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University agrees to phased rent rises

The University of St Andrews is to proceed with plans to increase student rents to bring accommodation charges into line with other UK universities – but has agreed to phase the price rise over three years to moderate its impact on the student pocket.

Meeting in St Andrews today (February 20th 2004) University Court agreed to increase rents to offset serious losses presently being made by university residences – but ordered a number of important concessions to student leaders who had opposed the planned rises.

To halt the losses and bring residences into a break-even position this year would have required an average rise in rents of 27%.

Instead, Court agreed a phased increase of 14.1% in 2004/05, 9% in 2005/06 and 7.9% in 2006/07.

Other concessions agreed by Court include :

· The provision of an annual accommodation allowance to every existing/returning student. This allowance recognises that existing students could not have foreseen or budgeted for rent increases when choosing to study at St Andrews. In 2004/05 it will range from £75 to £300 depending on accommodation type and circumstance and will increase each year up until 2007. · The retention of at least 500 beds – or approximately one-sixth of the university’s residences complement – at low cost to ensure continued provision for those who need it. Rents in this sector will be in line with the lowest cost rentals available within other UK universities, at a weekly rental of £45 & £47. · A commitment to retain residences in university ownership and management for at least 20 years. · The provision of £100,000 to a scholarship fund in keeping with the university’s objectives of widening access.

The costs of university-provided student accommodation in St Andrews have been amongst the lowest in the UK for many years and are presently heavily subsidised by the university.

Artificially low rents mean that University of St Andrews residences currently make a loss of £550,000 per year on direct costs alone – a major and unsustainable deficit covered by funds taken from teaching and research.

Derek Watson, University of St Andrews Director of Finance, said : “The present situation was not sustainable. It is our strong belief that it is unfair to students and unfair to staff to continue to take money away from teaching and research resources to subsidise student rents.

“It is very important to stress that the measures agreed by Court today do not seek to make a profit from students and do not raise average rents above the level payable in the private sector.

“We have listened to the strong arguments made by student leaders and we understand their opposition to rent increases.

“The concessions agreed by Court today will moderate the effect of these increases on the student pocket but still allow us to address the serious issue of the ongoing losses suffered by our residences.

“In keeping with our policy of openness and transparency, it is our plan to publish detailed figures on the effects of the phased increases as soon as possible and to make these fully available to all students.”

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

The University of St Andrews owns and operates a large residential system comprising over 3000 beds in order that students can be assured of having safe and comfortable accommodation, at least in their first year.

This longstanding tradition of guaranteeing all first year students a place in university accommodation is cited as a significant contributor towards the university’s strong sense of community and the very low drop out rate which it constantly delivers.

In recent years, statutory standards including regulations for multiple occupation tenancies have increased the burdens on universities with regard to standards of maintenance and fire prevention safeguards. These requirements have added considerably to costs.

In an environment which is becoming increasingly difficult it is essential that if the university is to continue to operate a large residential system, it does so from a financially sustainable baseline.

Issued by the University of St Andrews. Contact : Niall Scott, tel 01382 562881, mobile 07711 223062

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