SEVERAL accommodation rents have been frozen for the next academic year following a rent deal achieved by the students’ union.
Alangrange, Donnelly, Fraser, Muirhead, Pendreich Way, Polwarth, and Spittal Hill are to have their rents frozen for the 2020/2021 academic year.
The deal has also seen additional money for the Accommodation Enhancement Fund, a fund designed to help students struggling to pay rent.
An additional £20,000 will be added to the fund, making it a total of £150,000. The maximum levels have been set at £1,200 for undergrads, £1,350 for nursing students, and £1,500 for postgraduate students.
VP Communities Josh Muirhead praised the deal saying:
“I am extremely thrilled we’ve managed to secure more than treble the amount of rooms frozen compared to last year, as well as the extra £20,000 to the Accommodation Enhancement Fund which no doubt will greatly improve so many students time here at University.”
There have also been a number of rent rises confirmed.
Alexander Court, Beech Court, Juniper Court, Willow Court, Friarscroft, John Forty’s Court, Union Street in Bridge of Allan and the Union Street Development will see rents increase by 4 per cent.
Centro House will have its rent increased by 2.5 per cent.
Andrew Stewart Hall, Thistle Chambers, and Lyon Crescent will see rents increased by 2 per cent.
The union’s Housing Officer, Cian Ireland also praised the deal but said that the rent rises show some limitations of the union.
“My line is the union did what it could and got some fantastic concessions in getting rent freezes on numerous properties that will benefit some of the poorer tenants of the university, however it shows the limits of the student union and the need to organise a tenant’s union to push for further concessions.”
The Tenant’s Union, led by Ireland, also issued a statement on the rent deal. They focused on the limitations of the rent deal stating that the price of rent in university accommodation is already unaffordable for students.
“Whilst there are more rent freezes as opposed to last year this does not take away from the fact that rent for university accommodation is already exceedingly high. The rent prices currently are leaving students with little to live off of.”
“Three of the accommodation blocks having rent freezes this year faced further rent increases last year.
“In 2019/20 Alangrange suffered a 3 per cent increase and HH Donnelly, Fraser of Allander and Muirhead house faced a 2.6 per cent increase. All of which is above inflation (1.80 per cent).
“By maintaining extortionate prices this shows that the university is not doing enough to make accommodation affordable for all. We obtained this information from an FOI we sent out last year.”
They welcomed some aspects of the deal, such as the increase to the Accommodation Enhancement Fund.
“We are pleased to see an increase in the accommodation enhancement fund as it is a great support for students however attention must be focused on lowering rent.
“We would also like to stress we believe the Student Union did the best they could in working to lower rents but it is time for the university to realise how much of an issue rent costs are for students.
“This is why we are pushing for student organising to take action if the university continues to fail us.”
Currently the cheapest accommodation for new undergraduates is Polwarth at £84 per week and the most expensive standard flat is Juniper Court and Willow Court at £158.97 per week.
A university spokesperson said: “The University is committed to working with the Students’ Union to ensure that students are able to access a wide range of high-quality, affordable accommodation.
“The Rent Review Group, which comprises representatives from across the university and the Students’ Union, unanimously agreed recommendations for rent proposals for the 2020/21 academic year and significantly increased the fund to support students experiencing financial hardship in relation to accommodation costs.”
More info on accommodation prices can be found on the university’s website.
Featured Image: Stuart Thomas Graham