Credit: Rothery Sullivan

Exclusive: Glasgow student housing costs soar as University’s property income rockets

By Niamh Flanagan

The Glasgow Guardian has seen exclusive data obtained by the Scottish Green Party through a Freedom of Information request (FoI) which indicates exponential increases in student accommodation costs against a backdrop of £26.7mn income for the University in the 2022/23 academic year.  

The data indicates that the average cost of University accommodation has increased by 90% since 2012. Across the same time period, the rate of inflation sat at 38%. The average cost of a room per week in 2012 was £104.11, which has increased to £198.47 in the 2023/24 academic year. Average room price remained largely static between the 2019/2020 – 2021/2022 academic years, sitting between £170.13 – £171.88, however a large price increase occurred in the 2022/23 academic year, when the average price per week jumped to £181.64, increasing further to £198.47 for this academic year. From 2015/16 -2021/2022, average price increases for student rooms per week remained under 3%, with an exception of a 3.52% increase in the 2018/19 academic year. In 2022/23, there was a 6.77% increase, and this academic year, there has been a 9.26% increase. 

According to the same FoI request submitted by the Scottish Green Party, in the past year, the University of Glasgow earned £25mn annually from student housing – up by over 50% since 2011, when they earnt £17.4 million. In 2022/23, the University of Glasgow brought in £26,752,465 of property income, of which £24,462,488 was from term-time accommodation. 

The Scottish Green Party has criticised these price increases in the context of a cost of living crisis, and have warned that students are being used for “profiteering” purposes by the University. This comes ahead of the 7 March Hillhead council by-election, a seat being contested by the Greens who are hoping to win the first by-election in the party’s history. 

Seonad Hoy, Scottish Green Party candidate in the Hillhead by-election, said: “These above inflation increases to student accommodation are really concerning. Higher education should be accessible to everyone, without anyone having to work long hours while studying, or having to get into debt. 

“The University has a responsibility to provide affordable accommodation, which allows students to learn without financial stress.”

Hillhead Councillor Martha Wardrop, Glasgow Greens housing spokesperson, added: “We need to work with students to address the local housing crisis and take forward housing plans to ensure that students have access to safe and affordable accommodation which suits their needs. We can do more to encourage students to have a greater say in the council’s decision-making.”

A University spokesperson said: “Annual increases in rent for university-owned student accommodation have been below the rate of inflation for five consecutive years, these are always based on the national rate of information in October of each year.  Modest annual rent increases are essential to allow continued investment in maintenance and refurbishment of rooms. We anticipate a further, below-inflation increase in 2024.”


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