Oxford student rent among most expensive in Britain

first_imgOxford students face some of the largest living costs of any in the country, a survey has shown. The average rent paid by an Oxford undergraduate in 2010 was £106 per week according to an independent guide to universities, Push.co.uk. Students at Cardiff University pay almost half the amount for their accommodation as students in Oxford.A University spokesperson defended accommodation fees in Oxford. She said, “The overall average for all Colleges comes to an average rent of £119 per week so the accommodation charges are considerably lower than in the private housing sector in Oxford.“Terms are short at Oxford, which makes accommodation costs over the entire degree less than at many universities.”The disparity between the accommodation charges at different colleges has also caused alarm among students. Some students have been asking the University to justify the fact that students at different colleges to pay such different rates.At Brasenose, students can chose to pay approximately £2,174 in their first year for accomodation, whilst at Trinity College students pay over £3,600. Both the University and OUSU responded by pointing out that a lot of college accommodation is heavily subsidised.The discrepancy between accomodation costs among colleges can be partially be attributed to the fact that battels vary enormously in composition from college to college. Some battels include ‘facilities charges’ of over £200, whilst others ask for room deposits. Trinity College JCR President, Charlotte Meara, said, “It is important to note that other services are included in this charge and the JCR has chosen to retain a system of equality with regard to rent. We are always working with college to make sure that the JCR gets good value for what are comparatively higher accommodation costs.” Trinity’s Domestic Bursar, John Keeling, denied that high accommodation costs might deter students from applying.He said, “Our charges do not appear to be deterring potential applicants from applying as we had about 18% more applications for 2011 vis a vis 2010. And of the successful applicants 3% more than last year came from maintained schools.” St Hugh’s students are also subject to large accommodation costs relative to other colleges. This is mainly due to the base rate accommodation charge of £1,123 per term.First year student, Kirsty Flanagan, suggested why the St Hugh’s fees were so large. She said, “St Hugh’s is set in large grounds and so the gardens’ upkeep probably makes our rent more than that of smaller colleges. The comparison that matters is not with another college’s accommodation but with another student at St Hugh’s who will pay the same but may very possibly have a much better room.”OUSU President, David Barclay, said, “Although the cost of living in the city is higher than other parts of the country, some college accommodation in Oxford is widely regarded as amongst the cheapest university accommodation in the UK, and many colleges heavily subsidise their accommodation for students.”Despite this, students in some colleges are paying over £1,000 more per year than at other colleges for the most basic accommodation that their colleges provide.The OUSU President acknowledged that battels were not standardised across the university and that this could lead to confusion.He said, “Inequalities between colleges need to be looked at not just in terms of accommodation charges but as a whole in terms of compulsory charges, which in some colleges includes kitchen charges, gym charges, food charges etc. It is true that such inequalities do exist, and under the new fees system I think it is only fair that students should have all of that information available to them.”A University spokesperson pointed out that fees were set by individual colleges rather than the University. She said, “Individual colleges determine the levels at which they set their rents and charge students for food and other living costs, including the timeframe over which any changes are implemented. They are set on the basis of discussions between Governing Bodies and student representatives of that college.”She went on to say, “College accommodation includes features rarely found in private rented accommodation, such as IT provision, security, insurance cover, access to onsite subsidised catering and emergency assistance for students needing emotional support or healthcare.”Both David Barclay and Alex Bulfin, OUSU VP for Access and Academic Affairs, pointed out that bursaries and funds were available to students who were not able to meet the financial demands of Oxford. Barclay said, “We are currently working with the University and colleges to ensure that we have a rigorous bursary system in place for those who need it and that it is able to cope with any variety in college costs.”“The University recognises that no matter what financial background a student is from or what college they attend, all students must be able to afford to live during their time here in Oxford, and OUSU will continue to work with them on this important area of policy.”A University spokesperson added, “The ‘Oxford Opportunity Bursary’ is one of the most generous in the country: the maximum bursary is £3,225 per year, plus an £875 top-up in the first year for starting costs. “About a quarter of undergraduate students currently hold Oxford Opportunity Bursaries, which will mean the total spend on bursaries for the year will be £1.86 million.”last_img

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