Freshers to pay an extra 5 per cent in halls rent despite Bristol Uni recording £66 million surplus

Bristol Uni recently ranked as the third worst uni for social inclusion in the country

Bristol Uni is increasing the overall rent of its university accommodation by 5 percent for the next academic year.

That is despite financial reports published by the university showing it has an institutional surplus of £66 million.

Bristol SU and Ruth Day, the Student Living Officer, have called this “disgraceful”, and have raised concerns about the higher cost of living for students.

Bristol Uni admitted it has raised the rents on high-end rooms, such as en-suites and studios, but they still do not make any profit off rents.

On a slightly more positive note, 200 new affordable beds (rent costing less than half the maximum student loan) will now be available for students.

SU Officer, Ruth Day, described the decision as “disgraceful”

Bristol Uni claim the the cost of living and inflation has forced it to raise its prices, and that the uni need to stay competitive with other private accommodation services, whilst remaining non-profit.

However, Bristol SU has said it is “extremely disappointed” in the university, and is concerned that the increased cost of living for students may push some to even further financial hardship and discourage potential students from joining Bristol Uni.

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 recently ranked Bristol Uni as the third worst university in the country for social inclusion.

Ruth Day, the Student Living Officer said that it is “disgraceful” that the university is increasing rents, especially when they made £66 million in institutional surplus last year.

Source: University of Bristol – the full financial report can be found here

Ruth Day has called on the university to subsidize rents, making them more affordable for students, especially when they have such a large sum of money at their disposal.

They also raised concerns that the higher-end bedrooms which are seeing a price hike are primarily used by disabled students, meaning that this price hike will affect them disproportionately.

In a statement, Bristol SU said: “This academic year, Bristol SU has worked closely and in partnership with University colleagues on the newly established Student Accommodation Group, to discuss and shape plans for rent setting. Despite our best efforts, the University Executive Board has voted to increase student rents by up to 5%, although there are some caveats in place.

“We’re pleased that some of our recommendations will be implemented. The number of ‘affordable beds’ (beds costing at or below 50% of the maximum maintenance loan) will increase from 7% to 9% as rents in some areas will be reduced. The accommodation bursary will be increased and additional money will be placed into student hardship funding to help with the cost of living.

“However, Bristol SU cannot support the proposals for rental increase that the university has made and we are extremely disappointed that the University have not taken all of our recommendations on this matter.

“The University had an opportunity to make a tangible difference to the living circumstances of our students by maintaining and increasing affordable rents across the property portfolio. By approving the proposed rental increase above the loan increase, the University risks plunging an ever-increasing number of students into financial hardship and/or preventing them from coming to Bristol in the first place.

“Student rents and living costs are ever increasing and Bristol SU sees the impact of this on students’ lives every day. Increasing rent by more than the 21/22-22/23 maintenance loan increase (2.3%) will have a seriously detrimental effect on the student experience and ability to afford to live in our residences.

“We will continue to fight for our students to ensure that everyone has access to quality and affordable accommodation no matter their background or income.”

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We appreciate that accommodation is one of the most significant costs that students have to meet during their time at University and as such we aim to provide a range of accommodation for every budget.

“We review our rents on an annual basis and, from September, we are reducing rent in some of our bed spaces to introduce more affordable rooms than ever before. Nearly 700 beds [9.2 percent of our overall undergraduate beds] will be priced below 50 per cent of the maintenance loan in 2022/23. This is an increase of over 200 affordable beds from 21/22.

“However, reflecting the significant national rise in energy prices and inflation, we do have to increase rent in some rooms including ensuite and studio accommodation to bring our prices more in line with rents in the private sector. We will be raising the value of our accommodation bursary in line with the price increases that have been applied and are also increasing the budget for hardship funding for next year so we can help more students with the cost of living.

“The price of our accommodation is similar to that charged by universities in the other cities in the south of England and we benchmark it against commercial accommodation providers in Bristol to ensure it remains competitive. We don’t make a profit from our student rents – all income generated is used for operating, maintaining, and improving the residences.”

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