As we all know, university is no cheap adventure. Even if you don’t have to pay your tuition fees, university halls of residence do not appear to be helping students cut back on costs – particularly at Glasgow.
Murano Street Student Village is the cheapest option for students at Glasgow. However, compared to other UK universities, Glasgow still does not offer a truly affordable option for halls of residence. I stayed in Murano during my first year and still found it far too expensive. I’m a student who has to pay their own rent, and thus, opted for the cheapest halls available. However, it was still priced at £110.60 a week. Having since visited a number of other universities, I know there are far worse halls to be staying it; but for £442.40 a month, I was expecting more for the money I was paying.
The reality of living at Murano was a small room, with a desk, wardrobe, bookshelf, sink and a clearly worn-in bed, which left me with an empty bank account at the end of each month. Despite the costs, thanks to my flatmates and the ease of meeting new people, I enjoyed staying at Murano. Living in such a large village, which houses over a thousand students, makes it difficult not to meet people, especially with Murano’s rather social reputation.
Having since moved out of Murano, I now live in a comfortable West End flat, complete with more bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. Unlike my halls of residence, the flat even has areas to socialize for more than three people at a time. Even with all this, the rent is cheaper than Murano, even accounting for bills. This surely indicates a problem. Murano’s issues are plentiful, but this is not to say that I would have opted for another halls of residence at Glasgow. For example, the Queen Margaret halls are far more comfortable with en suite rooms and in a prime West End location, yet are priced even more prohibitively at £134.47 a week. The more basic Murano halls aren’t much less. This evidence very clearly suggests that there is a lack of affordable first year accommodation, which doesn’t make much sense when you can easily find cheaper accommodation elsewhere in the city. This is not a theme common to all British universities. Leeds University’s cheapest halls of residence will only set you back £88 a week for a room; Edinburgh’s Sciennes halls are £103.21 a week (even when you opt for a larger room); a room in Strathclyde’s James Blythe Court residences is £98 a week (not even their cheapest rooms) and Manchester University’s cheapest residence is Witworth Park at £96 a week. Although being a few pounds a week cheaper may not seem like a lot, it adds up over the months. For a student scraping the bottom of the barrel, every few pounds of saving makes a difference.
Of course, halls have their value. They offer students an ideal opportunity to meet people and make lifelong friends. This is an opportunity which should be available to all, but the extortionate price makes it a hard pill to swallow. Glasgow needs to supply students with truly affordable halls of residence, whether this is by reducing the prices of existing halls or the construction of a new “budget block”. The current system unfairly forces students to pay so much for so little, in order to attend a good university. Poorer students already have plenty of obstacles to navigate – extortionate rent doesn’t have to be one of them.