The students’ union will launch a campaign on what they call “ever growing” rent costs. The SU claim the university made a profit per head of over £1,200 from campus accommodation last year.
However, a spokesperson for UEA said: “The university is not-for profit, but does need to generate surpluses in order to reinvest in maintaining and improving our facilities.”
The union suggested between 2016-17 the university made an overall profit of £5.8m, which they claim is £1.3m more than the university projected.
An SU spokesperson said: “It’s now clear that if the university had frozen rent for this year they would still be on track to make their budgeted increase in profit. [Sic] Few students would know or believe that the surplus per student made out of halls on campus is £1,200- and as such that is hidden.”
UEA disagree that there are ‘hidden costs’ to campus accommodation, as rental fees are published.
A spokesperson added: “Last year the University worked closely with the sabbatical officers to reduce the planned rent increases to 3 percent for 2017/18 and that reduced rate is also the proposed increase for 2018/19.”
The SU will ask UEA to freeze rent at 17/18 levels for the next academic year.
SU Campaigns and Democracy Officer Jack Robinson said: “The cost of rent on campus is basically a cartel which has seen profits skyrocket to over £1k per student. Not only is this unaffordable, but it’s helping to hike up the cost of private accommodation in the City.
“We’ve ended up in a situation where the student funding package barely covers accommodation, but a surplus from it is bankrolling the Uni’s budget.”
The SU hope this will lead to a reduction in costs. However, UEA have defended the price of accommodation on campus, and are encouraging more large-scale private options in Norwich.
A spokesperson explained: “Over the past three years UEA has directly invested £41.2 million in building new on-campus student accommodation. [Sic] Having increased on-campus bedrooms by 746 over the past three years, the University continues to plan for more on-campus accommodation (c 500 beds) on land next to Barton House and Hickling House, to be developed and run by a private provider.”
University accommodation presently ranges from £53-153 per week.