Concrete can today report that the university plans to increase the rent students pay for campus accommodation, despite objections raised by the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS) and concerns expressed about an alleged lack of consultation.
The fee rise will see rents go up by an average of around £16 per month, or £156 a year – an average rent increase of 4.2% on 2013-14. Students in En Suite accomodation such as Britten House, Colman House, Constable Terrace, Kett House, Nelson Court and Paston House face the biggest rise at £340 per year (a 7.5% increase on 2013-14) while students in Mary Chapman Court will face the lowest fee rise with rents remaining the same as in 2013-14. See the table below for full breakdown by residence.
Although the university argues that the rent increase is needed for “essential maintenance, refurbishment and utilities costs” student union officers have opposed the increase, pointing out that that the expected £1m profit raised from the rent increase will go into “general university funds” and not specifically into any accommodation investment. Union officers argue that the fee rise is wrong while student support grants are being cut, and say that “there is material risk that the university will distort pricing across Norwich, increase student financial problems and destroy Norwich’s reputation as a cheap student city”.
Rosie Rawle, Communications Officer at UUEAS, said: “With £9,000 tuition fees, cuts to maintenance grants and possibly to disability allowances, pulling more money out of students’ pockets is unacceptable and clearly contradicts the university’s aim of widening access”.
A UEA spokesperson told Concrete: “The University of East Anglia has a varied portfolio of residential accommodation and rents which compare very favourably against other similar universities. The rationale for the range of rent increases was shared with Union of UEA students in the usual way”.
Concrete can also report that the university did not consult the student union about the rent increases, but instead chose to announce their decision to student representatives at a confidential meeting. One union officer told Concrete that the rent increase figures provided at this confidential meeting by the university were “incomplete” and that the university failed to provide the students’ union with any detailed figures before publishing them on the UEA website.
UUEAS is an independent and democratically run charity that represents students within the University of East Anglia, campaigns on behalf of students and provides services such as the Shop and the Hive. The rent increases announced by the management of the university will apply to students living in rented accommodation as of September 2014.