Derwent accommodation to become catered

Derwent College accommodation is to become the first fully catered accommodation on campus at the start of next academic year.

Accommodation blocks A, B, C and D in Derwent College are to become fully catered as of October 2010. This will be the only fully catered accommodation at the University of York.

In an email sent round to Derwent College, the College Provost, Dr. Rob Aitken, stipulated that “the main accommodation blocks in Derwent (Blocks A, B, C and D) will include a catered package – breakfast and dinner for Monday to Friday in term time.”

Rent for a standard room in these blocks will be £98.39 per week, whilst en-suite rooms will be £104.08.

Eden’s Court, along with blocks E and F, will remain self-catered, and the rent for standard rooms will remain at £86.03 per week. Aitken pointed out that “all catered rooms in Blocks A-D (standard and en-suite) will be cheaper than an uncatered en-suite room [in Derwent] and the newer standard accommodation in other colleges.”

Specifically, he mentioned that “rent for accommodation in the newer blocks in Alcuin, Goodricke, James and Vanburgh will be substantially more expensive.”

The alteration, which comes after the recent concerns over rent-banding and its possible divisionary effects, means the re-opening of Derwent Dining Hall. Aitken declared that he was currently working with the University’s Commercial Services to find funds to improve the aesthetics and atmosphere of the current Derwent Café/Bar area.

Aitken also stated that “these plans will also hopefully safeguard the future of Derwent Bar”, which has been under the on-going threat of closure due to its lack of financial profitability.


  1. 16 Jan ’10 at 12:16 am

    langwith student

    Strange I heard the same story for my college too.

    Quality reporting

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  2. Ridiculous, we spend the whole year as the 2009 chairs fighting this and then the university decides to announce it during the handover in JCRCs and Chairs.

    It makes me wonder why we wasted a year in student politics when none of our opinions are listened to.

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  3. I never wonder why nobody listens to you Sam.

    Perhaps you can explain why a catered Derwent is a problem?

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  4. Is it just me that thinks this might actually be quite a positive thing? I’m a second year, and I would have welcomed the chance to have food prepared for me. This does seem to limit student choice (to cook for themselves), but perhaps forcing us to have communal meals would be GOOD for college spirit? As a James student, I think spirit would be improved if the college dined together every night, as is the case in Durham etc.

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  5. 16 Jan ’10 at 11:11 pm

    Sami-Rose Sterjon

    Some of us can’t afford that much but still want to be Derwenters! I don’t spend 30 pounds per week and I don’t want to be made to!

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  6. Don’t forget that with the online accommodation forms, prospective students can still exert their right to choose non-catered Colleges if they really do not fancy the catered packages

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  7. Sami-Rose, the difference isn’t that much! A standard room is £86 while the catered room is £98. A difference of £12, which will be 5 breakfast meals and 5 dinner meals, Monday to Friday. At £1.20 a meal, it really isn’t that bad a price.

    Consider still that it would be cheaper than an en suite room of £104, found in other colleges.

    Although, when I started at York rent used to be two shillings and ‘alfpence. Those were the days.

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  8. Well this is a stupid idea. It makes sense to give the choice but not to enforce it either way.

    Also, how will food sales ensure Derwent Bar? I thought that when they tried to close it, the bar figures never included the food? Seems very suspicious…

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  9. I think the reasoning was that people would have drinks with their meal. I believe at the time closing the food part of Derwent resulted in a downturn in bar figures as well

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  10. “Some of us can’t afford that much but still want to be Derwenters! I don’t spend 30 pounds per week and I don’t want to be made to!”

    Sami-Rose Sterjon, I’ve heard that YUSU campaigns officer, Jason Rose, supports this. As far as I’m concerned, this means it must be the right course of action for the University. Any comment?

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  11. That is quite a conundrum, there, twf, normally I would support the exact opposite of anything supported/denounced by either Jason Rose or Sam Asfahani. Not sure what to do now.

