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NUS/Unipol survey shows affordable accommodation is dwindling

Tuesday 15 December 2015 Welfare and Student Rights

The NUS/Unipol Accommodation Costs Survey, published today, reveals that the supply of affordable accommodation is declining as students continue to face a cost of living crisis.

Over the last ten years purpose-built student accommodation has changed beyond recognition, with more affordable rooms disappearing from the market and being replaced by brand new studio accommodation. Rooms with their own private bathroom are now the norm, and more ‘traditional’ catered halls with shared bathrooms have reduced to a residual level.

Private providers are capitalising on the increasing demand for student accommodation and have grown by 42 per cent in the last year. Institutions still remain the largest supplier of accommodation, however they grew by only one per cent in the last year. If this trend continues the private sector will be the majority supplier by the time of the next survey in summer 2018.

The move away from affordable accommodation and towards more high-end rooms has seen an increase in the overall average weekly rent for purpose-built student accommodation stands at £146.73; this represents an 18.4 per cent increase since the last survey in 2012-13.

Whilst private providers are largely responsible for the increase in overall average rent prices, the research found that nearly half of universities did not have a policy on providing affordable accommodation and over half did not involve students at all in rent setting decisions.

Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President (Welfare) said: “Universities are systematically failing to provide affordable accommodation for their students, and have either invested in expensive new-builds or sold off old property to private developers.

“The market is hugely exploitative as many first year students expect to stay in halls of residence and often have no choice but to pay these sky-high rents or miss out completely

“High living costs, including the cost of accommodation, put students from working class backgrounds off attending university altogether. Institutions need to think carefully about how they will take responsibility for changing this and limiting Higher Education from becoming closed off to the rich.”

You can read the full report here.