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.
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.”