As UoL students we are secretly thankful that we don’t have to cope with London’s high prices. We are often heard saying with a mix of horror and relief, “In London they have to pay £5 a pint! What a rip off!” While our beer may be priced below the national average, our university halls are certainly not. Here at the University of Liverpool, our student accommodation is “the most expensive of all Russell Group Universities outside of London” (The Times). To combat this, The Guild have launched Cut the Rent, a campaign to make a real, lasting change to the costs of University Accommodation.

Why is our student accommodation priced so highly? How have we accepted being charged rent that is so out of kilter with the market value in Liverpool? After years of constantly rising housing fees, The Guild are calling for the University to cut the rent once and for all. The campaign aims to:

  • Make a real, lasting cut to the rent in University Accommodation.
  • Establish a clear, transparent rent-setting process with maximum student representation.
  • Introduce an accommodation strategy that puts impact on living standards and equality at its heart.

For 2018, the average cost per week for halls at UoL is £157. Assuming a student receives the UK average maintenance loan of £138p/w (Save the student), a first year undergraduate at our university spends a shocking 113% of their income on halls. Considering that the Housing Charity, Shelter class ‘affordable’ rent as 38% of income, this cost is extortionate.

This is not a University wide problem. At Leeds University, their cheapest room is £1500 less than ours per annum, while at Sussex they have cut rents on new student halls to maintain a range of affordable housing. Warwick are ahead of the game, they have a designated rent-setting committee with student representation. But the University of Liverpool has made no similar strides.

The University of Liverpool has the 2nd most expensive halls (excluding Oxbridge). Source: The Times

Widening access to education?

The Guild is very concerned that this ever increasing cost will make our halls and, by extension, our University, inaccessible to students from lower income families. Such high prices put undue pressure on students, many of whom are pushed into excessive part-time work patterns in order to make the rent. Save the student say that 44% of students struggle to keep up with rent payments, while 45% of the respondents stated that their mental health suffered as a result.

The University of Liverpool proudly say on their website that “The University of Liverpool has a strong track record in widening access to higher education.” However their choices to consistently increase the cost of rent, do not reflect this. Particularly when we remember that the University does not offer a specific bursary to help with the costs of accommodation.

Rent set to rise (again!) for 2019

To make matters worse, the upcoming closure of Carnatic Halls will remove one of the more ‘affordable’ accommodation options from students for 2019. Next year students can expect to pay anywhere from £138.46 (single room at Melville Grove) to £213.22 (catered premier double room at Vine Court).

Since opening in 2017, the revamped Greenbank Student Village is already on track for price rise. Greenbank is set to cost a staggering £170p/w in 2019, and this is before we factor in the cost of transport to and from campus. This doesn’t fill us with confidence that the new build behind it will replace Carnatic in terms of cost (or atmosphere!)

Think this doesn’t affect you if you live in private halls? It seems plausible that the artificially high prices of university accommodation could lead to inflation in the private housing market, meaning that you may pay more! Anecdotally, many second year students pay between £75 and £85 to live in houses around Smithdown Road, significantly lower than what they paid during first year.

To see the full list of 2019 prices, follow this link: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/media/livacuk/accommodation/documents/UG,Fees,Location,Chart,2019.pdf

How can YOU get involved?

The University of Liverpool made a total of £44million surplus in 2016/17. So there’s no question that they can afford to cut the rent. All they need is little encouragement from the student body.

To help future students pay a fair and reasonable price for their first year halls please get involved with the campaign.

From the comfort of your home you can sign and share this petition to tell our University Cut the Rent! Every signature makes it harder for The Guild’s campaign to be ignored.

Follow this link to sign the petition: https://www.liverpoolguild.org/cuttherent

Every two weeks Cut the Rent events are free for you to attend. The next meeting is on 24th October in Flexible Seminar Room 1 in Teachin Hub 502 next to The Guild.  Be there at 6.30pm.

If you can’t make that event, or simply can’t get enough rent related rants, then there is a second meeting on 6th November at 6pm. It addresses the very valid question – Why is My Rent So High? This is a panel discussion with Eva Crossan-Jory NUS Vice-President Welfare, Andrew McGettigan – author of The Great University Gamble and Thomas Hale – Financial Times Journalist.

Cut the Rent needs your support and is looking for student volunteers to come leafleting on campus. To get involved with this contact: guildpres@liverpool.ac.uk

Let’s Cut the Rent and make our University accommodation reflect Liverpool’s beer prices, we’re not in London after all!