A letter to the University Principal outlining our strong opposition to a proposed 9.5% rent increase in University Accommodation.
Dear Professor Muscatelli,
I am contacting you regarding the proposed 9.5% rent increase in University Accommodation for 2023/24. At a time when students’ finances are tighter than ever, we repeat, in the strongest possible terms, our opposition to this outrageous proposal.
We understand the University Senior Management Group are due to endorse the 9.5% rent increase in the coming weeks. Not only is the increase a shocking imposition, we also wish to register our concern at the tokenistic consultation regarding the increase: the SRC were first notified of the proposed increase in January 2023.
As you know, we have asked that the University acknowledge the impact the rise in inflation/cost of living is having on students, by either freezing rent increases completely or enforcing a considerably reduced rent increase. Our proposals were unfortunately dismissed by the University.
It is our understanding that the University is currently benchmarking its accommodation fees against other private halls providers in the city. We believe this is a flawed approach which disregards the social responsibilities of the University to provide adequate and affordable accommodation.
Given the University continues to operate at a large financial surplus, we do not believe that this increase is justified and call on the University to pause the proposed increase to allow time for further meaningful consultation with the SRC on this matter.
In reviewing the 9.5 % proposal we ask that you consider the following key arguments:
- If the University proceed with the 9.5% increase, the cheapest room you have available would cost £4,177.60. The maximum an undergraduate student can receive in maintenance support from SAAS is £8,100. This means they would be spending 55% of their student loan on accommodation fees alone.
- For students whose parents earn more than £35,000, the maximum SAAS an undergraduate can receive is £5,100, meaning rent would take up almost 87% of their loan. It’s worth noting that many students in this SAAS bracket will receive no financial aid from family and may therefore be living off of less than £100 per month after paying for accommodation.
- The UK Government policy paper, produced in January 2023, states that students are facing a real terms cut to their student loan income of 7% this year alone. As prices skyrocket, the student loan stays the same, leaving many students out of pocket.
- The aforementioned research specifically relates to students funded by Student Finance England (SFE), however SAAS-funded students are in a considerably worse position as SAAS have only increased the undergraduate maintenance loan available by £350 in the last two years and currently we are not aware of any planned increase for 2023/24.
- The Scottish Government has recently undertaken some research into the current landscape and operation of PBSA's in Scotland and concluded that "There will continue to be large numbers of international students and also a high probability that, in future years, more home students will come from lower income widening access backgrounds, thereby increasing affordability pressures across student accommodation provision.”
- On its Widening Participation web pages, the University states “We believe all applicants should have an equal chance of entry and we strive to identify talent and potential, regardless of background or life circumstance.” We believe that it’s completely unrealistic to expect any student, especially a student from a Widening Participation background, who may already be facing financial difficulty, to be able to pay for University halls and study effectively, as well as meet any additional responsibilities without working an unmanageable number of hours.
What do we want the University to do?
- Agree to further meaningful consultation with the SRC on rent increases for University accommodation for 2023/24 and beyond.
- To establish a working group made up of Senior University staff and SRC representatives who will meet at agreed points each academic year to discuss any proposed rent increases for the upcoming year.
SRC President 22/23
 University Financial Statement for 2021/22 - https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_902852_smxx.pdf
 This is based on the current cheapest room available in University of Glasgow halls for 2022/23 which is £104.44 per week. Contracts are offered over a minimum of 39 weeks of the year.
 Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) and student housing: research - https://www.gov.scot/publications/research-purpose-built-student-accommodation-pbsa-student-housing-scotland/pages/2/