Uni rally held against rent hike increases
Students at Stirling University have led angry calls for the institution to reverse rent increases which they believe will hit some of the poorest attendees hardest.
The Solidarity Space society hosted a rally last week opposing changes to rent increases which they say are between seven and nine per cent - including rents which had been frozen in prior years to help students on lower incomes.
It believes the move means that rent costs in the cheapest accommodation for those on the lowest level of student loan could leave them facing what it describes as a “double digit budget” to live on per month.
At the rally, attendees including the National Union of Students president Ellie Gomersall, demanded a reversal of the rises and rent freezes to be introduced across the board.
However, a Stirling University spokesperson denied claims that it had introduced the rent rises in late March without any announcement and said the revised rents would be in place for the next academic year, with no impact on existing accommodation contracts.
The anger over rent rises follows on from other complaints by students regarding the condition of accommodation provided at the university.
A Stirling Solidarity Space statement said: “The university is raising rent amidst a cost of living crisis, we simply cannot afford it.
“We need rent controls immediately which include student accommodation.
“At the Stirling Solidarity Space we have been canvassing student halls over the past couple of years, with support from our students union.
“We’ve found all sorts of problems which have just been ignored such as; flats with insect infestations, mould in bathrooms, windows which either don’t open or don’t close, heating and hot water turned off for weeks, doors which do not meet fire safety regulations.
“We need solidarity and we need to build collective power because students should not and cannot live like this.
“The Solidarity Space will be working with the student union to ensure that students are heard and stop this rent increase.”
In response, a spokesperson for the university said a rent freeze is in place of 15 per cent for university accommodation and all rent rises were below the consumer price index of 10.1 per cent.
The spokesperson said: “Through the university’s Rent Review Group, on which there is both university and students’ union representation, we are committed to working to ensure that students can access a wide range of quality, affordable accommodation.
“To support our students’ budgeting, all universitymanaged accommodation includes energy bills, highquality internet access and contents insurance within the rental fee.
“The rent levels for the 2023/24 academic year include a rent freeze on 15 per cent of our universitymanaged accommodation and a variable below inflation increase across the remainder of properties.
“These increases reflect inflationary pressures and rising operating costs – including utilities, staffing and maintenance costs.
“The university remains one of the best value-formoney accommodation providers in the sector, and our accommodation pricing structure goes further than the affordable criteria set out by the National Union of Students. “Furthermore, we continue to provide students with a wide range of support and have significantly increased the funding available to support students experiencing financial hardship in relation to accommodation costs.”