University announces 2.9% accommodation fee increase

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Undergraduate accommodation fees will rise by 2.9% to £7,894 for the 2020/21 academic year, the University has announced in an email to students this morning.

The cost of a single standard catered room will increase from £7,672 to £7,894, while a catered en-suite will now cost £8,385. The average student loan is £6,108.

The average student loan is £6,108

Self-catered standard rooms will increase from £5,370 to £5,526, and self-catered en-suites from £5,846 to £6,016.

The University says that the price increase has been calculated via the Retail Price Index, a “standard rate of inflation”. Since 2011, typical accommodation costs have increased from under £5,000 to nearly £8,000.

The Durham Students’ Union has previously requested a freeze in undergraduate accommodation fees, and that the University uses the Consumer Price Index to calculate cost increases.

Kate McIntosh, DSU President, said to Palatinate: “People aren’t surprised anymore when accommodation fees rise – we don’t expect our university to put student concerns about high costs above profit margins.

But next year, for the umpteenth time, countless deserving students will choose not to come Durham because of the high fees, and countless more will fall ill, take on precarious work, or suffer academically trying to pay them.

It is not good enough, and we are going to do something about it. I’ve got the University to kick-start a review of accommodation fees, and this term we’re going to set out a better, fairer system.”

Just 12.4% of Durham students agree the institution offers good value for money

An investigation by Palatinate in 2018 found that just 12.4% of Durham students agree the institution offers good value for money overall.

In October 2019, the University said they don’t hold information on the percentage of accommodation fees that are spent on building refurbishments and improvements.

Durham University Labour Club (DULC) told Palatinate: “Though we do not know exactly what the fee revenue is being spent on, it is clearly not being spent on those members of staff who are employed for low pay, or who found themselves laid off by last year’s ‘Operations Review’.”

“What is needed at Durham is a rent freeze, and nothing less. DULC unequivocally opposes this bare-faced price gouging by the University.”

Jeremy Cook OBE (Pro-Vice Chancellor Colleges and Student Experience) told Palatinate: “these charges cover much more than just accommodation. As well as operating and maintaining residential facilities, fees fund dedicated staff and provide communal spaces for social events and wellbeing.

It is not good enough

Kate McIntosh, Durham Students’ Union President

“In the case of fully-catered Colleges, fees also provide students with 21 hot meals a week and subsidised College social, cultural, and recreational events.

“We know some of our students face real financial pressures and we offer a bursary scheme, known as the Durham Grant Scheme (DGS). The DGS is based on household income and is available to undergraduates – throughout their course – who are Home Students, studying their first degree.”

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2 thoughts on “University announces 2.9% accommodation fee increase

  • The communication to students of the increase was, in my view, both disingenuous and contemptuous of those to whom it was addressed.

    I refer specifically to the reference to RPI as “a standard rate of inflation”, and other references equating RPI to inflation.

    RPI has been disowned as a measure of inflation:

    – it is no longer used for inflation indexing of the state pension nor of the pensions of government employees
    – the Bank of England has ditched it as its measure for target inflation
    – NS&I (i.e. the Treasury) Index Linked Savings Certificates have also ditched RPI as the inflation measure and now use CPI (lower than RPI)
    – the Office for National Statistics states on its website that RPI does “not meet the standard for designation as National Statistics” and states that RPI only continues to be published because it is tied to long-term contracts (so not relevant in this case)

    Durham Uni may choose to increase accommodation charges in line with RPI. But to portray this as an inflation linked increase is disingenuous and an insult to the intelligence of those who pay the charges.

    Reply
  • “In October 2019, the University said they don’t hold information on the percentage of accommodation fees that are spent on building refurbishments and improvements”

    The University is obsessed with counting and allocating every single penny so I find it very hard to believe that this ^^ is the case.

    I simply don’t believe that the University is getting lots of money in from student rents and not keeping a close tab on how/where this is spent.

    The University regulates every single penny that academics are allowed to spend (even where this money has come from academics’ own grants, consultancy, or other work) and have cut the allowed spending to the absolute bare minimum. Are the University seriously expecting us to believe that they take this micro-management approach to individual academics’ finances but have no handle on the how hundreds of thousands pounds of student rents are being spent? Seriously?

    Reply

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