Students to pay for college membership

The college membership fee is being implemented to help fund the introduction of a new college staffing structure

The University has announced that students starting courses in September 2015 will have to pay a college membership fee to help fund changes to the structure of colleges that are being implemented next year.

Image: Nouse

Image: Nouse

Students doing degrees which last three years or longer will pay a one-off fee of £30, while those enrolled on two-year courses will pay £20.

Visiting students and those enrolling in a one-year programme will face a £10 membership fee.

Distance learners, people signed up to Continual Professional Development (CPD) courses and those studying at the Centre for Lifelong Learning will be exempt from paying a membership fee, which the University has stated will be “lower than equivalent charges at other collegiate universities”.

Sam Maguire, YUSU President, told Nouse: “The college membership fee is vital to ensuring that everyone gets something positive out of their college experience.

“Ten pounds a year is not a lot considering that at other institutions you pay up to fifty pounds a year.

“However, the fee has to be justifiable, and if students next year do not feel like they are getting value for their money, they should communicate this through their Junior Common Room Committee/Student Associations, and YUSU.

“Some of the money generated should also go to the student committees who are underfunded, and I want to work with the University to ensure that this happens.”

Michael Duncan, Chair of Vanbrugh College, said: “Compared to most collegiate universities, our colleges are woefully underfunded.

“While the University’s willingness to moderately increase the amount of money it spends on colleges is a step in the right direction, it is simply not enough.

“More importantly, the University should pull itself together and find the money from elsewhere, rather than coming up with new ways, such as this affiliation fee, to squeeze money out of its already overcharged students.”

The changes to the way in which colleges are structured were approved by the University’s Senior Management Group this month, following the trial of a pilot scheme in James, Langwith and Vanbrugh during the last academic year.

The pilot scheme saw the roles of College Provost and Dean replaced by College Principal and Officer. Constantine adopted the same staffing structure when it opened this year. From August 2015, every college will be led by a part-time ‘Head of College’, who will be supported by a full-time ‘Assistant Head of College’. The role of College Administrator will stay the same.

The University has confirmed that the changes to the way colleges are structured will “[carry] an increased cost” but expects students to have a “more rounded college experience as a result.”

It is also hoped the new structure will provide a “more comprehensive network of welfare and support for students” and “[facilitate] student development and college activities.”

As a result, the Head of College and other members of college staff will no longer receive free accommodation as they do under the current structure.

However, college welfare tutors will get a “significant” weekly rent subsidy of £120 in place of the full accommodation fee waiver they currently receive in return for the work they do to “ensure equity” between them.

College welfare tutors are not able to choose which court they reside in and applications are considered by all colleges by default, although students may indicate a preference for a certain college when applying for the role.

The University has promised to “work with college tutors to ensure they are in appropriate accommodation for their needs”.

Jemima Busby, Welfare and Community Officer, told Nouse: “The college tutors are a really great part of college life. A lot of their work is done behind the scenes and supporting students while continuing their studies. This year, the college tutor training was developed to support them and equip them to be an even bigger asset to [colleges], especially through signposting students to support.

The decision to move to the new staffing structure was made by a panel including both academic staff and representatives from the student population. The panel was chaired by Jane Grenville, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students.

A University of York spokesperson told Nouse: “This new structure ensures that we retain academic oversight of our colleges, which is central to York’s philosophy of living and learning communities, as well as providing a full-time staff presence to manage the day-to-day operations of college life.”


  1. “As a result, the Head of College and other members of college staff will be no longer receive free accommodation as they do under the current structure.”

    The accommodation isn’t free. It’s earned on a basis of 15hr/pw average work commitment to the College for tutors. This makes it payment in kind.

    Also, tutors can choose to specify which College they would like to interview for and work in. They don’t pick which rent band they want to live in.

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    • I think the problem here is that the jobs of the College Tutors will not be changed, as far as I know, but receive less towards their accommodation costs. Essentially, taking a pay cut.

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    • The phrasing of the sentence about changes to the provision of accommodation was based on the wording used in the University’s statement. The article has now been amended to avoid ambiguity.

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    • That paragraph isn’t referring to tutors, its referring to Provosts, Deans etc. who can currently live on campus for free, IN ADDITION to being paid.

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      • The Deans don’t get paid…

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      • As was already said, deans don’t get paid – they all have full time jobs elsewhere in gbe university. The only compensation they receive for being a dean is accommodation.

        Provists are employed in a college (at 25%). Some receive ‘free’ accommodation, some – don’t. Those who live on campus receive lower monetary salary than those who don’t.

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        • Who cares?! They are all being dismissed from
          their college posts to make way for the new system, aren’t they? So the whole thing about their houses or flats is really not a thing at all

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    • It’s worth noting tutors are technically volunteers. They don’t get payment and the accommodation is given for free to offset that. However, given the hours they normally work, the cost of the accommodation is less than what they would be paid even if they were earning minimum wage.

