Students have this week voiced outrage after YUSU revealed University plans to introduce rent-bands to distinguish between different qualities of accommodation on campus.
Many have expressed that the introduction of any form of rent-banding could lead to the separation of wealthier students from the less financially well-off.
Ben Humphrys, YUSU Welfare Officer, said the introduction of such rent-banding would create segregations similar to “New York City, but on a University basis”.
Currently, all on-campus accommodation is the same price; the only distinction made is between standard and en-suite rooms, along with the number of weeks let per year.
Over the past four years, the University have invested over £5 million on improvements to accommodation.
According to Jane Grenville, Pro Vice-Chancellor, since the refurbishments a “number of rooms in the older colleges are of a lesser quality than the newly-built or recently refurbished [rooms]” meaning “those occupying standard or older en-suite rooms are [now] subsidising the occupiers of new en-suite accommodation, which is underpriced.”
On his first day at York, one first-year student from a college with a lower standard of accommodation than Derwent, commented: “The price of the accommodation is the same and yet it is not of the same standard.”
Grenville has suggested that to prevent these kinds of complaints arising in the future, the University must “show the other types of room available and offer [students] some reduction on rooms based on condition/furnishing.”
Official YUSU policy rejects the idea of any form of rent-banding. According to Humphrys, during negotiations with the University, YUSU has managed to change University rent-banding from “26 bands to just four”.
Under the newly proposed rent bands, the cheapest rooms – all of which will be in Derwent College and Langwith College – will cost just over £80 per week.
The most expensive rooms, the majority of which will be in Alcuin and Goodricke College, will cost over £110 per week.
The University has also proposed that an accommodation and food package should be available in some colleges. However, according to Humphrys, this will only be an option in colleges which fall into the “cheapest rent band.”
Although the University has maintained that the new rent-banding system will not generate more revenue than the current system.
Humphrys claims that because the accommodation and food package would only be available in the cheapest colleges – which would inevitably attract less financially well-off students – the University would effectively be “increasing revenue through rent on the cheapest band of property.”
Sam Asfahani stated: “If the University has to increase revenue, it should be done equally. He added: “I’m pleased that we have succeeded in making the University go some way towards taking the views of students into account.”