The price of student halls has doubled since 2002


Alastair Thomas

Students attending the University in September will be paying £113 a week (£480 a month) to stay in Murano Street Student Village or Cairncross House. This is now double the price of the halls from 2002, when a single room cost £56 a week.

The price of the University of Glasgow’s student halls has been rising consistently at twice the rate of UK inflation. Since 2002, students staying at the two halls are paying 101-113% more rent, far higher than national inflation, which has only increased by approximately 47% in 14 years.

Students in Murano Street and Cairncross House are now paying £2,200 more each year (totalling £4,400) than in 2002 when the University sold most of its student accommodation to Sanctuary Housing, a private letting agency, which operates under the name ‘Glasgow Student Village ldt.’ (GSV). It is understood that Sanctuary Housing is contracted to receive profits from all student rents at GSV until 2035.

The student halls were sold to Sanctuary Housing in a controversial move intended to pay off over £30million in debts accumulated by the University Accommodation Office. Over 1300 students petitioned the University not to sell off the halls amidst concerns the move would see “higher rents” and “unacceptable cost-cutting in the provision of services”. Addressing these concerns, the University promised to ensure that rent controls would be put in place.

However, the agreement drawn up between the University and Sanctuary Housing ensured a minimum 0.5% yearly increase on rents on top of UK interest rate increases.

Wolfson Hall, on the Garscube Sport Complex, is not owned by Sanctuary Housing, remaining under the control of the University. Students at Wolfson have seen rents rise at a higher rate than any other halls of residence, with a rooms now costing £6,290 per annum compared to £2,645 in 2002/3, an increase of 138%.

The Glasgow Guardian asked the University whether it thought the yearly rent increases were acceptable. A spokesperson from the University’s Residential Services said: “Those student residences that are part of the Glasgow Student Villages portfolio are not run for profit and any surplus which may arise is invested back into the fabric and services of the building. Since 2002 the halls have been part of an on-going refurbishment plan, with an investment of over £16 million provided to date to improve the whole infrastructure, including kitchens and bedrooms. Other improvements have included better broadband provision and site wide Wi-Fi services along with necessary changes to ensure the halls continue to meet fire regulations.

“With this in mind, any attempt to cap fees could lead to sacrificing future services and the upkeep of the buildings, which would not benefit our students.”

Liam King, president of Glasgow University’s Student Representative Council, said: “No reasonable person can think that a 32-year deal which forces rents to go up regardless of context or circumstance is a good deal.”

He continued: “GSV has never been a good deal for students and it has long since stopped being a good deal for the University. The rent increases of recent years are repugnant and it’s about time GSV’s perpetual intransigence ends.”

Sanctuary Housing refused to comment when approached by The Glasgow Guardian.

The company is in control of Murano Street Student Village, Cairncross House, Kelvinhaugh Gate, Kelvinhaugh Street, Winton Drive and Queen Margaret Halls.

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