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  2. Whilst I agree that £10 a year may not be a lot of money, it is the principle at stake here which I take an issue with. It is wrong that students will be forced to pay £10 to join a college which they have to do if they want to get campus accommodation. Especially as the accommodation at the University is already ridiculously expensive. There are some individuals who may be more concerned about their degree as opposed to what their individual colleges get up to, especially as they move beyond first year. There should be an opt out option for those individuals who are not interested in being a member of the collegiate system or getting involved. I chose the University because of my degree course, not based on the college system

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    • Every York student, whether resident or not, is a member of a college. It is a collegiate university and the is no ‘opting out’. From next year every first year will have to pay the fee regardless whether they choose to live in campus or not. Money raised (as well as money saved by capping tutors accommodation waver and getting rid of residential staff) will be used to plug the funding gap left by moving to a new staffing structure.

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      • This isn’t actually true. There is an opt out and not all students are in colleges….

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        • There is absolutely no opt out. Every single student IS a member of a college. The university regulations are built around that (discipline, harassment, etc); college membership is printed in graduation programmes and, i think, on certificates. The only – extremely (!) rare – exception is when membership is revoked for very serious disciplinary breaches. You often (not always) can change your college membership, but you cannot opt out of a college membership in a colleagiate university.

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  3. 26 Nov ’14 at 3:36 pm

    College Student

    In my experience even £10 a year is extortionate. In my college, at least, the ‘welfare’ staff were dismissive of any issues, and useless in the rare instance that they would attempt to support/otherwise quell any issues.

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    • That is definitely not on and you should complain about specific instances so that someone can look into it. For here, just a few issues – were you suicidal, have you suffered from crippling anxiety or depression (to the point when you needed help to even make it to professional services), have you or your housemate had a psychotic break-down? Or maybe you were shocked to find that, unlike your parents’, the world of others doesn’t revolve around you, that you need to negotiate and compromise with those around you and take responsibility for that.

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    • That’s not on. You should bring something up because the staff are there to support the students. My experience with the welfare team was a positive one, and friends in other colleges echo that. But the team is there to help students and if they aren’t helping you there are other options.

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  4. 27 Nov ’14 at 12:25 am

    Something, something YUSU.

    This is just another hidden cost that Freshers will be forced to pay in their first few weeks at uni. On top of deposits and the already over-priced campus accommodation (which isn’t really in line with off-campus student rent), Fresher’s Week wristbands, and if you want to join a fee-paying society that’s an extra cost.

    It’s a lot of money for people to cough up all at once, and has been said above, it’s a matter of principle. The University advertises itself based on the college system, to start charging for it is a bit of a smack in the face, especially considering the sorts of money the University is sitting on and the wages paid out to Vice Chancellors and other executives.
    What if a student who moves off campus in second year (like the majority of us do) refuses to pay the fee? Will they then be ineligible to attend college events, voting in college elections or join college sports teams? It will damage whatever remaining illusions of college spirit there are and probably discourage (or, if you haven’t paid this fee, prevent) people from attending college balls and bar crawls, which will only financially hurt colleges and JCRC’s/SA’s an awful lot more in the long run.

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    • Don’t disagree. But… From what i’ve heard, you will pay the fee in full up front at the start of your first year (whether you live on campus or not). You will not need to pay it again in subsequent years.

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  5. 27 Nov ’14 at 12:35 am

    Passing the buck

    “However, the fee has to be justifiable, and if students next year do not feel like they are getting value for their money, they should communicate this through their Junior Common Room Committee/Student Associations, and YUSU.”

    Too late for this. The money is needed to pay for the new college officers’ salaries and there is no going back. There will be no net addition to colleges disposable income. The time to raise concerns was last year. YUSU have supported the change and every aspect of it throughout. The change is permanent now. YUSU pretending it is not is annoying and cowardly.

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  6. 29 Nov ’14 at 12:55 pm

    Investigate this

    The question Nouse and Vision need to ask is this: how does this MANDATORY fee not contravene the legislation on tuition fees? Technically York now charge £9,010 a year – £10 above the legal maximum…

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  7. University is getting hard to finance, even with a bursary.
    I feel sorry for those students coming up after me, potentially with even less cash than me.
    This fee creep (in addition to the ~£4 p/w accommodation rise) may not seem like much, but you can bet it’ll take some people over the edge.

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  8. They’re glorified halls of residence, not colleges. Socially marvelous, and a nice way to ‘sort’ accommodation into rent bands but they’re not really academically important. The staffing and funding structures aren’t comparable to other collegiate universities because York is collegiate in name only.

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    • This isn’t far from the truth historically. Colleges have been underfunded and not consulted on key changes that affected them; as a result they shrank to just a social (JCRC) and welfare/discipline provision. There has been a drive to restore them to much more than that. Although colleges in York will probably never have a direct academic role within the student’s chosen subject, they started having academic relevance on the ‘periphery’ (avademic skills, mentoring, student-directed learning initiatives). Increase in staff would, without a doubt, help. However, ironically, it were the colleges that have NOT piloted the new structure – Derwent and Halifax – that made the most progress over the last two years.

      PS York’s colleges will never be comparable to Cambridge, Oxford or, even, Durham. Nonetheless, they are becoming much more than halls again and are much more than colleges in some other collegiate Universities (e.g. Lancaster).

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