Cost of student digs has doubled in a decade

A standard student room. Pic: Andrew Tindall/Flickr

Students are paying twice as much for university accommodation than they were a decade ago according to a recent study.

The study by the National Union of Students and Unipol Student Homes found that the average cost for a room owned by a university, arranged for by an institution or owned by a private firm is now £123.96 a week.

This is 25 per cent higher than the average weekly rent in 2009/10 when it was £98.99, and double the cost in 2001/02 when rent averaged at £59.17 a week.

Pete Mercer, NUS vice-president for welfare, said: “Student rents have skyrocketed, leaving fewer reasonably-priced accommodation options for students from lower and middle-income backgrounds who are really feeling the pinch.”

The NUS also said that private accommodation costs were usually higher, with an average of £220 in some areas of the country.

A spokesperson for Unite, a private company and a large national provider of student halls, said: “our provision can be more expensive than university run accommodation because we are not subsidized. We often provide more in the package as well, including security.

“We are looking at costs, one of things we are looking at is building accommodation in cheaper areas of London such as Stratford.”

When asked whether Queen Mary, University of London, would be considering capping costs Barbara Ashcroft, Housing Services Manager said:  “We believe that our halls’ fees reflect both the quality and location of our residences, coupled with an excellent student support system. Fees for QM residences are in line with local private rented accommodation and are still considerably less than local privately built halls.

“Given the rising cost of private rented accommodation across the country and particularly in some areas of London. Queen Mary students have the advantage that there is still an abundance of affordable local private sector housing, particularly as a result of the post Olympic building boom.”

Mercer continued: “The responsibility of universities to support their students does not begin and end at the doors of the lecture hall.

“University heads should urgently be looking at properly planning accommodation supply and capping rent increases to ensure students are not priced out of living in halls.”

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