Student fare may be humble, but the price of the average undergraduate's gastronomic experiments is potentially astronomic.
The burned burger and the singed sausage, trademark of the novice self-caterer detached from the support of home cooking for the first time, may be costing the tax-payer hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, the University of Glamorgan has discovered.
The culinary mishaps of students staying in the university's new multi-million pound accommodation complex resulted in hundreds of visits from the local fire service last academic year, at an estimated cost of Pounds 187,000.
David Williams, chief fire officer for the Mid Glamorgan Fire Service, was meeting with university officials today to discuss ways of preventing a repeat of accidents and false alarms which had fire crews turning out up to four times a night.
High on their list of priorities will be measures to stop students wedging open fire safety doors and allowing cooking fumes from communal kitchens to float into living quarters and set off smoke alarms.
Mr Williams said burned food and open firedoors were responsible for most of the call-outs, costing up to Pounds 100 per incident, although there had also been a number of hoax emergency calls.
"I suppose there must be many students who have never even boiled an egg for themselves before. But we must do something to prevent a repeat of last year or people might start to ignore the alarms and fire procedures, and the price of that could be lives rather than just thousands of pounds," he said.
A university spokesman said the number of alarms was of concern, but only a small proportion were down to hoaxes. "The new buildings are state of the art and equipped with detectors which are very sensitive to any whiff of smoke. Burned toast is probably the biggest culprit."