We call on the University of Bath to Cut the Rent!
Rent is a problem for every student. Our University treats providing student accommodation as a commercial business activity. This is a key reason to students facing unprecedented financial pressure. Undergraduates who have paid tuition fees of up to £9000 are estimated to leave university with an average debt of £44,000. Poorest students are worst off, with an average debt of £57,000.
Students face an estimated average shortfall of £8000 between living costs and income and support for student is diminishing whilst debt is likely to rise further. The implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework will mean further, exponential fee rises. From 2016/17, student grants are no longer available and the maximum loan is capped at £8200 for students outside London. The cost of student housing nationally has increased by almost a quarter in the past seven years, outpacing inflation and price rises in the private rental sector.
The situation is even more severe at the University of Bath and has reached breaking point. Undergraduate student accommodation prices rose by an average of 5.5% from 2016/17 to 2017/18; this rise is consistent with a pattern of huge increases for several years. Bath, Cut the Rent’s research shows that no more than 8% of beds are covered by 70% of the maximum maintenance loan (£5740), meaning that the vast majority beds in university accommodation are barely covered by student finance.
The physical and mental strains that these financial pressures place upon on students is unacceptable. According to the NUS, financial pressures are a key contributing factor to almost 7 out of 10 students experiencing mental health difficulties whilst at university.
Cut the Rent is a national movement, with students in London, Bristol, Oxford, Sussex, Aberdeen and elsewhere taking action to persuade their University to reduce rent costs, open up the process by which accommodation is managed and ensure student voices are placed at the heart of all decisions. As a result of ‘Cut the Rent’ movements, Universities have yielded to student voices nationwide. In 2015, students at UCL won over £1 million in concessions after over 1000 students went on rent strike.
Put simply, the high rents demanded by University of Bath’s accommodation services are unfair. More and more students are now either forced by their own university into financial difficulties by unaffordable accommodation fees, or decide not to apply as their financial status becomes an unofficial entry requirement. We cannot allow the present situation to continue. Rent is everyone’s problem.
Therefore, we, as students of the University of Bath, demand that the University:
- Take urgent action to vastly expand the provision of genuinely affordable student accommodation. Bath, Cut the Rent proposes rent should be capped for the cheapest standard single room at 70% of the minimum UK maintenance loan, and that the rent for the most expensive standard single room should be capped at 70% of the maximum UK maintenance loan, across all university-managed accommodation.
- Publish a complete breakdown of the running and maintenance costs of student accommodation.
- Ensure accommodation is actually accessible to all students and in particular for marginalised groups including women, BAME students, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities and students from poorer socio-economic backgrounds.
If these demands are not met, we will continue to take action and will have our discontent heard.
This petition was created by Bath, Cut the Rent.
For more information, please contact Bath, Cut the Rent on Facebook