, I had a room the year before last in the CSM halls [Will Wyatt Court] in Old Street and I was paying £165 per week.”
“The University does not have control over the rents because most of the halls are owned by private companies” – Shelly Asquith
Will Wyatt Court has since increased by another £10 per week for a standard room. “You can get more for your money in private accommodation. “ Hughes argues.
Ellie McKenna is another student from LCC who stayed in halls for two years: “They’re ridiculously overpriced. I stayed in Julian Markham in the first year which was £150 per week and Will Wyatt court last year. I just thought that they were practically the same as my friends’ halls studying elsewhere, yet I’m paying three times as much for nothing extra bar the area. It seems so unjust.”
UAL Accommodation Services declined to comment on the rise in rent prices for UAL halls.
Hughes has been looking for private accommodation since his contract ended with Furzedown in the summer of this year and up until now, has had no luck.
He juggles his time going to viewings, trying to make it into University on time and figuring out whose floor he’ll be sleeping on that evening.
With a budget of around £450-£500 per month he refuses to pay the fees UAL halls are charging.
SUARTS president Asquith said: “Students are being ripped off; the uni doesn’t have control over the rents because most of the halls are owned by private companies.”
Rosie Black, the activities and volunteering officer for the SUARTS, explains: “Increased privatisation is creating a disadvantage,” and she says that if UAL does not have control over the rent then these private companies can charge whatever they like.
Asquith points out that when the maximum amount of their loan and grant only covers accommodation costs, how can students afford to live?
HomelessnessHughes is not the only one who has faced so many difficulties with accommodation.
Black explains that it is a sad reality that several UAL students have faced being homeless since September. She said: “Are we acting socially responsibly? We need to make the university understand.”
That is exactly what the SUARTS aim to do this year. “We are campaigning big on the increasing halls fees.” Asquith said.
From a personal perspective I was paying £119 per week, including bills for a standard single room in my first year whilst living in the Cordwainers Court halls in Hackney.
My friend stayed there last year and paid £130 per week and now they have increased again to £135 per week.
This year I pay less than £119 per week, not including bills for a double room, but with a private landlord.UAL hall prices increase while student budgets remain the same
Three of Queen Mary’s halls are priced at £116.76 per week for students this year. Albert Stern House, Ifor Evans Place and Stocks Court are all in Mile End.
Similarly to UAL, Queen Mary’s have a wide range of accommodation, however their prices seem to be more within the realms of a student budget.
If you want to know more about UAL’s halls situation or find out more about anything student related, check out the SUART’s website for further information at www.suarts.org.