Soaring college accommodation costs anger Students’ Union

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Durham Students’ Union has expressed their anger over next year’s accommodation costs set by the University last week.

Residential charges will skyrocket next year, with catered accommodation set to rise by almost 8.5% for freshers and finalists.

Those in catered ensuite rooms will see costs increase by almost 9%.

Laura Carter, the Students’ Union Community Officer, told Palatinate: “We are very disappointed with the increase in undergraduate residence charges.

“We urged the University to keep the prices as low as possible. We have asked the University to explain why their prices are increasing far in excess of the UK rate of inflation.

“The report includes an increase in the budget for repair and maintenance. We have requested a detailed plan for how the repair and maintenance charge will be spent.

“We advised the University that we wanted the accommodation pricing structure to be transparent and explained clearly to students, with a breakdown in where the money goes.

“Whilst we acknowledge that the University has provided more information on the cost base than in previous years, we believe it must do more to explain and justify the price increase.”

The main factor behind the soar is a 12% rise in the estimated food and utilities bill.

Staff costs will increase by 4.5%, while repair and maintenance costs will grow by 5%.

The University wants to increase spending on repair, maintenance, capital and borrowing “in order to accelerate the scale of repair and maintenance and the rate of refurbishment of rooms.”

A standard room for freshers and graduating students will cost £6,819 up from £6,289 this academic year.  An ensuite room will cost £7,104, almost £600 more than this year.

The last two years have seen a 5.6% rise in the cost of catered accommodation. In 2012/13, catered accommodation for freshers and graduating students was £5,673 rising to £5,995 the next year.

Prices for postgraduates and others will be released by the end of December.

An email sent to students defended the measures: “Living in College, with no further bills to pay (e.g. insurance, utility or internet), supported by College Officers, and with numerous social facilities on site, represent value for money.

“We anticipate high demand from returners wishing to reside in their College.”

Photograph: Emma Werner

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