Student hall fees double in a decade

The cost of living in student halls has doubled in a decade and is threatening to price some students out of a university education.

Students in halls are paying an average £117 a week in rent this academic year – compared with £59 in 2002 – according to figures from the National Union of Students.

The figures also show that private companies letting halls of residence often charge the highest rents, averaging £140 a week, but the amounts can vary between cities and universities.

Students in London pay the most, with the most expensive flats costing around £415 a week.

With average rents taking up most of the £5,000 a year student loan, undergraduates have to budget carefully to pay for books food, travel and entertainment. The NUS fears that rising rents will price many students out of higher education.

The NUS report, drafted with the help of student housing group Unipol, explained the funding shortfall was met through financial contributions from family, working part-time, savings and bursaries for many students.

A huge hike in annual tuition fees this year from £3,000 to £9,000 has stressed student finances even more.

Pete Mercer, NUS vice-president, 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 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.”

The findings showed rents had surged upwards by 25% in the last three years, despite the country’s economic problems.

Martin Blakey, chief executive of Unipol, said: “Costs of private sector accommodation and educationally provided accommodation have moved much closer together over the last three years.

“It is important for universities and colleges to acknowledge the vital role they have to play in enhancing access and the student experience by providing distinctive and affordable accommodation for their students within a not for profit framework.”

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