Cut college costs at Durham University #RippedOff
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Accommodation fees in Durham have steadily risen over the past nine academic years exceeding the Retail Price Index (RPI) by a difference of over 25%.The University’s commitment to increasing accommodation rates by RPI is merely a small increase to an already exaggerated rate. For 2017-2018, Durham has announced accommodation fees of £6940 for catered, standard
accommodation and £5336 for self-catered, ensuite.
Had the University used the reasonable increase of RPI for the past nine academic years, the 2018-2019 fees would be at £5775 for catered, standard accommodation and £5139 for self-catered, ensuite. A review of 12 peer institutions’ accommodation rates reveals that while Durham’s upper fees for both catered and self-catered accommodation were by no means the highest, their lower fees were the highest for both catered and self-catered and by a significant margin. Durham’s lowest catered fee is over £1000.00 per year more expensive than the next highest equivalent. The variation in accommodation fees offered by peer institutions is significantly greater than what is offered at Durham. Bar one University reviewed (which only had one catered college and therefore no differentiation in price) the average % difference for catered accommodation is 31.6%. For self-catered accommodation, the average % difference was larger at 48.5%.
At Durham, there is a 7.1% difference in price from the lowest to the highest fee option if you want catered accommodation. For self-catered accommodation, there is a difference of 11.9%. For 2016-2017 Durham’s accommodation rates for 2016-2017 include a shared room discount of just £225.
Clear evidence exists showing that there have been exaggerated increases in
accommodation fees resulting in Durham being an outlier amongst peer institutions. Exploring and setting differential prices on already inflated rates will not fix the problem of too high accommodation fees. A lowering of the base rate of accommodation fees is necessary before any differentiation occurs.
High accommodation rates make living in college too high for returning students resulting in a loss of students returning to live in college and a loss of the college as a true student community. The University has been unable to identify why accommodation rates are set so high or where the money from accommodations fees is specifically distributed within the University budget.
We are calling on Durham University to:
· Lower 2018-2019 accommodation fees to what they would have been had the University been using RPI for the last nine academic years;
. Freeze accommodation fees until the conclusion of the review.
· Commit to an extensive review of accommodation fees that includes student consultation with a focus on:
-Where the funds paid for accommodation fees are actually spent;
-Pricing options including differential pricing;
-Options to increase the number of returners.
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