A report from 2010 in the Guardian highlighting the prices of single rooms in student halls and their increasingly ill-effect on student debt noted that the University of Glasgow’s single room price range was £87.15-£131.39 per week at that time. These figures were confirmed by the University’s accomodation service. This range has risen dramatically since the publication of that article and in 2014 sits at 106.54-£168.49 per week.
Glasgow has therefore seen a £19.39 per week increase on the cheapest single room in it’s halls, over the course of the contract this increase makes the single rooms £756 more expensive than in 2010.
In comparison Edinburgh University have actually begun to offer a cheaper single room for postgraduates than in 2010 with a reduction over the same period of 21 pence a week, or £8.19 over the contract period and there are undergraduate rooms available for only £3.92 or £152.88 more than their counterparts in 2010. This means Edinburgh now offer many single room options which are over £20 a week cheaper than options here at Glasgow. Similarly The cheapest shared University of Glasgow accommodation rooms are now more expensive than many of their single counterparts at Edinburgh and those who share in Edinburgh can save over £30 a week when compared to those who share here at the University of Glasgow.
Property company Zoopla estimates the current average cost of a privately-let room in Glasgow is £325 per month (£75.83 a week). Zoopla also found in 2013 that Glasgow was the location with the biggest profit margin in the UK for buying property and then letting to students.
When asked if they thought that the University’s halls prices were competitive and if they were concerned by the potential for adverse affects on student wellbeing as well as the ability of less privileged students to attend the University, A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: “The University of Glasgow firmly believes that all University Accommodation offers excellent value as well as a safe and welcoming environment. We offer all residents access to competitively-priced, high-quality and secure accommodation which is conveniently located around the city.
“In order to ensure that all of our students have access to flexible accommodation options that work for them, we offer access to a wide variety of pricing structures and the shortest contract lengths out of any university or private provider of student accommodation in the city.
“We also offer financial support packages for students who may find themselves in financial hardship.”
As the spokesperson for the University suggests there are a number of benefits to staying in halls and in order to give students the tools to make a fair comparison the Glasgow Guardian has attempted to put a value on these benefits which include Gym membership, insurance, electricity, gas and internet.
Gym membership at Glasgow is worth £60 annually to students, available at any time from the university gym. The free insurance covers £7000 worth of belongings through Endsleigh, with this coverage normally costing £60 on Endsleigh’s website. The company who provide internet services in halls are not a traditional internet service provider for private persons, but faster internet speeds in addition to a phone line can be purchased for as little as £4 a month from Talk Talk. Electricity and Gas costs naturally vary, however the University in it’s “Living in Glasgow – how much does it cost?” webpage for international students estimates the amount a student would need to budget for Electricity and Gas as “at least £340 a year”. If this figure is reliable, these estimates of value together add up to around £500 of potential savings in living expenses over the nine months of halls residence, which is not guaranteed to be found in private accommodations. However the letting contract will cost the individual £135 per month more in rent than the average private room in Glasgow.
These costs, when compared with maximum SAAS loan amounts, could eat up a very substantial percentage of a student’s loan, and cases for concern have come to the Glasgow Guardian’s attention.
A student who had resorted to sleeping in a tent contacted the Glasgow Guardian after having to leave halls of residence because of his inability to afford them. He was dealing with other important expenditures at the time and was then unable to continue at University. He claimed that prior to accepting the halls contract he had no knowledge that his halls debt would be counted as academic debt. His outstanding debt was less than the amount by which halls prices have increased in the last four years.
In addition, claims about the quality of the halls made by the university spokesperson seem to conflict with numerous instances of quality issues and student complaints reported in the Glasgow Guardian.
In August 2013, The Glasgow Guardian reported that the Glasgow City Council had initially refused to renew the HMO licences for Murano Street Student Village over 16 problems with the safety of the accomodation. In Febuary of this year, we carried a report on several problems being ignored by management in QM Halls, and in this very issue the reader can find an article about problems with overflow accomodation used last year.
If you are experiencing difficulty with affording accommodation and think you might need financial aid you can find information about funding at www.gla.ac.uk/services/registry/support/finance/funds .
At the time of first printing this article included the factually incorrect statement that the cost of the cheapest single room in Glasgow University halls was 50% more expensive now than in 2010, a rise of £36.15 a week, the actual figure as stated in this article is 18%, a rise of £19.39. The Glasgow Guardian apologises for this inaccuracy.