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  12. 17 Jan ’10 at 4:36 pm

    Matthew Freckelton

    I think overall it’s a good idea. It would be interesting to see if they have Derwent Bar re-open like it was before or if this is the start of some trial run. If successful we might see it roll out across campus.

    Furthermore, Sam I see what you mean, the Uni could do with better communicating it’s long term plans. This is something that must have been in the pipe line for quite some time. It makes no sense for the Uni not to consult with the Chairs/relevant reps on this issue.

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  13. I was writing in terms of Langwith, where students would have to go to either Vanbrugh or Derwent for lunch and dinner.

    Thats a great way to help college spirit…

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  14. Furthermore surveys suggested it was unpopular in 2007/2008, so why cant surverys be done again?

    The whole college being catered also doesnt necessarily mean a stronger spirit. Its not like Oxbridge where lunch and dinner is served at a certain time and everyone eats together. Talks last year suggested it would be closer to the current MAD system.

    There is also a fear of social segration where you wont get anyone from a certain income background who can afford to spend over £100 a week on rent.

    Im all for the idea of catered, something most universities in the country offer, but doing it in two colleges on such a large scale is just too risky. An improvement in the current MAD system would be a much safer way to go at this.

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  15. Social segregation? As Ollie pointed out, it works out at £1.20 a meal, which I imagine cannot be matched by any self catering diet beyond pasta and beans. It may very well be that these catered packages are all that poorer students can afford given the terribly high prices here at York. That’s the real fight, the fight I would love to see YUSU really sink its teeth into. The cost of the most basic room on campus has doubled in the last decade, which is ridiculous when you consider that private accommodation has only seen an increase of roughly 10-15%. The difference is by no-means accounted for by rising fuel costs either.

    I don’t believe that a single cost regardless of the standard of room students are granted is the way to fight segregation either (as YUSU have campaigned for in the past). What we need is a range of accommodation to suit budgets and tastes and an active use of social space so that people in different types of accommodation get to meet.

    Segregation on campus is much more likly to be a product of age, nationality, ethnicity, maybe even gender, than the standard of accommodation. That basic segregation manifests itself in admissions. The majority of students – poor students and rich students alike – will go to the pub, play for the college team, steal roadsigns, and generally mingle. That is as long as they make it to uni in the first place. With the cheapest room on campus being £86 a week, the real danger is that people don’t bother to come in the first place.

    And lets face it, if £100 a week is the going rate for a nice ensuite in newer accommodation, you would expect alot more for the £86 you pay in a standard Derwent room. The difference between the two costs is basically £2 a day for your own toilet, your own shower/bath, invariably fewer people per kitchen, which in turn means fewer people per oven, fridge, and bin.

    What the uni needs, what poorer students need, is provision of lower cost accommodation that reflects the standard of the accommodation. Derwent’s standards, Langwith’s standards, Old Goodricke C, all used to be economy standard and priced at under £50 a week. Yes you were in the worst accommodation, but you had plenty in your pocket to spend in the bar meeting the rich students. Now you’re just in the slums and skint.

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  16. It was mixed in 1st year, mainly because the kitchens were completely and utterly shite. We had a baby belling between 12 of us and we were meant to be catered. Now, all of Derwent has kitchens of high quality and they’re going catered? It makes them seem like a waste of money to me.

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  17. 17 Jan ’10 at 11:05 pm

    Thinking of an alternative

    Surely a better idea would be to improve the quality of catering in Derwent, therefore attracting students to it out of their own will rather than forcing them?

    Nonetheless, dinner on campus is expensive and if they were giving two meals for £1.20 a day as mentioned above, then thumbs up.

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  18. The deal itself of £1.20 isn’t too bad (although of course in reality its more, because breakfast is 20p or something for cereal – unless this deal is Full English?).

