University takes action to address rent losses
The University of St Andrews Court is to consider a recommendation from its Planning and Resources Committee to increase students rents by an average of 27% from September 2004 to bring accommodation charges into line with other UK universities.
The costs of university-provided student accommodation in St Andrews have been heavily subsidised by the university for several years and remain amongst the lowest in the UK.
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 presently covered by monies taken from teaching and research.
If approved by Court, the proposal will mean the average weekly rent of student accommodation in St Andrews rises from £75 to £98.
University rental is inclusive of heat, light, power, phone rental and high speed internet access.
The university will maintain at least 500 beds – or approximately one-sixth of its 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.
The proposal will not make a profit for the university but will eventually return the St Andrews residences system to a break-even position.
The university considered a number of options to address the residences deficit, including a proposal to transfer management of the residences to a private sector third party – an option already adopted by several other UK higher education establishments.
Following discussions with student representatives however, the university has agreed not to pursue this option and to give a guarantee that student residences will remain in the management of the university for a minimum period of 20 years.
Derek Watson, University of St Andrews Director of Finance, said : “The present situation is not sustainable. It is unfair to students and unfair to staff to continue to take money away from our teaching and research resources to subsidise rents which are artificially low.
“In looking for solutions we considered a number of options, including sub-leasing our residences to the private sector for a period of up to 30 years.
“Our students made strong and persuasive representations on this issue however and have pressed us to give a commitment that student residences will remain under direct University management for a similarly long period.
“It is also very important to stress that proposal does not seek to make a profit from our students and will not raise average rents above the level already payable in the private sector.
“The proposed increases will ensure the monies we receive for teaching and research are spent on teaching and research.”
The recommendations will be considered by University Court on February 20th 2004.
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.
The proposed increases will mean the average cost of self-catered accommodation will rise from £55 to £70. This is inclusive of heat, light, power, phone line rental, maintenance, insurance, high speed internet access and the support of the University’s wardennial system.
In catered residences, the average weekly rental will rise from £90 to £119. This includes all the benefits available to self-catered residents plus 19 meals per week – breakfast and lunch 7 days per week and an evening meal from Monday to Friday.
Issued by The University of St Andrews Contact : Niall Scott, tel 01334 462530, mob 07711 223062 Gayle Cook, tel 01334 467227Student experience