Medway students have seen accommodation costs rise by a staggering 27% between 2009 and 2012, a new report by Kent Union has revealed.
The ‘Restrained by Rent’ report, unveiled this week by outgoing Kent Union welfare officer Colum McGuire, looks at how rent levels at the University of Kent’s accommodation on both the Medway and Canterbury campus has increased over the last few years.
In Medway, prices at Liberty Quays, the privately-managed halls provider for students studying on the Medway campus have increased from £3,900 a year in 2009/10 to just under £5,000 per year in 2012/13 – a 27% increase in the last three years.
Students living at Liberty Quays were paying £100 per week when the accommodation opened in 2009/10, but are now paying £127 a week – despite contracts being reduced from 42 weeks to 39 weeks.
The report states that students at Medway have a “complete lack of choice or variance in rent levels”, with “only one type of accommodation available and therefore only one type of rent which happens to be at a very high level”.
The study also highlighted the growing problems students are facing with Liberty Quays management.
The Medwire reported last year how alleged accusations of tampered fire extinguishers, unfair charges and mice infestations had led to a petition reaching over 150 signatures from disgruntled residents, and the departure of former manager Stephanie Triggs.
With the research and comments from students reviewed, the report recommends that the university “should note the concerns laid out regarding management of Liberty Quays.”
“The University must consider its position on accommodation at the Medway campus given the particularly high rents faced by its students there.
“The University should work closer with Liberty Living to ensure that Medway students receive a fair deal.”
The research, which took nearly a year to complete and features case studies of students and findings from the National Union of Students and other universities student unions, also looks at how student halls can have a detrimental impact on student welfare.
Speaking about the project, Colum said: “It’s been a huge project this year and one that for many years Kent Union has been working toward.
“We now have a real opportunity now to present the students case on sky rocket rents to the University like never before.
“I’m looking forward to how we can take this forward and create a positive impact for students.”
Other findings from the report found that rent in Canterbury has risen by 19.1% between September 2008 and September 2012, with a rise in cost not matching against levels of student support, which have remained almost stationary.
The average weekly rent for 2013/13 accommodation across the University of Kent is £136, compared with the national average of £118.49.
Kent Union now plans to work with the University in improving accommodation for students studying on both campuses.
The Medway Student Committee, which has already met with Liberty Quays on the issues raised by Kent students, is also planning to campaign on behalf of students.
Read the report in full here.