Durham University students to protest against accommodation fees

Durham students are calling for a freeze on accommodation costs after being hit with a 20 per cent hike over the past three years

February 21, 2015

As many as 200 students are expected by organisers to turn up to protest against the soaring prices at the Bill Bryson Library on 23 February.

The university recently sent an email to students explaining that college accommodation fees would increase by 8 per cent for the 2015-16 academic year.

A breakdown of the costs revealed that one third of accommodation revenue covers capital and borrowing expenditure.

In December the students’ union launched a petition against the cost hike calling for the university to reconsider, but the petition has since been removed from its website.

Now student group Durham Students for University Reform and other societies have organised a “day of action”.

DSUR said that the extent of the price rise caused “general shock” at the university and argued that rising college costs allow local landlords to raise student rents.

The group are calling for the university to freeze accommodation costs, offer greater transparency and involve more students in governance.

Harry Cross, co-chair of DSUR and an undergraduate student at the institution, said: “Rising accommodation fees create a two-tier university experience determined by a student’s ability to afford living in college.

“Durham University counts on the apathy of its students to force through unpopular decisions. This protest will demonstrate that Durham students refuse to be seen as apathetic and are willing to organise and oppose rising costs of living.”

The cost of a standard room for 38 weeks with catering in one of Durham’s colleges in the 2015-16 academic year will be £6,819, up from £6,289 in 2014-15 and £5,673 in 2012-13. This is higher than the cost of accommodation at nearby Newcastle University and the University of York.

Graham Towl, pro vice-chancellor and deputy warden at Durham, has said that students “benefit from a college experience at halls of residence prices”.

holly.else@tesglobal.com

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