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Union President releases rent recommendations

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Photo: Stirling Student’s Union, Twitter

Union President Dave Keenan has announced proposals to create a new fund for students struggling with rent in a series of recommendations released this week.

The measures were part of the report on the Big Rent Survey, which was presented to the Rent Review Group on Monday by Keenan.

The recommendations called for the creation of an accommodation enhancement fund, similar to the discretionary fund created last year.

The main difference for this fund is that it will be means tested, aimed at helping the least affluent students. Students will apply for the new fund at the same time as applying for university accommodation.

The report states that the fund should be valued at £100k to £150k, in order to “help as many students as possible”.

If implemented, the fund would be paid directly to accommodation services to ensure that it is used only for rent.

The report also recommended that the university continue to freeze the rent prices on the older accommodations instituted last academic year, while “strongly encouraging” that it be expanded to all residences to prevent the creation of a “two tier system”.

The report says that the job of the Rent Review group is to “set rent that is fair for the university as a whole” but adds: “If the Rent Review Group fails to address the affordability of university accommodation, especially for the most disadvantaged students, then the group will fail in its mission.”

The report ended by acknowledging the constraints of the university, stating that more needs to be done at a national level to lobby the Scottish Government for rent controls.

Keenan said in a blog post on the Stirling Students’ Union website on Tuesday that if these measures are enacted by the university, giving some students the maximum funding of £1,000, then it would make their accommodation some of the cheapest in the UK.

He also acknowledged that he has had to make some concessions to his originally held position on rent, which was to push for material rent reductions.

He added that he has made these concessions for the right reasons after realising “very quickly” after coming into the role that wholesale reductions would not be viable.

He said: “I said quite clearly during the election that accommodation is overpriced and that we need to make substantial rent reductions.

“I absolutely stand by what I said and I should be held to account on what I said during the election.

“Coming into the role, I realised very quickly that achieving the rent reductions I wanted to see was not only going to be incredibly difficult, but near enough impossible for financial reasons.”

Keenan added: “I had to prioritise who needs help most, and that is our most disadvantaged students.”

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