A major piece of research on student perceptions of value for money, undertaken by students unions, has been published by the Office for Students. The research findings around student accommodation were that:
- nearly a quarter of students did not feel informed about how much everything would cost as a student, with accommodation cited as one of the main factors
- students believe that accommodation should be subsidised by their higher education provider
- 62% of students believe their fees should be used to fund the cost of accommodation
- only 30% of students believe that accommodation should be entirely paid for by students (as up-front costs/additional charges), whereas 58% of students believe that accommodation fees should be partly subsidised by the higher education provider (with student contributions)
- accommodation charges are a consistent theme in the research and many students believe that charges are too high.
This won’t be news to many readers, who may remember the UCL students’ rent strike in 2016, which ended with a £1.5 million concession from the University.
Some students are now taking control of the housing market for themselves, by setting up housing coops. A new national body has been set-up by Cooperatives UK, which aims to grow the movement from 150 to 10,000 bed spaces in 5 years.
The aim to to offer accommodation on average 30% cheaper than on the commercial market, which fits with the experience of current student housing coops in Edinburgh, Birmingham and Sheffield. A press release gives a range of details about the reasons for establishing democratically-controlled student housing, but it is perhaps better to hear the students talk about their experiences, while seeing the fantastic job they have made of their accommodation in this short video:
Watching this, I felt envious. I wish there had been accommodation like this when I was at university – it looks fantastic. To find out more, the newly-launched national body, “Student Co-op Homes” can be found at https://www.uk.coop/students
Oh, and I think we can safely say we now know how the Halls of Residence at our Cooperative University are going to be run…