The University of York have formed a joint venture with Evans Property Group to own and run the newly built Goodricke College accommodation on Heslington East, in one of the biggest property transactions the City of York has seen this year.
The multi-million pound deal, between the University and the Leeds-based company, will transfer the 589-room student accommodation to private ownership, while also giving Evans full control over the running of the college facilities.
Graham Gilbert, finance director of the University, called it an “important” and “innovative” transaction, which “has enabled us to liberate significant funds for the further development of our estate while allowing us to make an investment in student accommodation”.
The college, which was officially opened by Prince Andrew earlier this year, features three accommodation blocks, a large communal common room, laundry facilities and offices for staff.
Alan Syers, Portfolio Director of Evans Property Group, stated his company’s satisfaction with the deal: “As long term investors in property, we value our relationships with our partners. We expect that this innovative approach to the ownership and management of student accommodation will deliver long term benefits to both partners.”
While the deal has proved lucrative for the University, concerns have been raised that it indicates a worrying trend of the privatisation of University facilities. With Alcuin College also being managed by an outside private firm, there is a fear that the running of the University will be focused completely on profit rather than what is most beneficial to students.
One second-year student commented: “It’s just further evidence that the University is becoming more of a business venture, just looking to make more money so that those at the top can keep earning their ridiculously inflated salaries.”
However, Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, expressed his support for the joint venture: “The new venture allows the University to reinvest some locked capital back into legacy estate on Heslington West. When students return at the beginning of the coming term, they will see these benefits mostly on Heslington West but also the new facilities on Heslington East.”
Philip Ashworth, a partner of Dickinson Dees, the law firm who oversaw the transaction, stated that the deal is “one of the most significant… in York over the past 12 months”. He added that it “enables the University to keep an interest in Goodricke College, while sharing the responsibility of ownership with one of the leading development and investment companies in the north of England”.