• Most expensive on-campus accommodation exceeds 70% of student finance.
  • Student campaigners demand rent cap.
  • VC Tickell: “I invite them to come and talk to me as I’d like to hear their views on this matter.”

The University of Sussex makes over £1 million in surplus from student housing, a Freedom of Information request has revealed. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, the surplus was of £1.8m and in 2014-15, it was £1.3m. 

Figures released show that the University, before expenditures, makes over £21 million in student rent from the residences on campus.

Based on student housing prices over the last five years, the average price of a bedroom on campus has increased by 17% over five years, from £106.09 to £123.83 in the priod 2011-2015.

Part of this increase is due to the creation and opening of Northfield in 2011, which now makes up over a quarter of the 4,237 rooms on campus, with an average price per room of £147.83.

In a statement directly from the University’s Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to The Badger, he said: “The surplus we make from rents on campus gets reinvested into housing and other services for students.

“Last year, we provided £2,000 each to 1,100 of our First Generation Scholars towards their accommodation costs.  We also gave money to help 260 students on one of our scholarship schemes to meet the cost of their housing.

“In addition to the money which goes directly to students, we use the surplus to invest in housing for the future such as the redevelopment of the East Slope student residences.  Buildings such as these were developed in the 1970s and need to be upgraded so that our students have modern and comfortable accommodation.”

A student-led campaign demanding that “accommodation should never be more than 70% of our loan” has attracted over 1,000 signatures. The 70/70 Housing Campaign’s petition says: “Currently a large amount of accommodation on campus is poor quality and very expensive, with the cost of the cheapest single rooms on campus currently making up 85% of the smallest student loan for 2016/17, which leaves only £14 a week to live on. The average cost of housing on campus is a lot higher than this, and with the planned demolition of East Slope, this cost will only go up.”

Addressing the 70/70 Housing Campaign, the Vice-Chancellor said to The Badger: “Although I’ve been in the VC post for only a couple of weeks, I have already had meetings with the Students’ Union and other people around campus about rent prices.

“I would welcome a conversation with the 70/70 Housing Campaign and I invite them to come and talk to me as I’d like to hear their views on this matter.”

The Badger has accessed data compiled last year showing the cost of housing for students in each on-campus accommodation compared to the maximum student finance.

The cost of rooms on campus in 2015 ranged from a shared room in East Slope for 68 pounds a week and Swanborough, with a single en-suite room costing 148 a week. In 2015, Swanborough and Park Village offered weekly accommodation below 100 pounds, with the other on-campus residences surpassing this figure.

The Badger has examined the average percentage rise in the cost of rent for rooms on campus between 2006 and 2015. The lowest are single rooms in Park Village and East Slope, with an average increase in cost of 2.17% and 2.64% respectively. By contrast, the highest are Brighthelm and en-suite rooms in Park Houses: their average increase in 2015 was 5.29% and 5.55% respectively.

The maximum available student finance was calculated for 2015, before the grants were abolished, as being the student finance available to students with the lowest household income. This data shows how much of the maximum student loan is taken up by rent. The lowest percentage in 2015 was a shared room in East Slope: 35.89% of the maximum loan.

Meanwhile, an en-suite in either Swanborough or Northfield took up 77% of the maximum student finance in 2015 according to these calculations.  An en-suite room in Lewes Court would have taken up 75% in 2015, and Stanmer Court was almost as expensive at 73% of the maximum student finance.

All others remain below 70%.


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