    I’d be more worried about Derwent’s student demographic changing – And I don’t mean rich and poor students here. Derwent has a high number of gap year students (who tend to be more independently minded in terms of living) and also has (generally regarded) the best events and college spirit.
    The people who are attracted to a catered college will surely be the people who are more afraid of leaving home and worried about catering for themselves?
    I would hate for Derwent to become the home of the struggle-to-look-after-themselves students.

    and ARP – students will still have to cook for themselves for lunch and weekends. Also “high quality” might also be a bit generous…

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  19. 18 Jan ’10 at 2:36 pm

    Joseph Leyland

    Better facilities… why are we complaining? It’s called modernisation and the University has a structure which, from what I have seen, creates an environment anything but segregated. Differences in price of accommodation are not going to create a poor and rich class of students on campus. That thought is neglecting a lot of other factors, students and their means of payment (most likely parents) have different priorities. In addition, grants will help allow students the opportunity select which type of accommodation they want. It may even work out that students in the more expensive and catered accommodation end up paying less in the long run because the meals, which will be geared towards a staple diet, are good value and cost-effective. Consequently, the student will have more time to study or socialise.

    With regards to student politics, it is merely the organisation of events, publication of information to the student and to a certain extent, welfare. Don’t get me wrong, I think people involved work hard and enhance University life, but if you think they have any real power or should be involved University decisions, you’re on the wrong planet. Chairs come and go and have one thing in common: they don’t live long in the memory and are forgotten after a term being replaced.

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  20. As much as anything, it makes sense to avoid this on the grounds that it *appears* more expensive. I also just phoned the Accommodation Office who told me that standard 38 week let is £3134.58 – that’s £82 – so I’m not exactly sure what “will remain at £86.03 per week” is supposed to mean! I’m really not keen on the university shoving even more past the grates during holiday times, during handovers and without any consultation. What the hell are they playing at?! Optional is a good idea but blanket every-student-is-catered is just going to damage the system. Fairfax is proof of the system not working effectively.

    And it’s unlikely that students will have breakfast and an evening meal every day so the cost of £3.20 per day [(98-82)/5] could well end up being a bad deal for some students. If I end up living back on campus next year, I would be happy to have that meal – but in my first year I would definitely not have wanted it (irrespective of whether I can afford it since my first year loan was adequate and I was working) since I worked nights and therefore couldn’t have breakfast and my evenings are always packed. Yes it was my choice but that’s why the package should be optional!

    And Flynny, I don’t support it! :P

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  21. 18 Jan ’10 at 5:27 pm

    Joseph Leyland

    Sorry to hear you worked nights in your first year J, that must have been traumatic for you

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  22. Luke, relatively speaking to what we had in our first year, I can assure you that ‘high quality’ is by no means an understatement.

    Agree with you on demographics though for sure. I hope it stays the way it is.

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  23. What do you mean the Fairfax system doesn’t work? Fairfax breakfast meant that I actually woke up in the mornings.

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  24. 20 Jan ’10 at 8:42 pm

    Every Derwent Student

    “Chairs come and go and have one thing in common: they don’t live long in the memory and are forgotten after a term being replaced.”

    Oliver Lester will live forever.

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  25. I agree with ‘Every Derwent Student’.
    Oliver Lester will go down in history. SHABBA!

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  26. 21 Jan ’10 at 5:01 pm

    Joseph Leyland

    OK, Lester is the exception. I will grant you that. Him and his gal make a great couple and I love his friendship group – Wedge and Kaf

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  27. Dunno, Jamie Tyler is still pretty well known considering that he’s not a student here anymore. And Rich Croker. Though whether they’re remembered specifically for Derwent is challengeable?

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  28. 22 Jan ’10 at 4:27 pm


    The name says it all. The man is a legend! He is the nicest guy you will ever meet and did so much for his college. Definitely someone to look up to currrent and future chairs…

    Yes Joseph, I like him and his girlfriend together too. They should have a Derwent marriage! Can I be the best man?

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