STUDENTS have been hit by rent rises in halls of residence as universities try to recoup income lost through capital-funding cuts, according to a new report.
The National Union of Students survey of accommodation costs 1996/97 reveals that hall rents increased by an average of 4.7 per cent between 1995/96 and 1996/97. The average private sector increase was 3.8 per cent.
Both are set against an average increase in student income of 2.6 per cent, meaning students are spending more of their income on accommodation.
Although most hall accommo- dation, unlike private accommodation, is inclusive of bills, many students were unhappy with the food and with ageing facilities and complained that halls were overpriced.
The survey, conducted among 79 mainly higher but some further education institutions, shows that students outside London were spending, on average, 63 per cent (Pounds 48.37) of their total weekly income (Pounds 76.63) on hall rents. They were spending an average 52 per cent (Pounds 40.12) of weekly income on private or other non-institutional accommodation. In London, students spend on average 58 per cent of their income on hall accommodation and 55 per cent on private-sector rents. Average single self-catering provision in hall was Pounds 53.11 a week (up 5.1 per cent) in London while average private rented accommodation stood at Pounds 51 (up 1.8 per cent).
The report says: "NUS is concerned that the higher increase in the costs of institutional accommodation relative to that for the private rented sector noted in this survey may be indicative of an attempt by institutions to recoup monies from students via accommodation charges in the face of Government cuts in capital funding."
The NUS survey shows that some of the increase in halls rent is due to the greater amount of en suite self-catering accommodation. The proportion of this type of accommodation has increased threefold since 1995/96 and average rent has risen by 7.5 per cent.
City University charged an average of Pounds 69 for single self-catering, the highest in the country. Aston University, in Birmingham, emerged as having the cheapest accommodation. A single self-catering apartment cost an average of Pounds 26 and full-board single Pounds 46.