Why We’re Campaigning for Lower Rents at UCL

by Angus O’Brien, UCLU Halls Accommodation Officer

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you either live in UCL halls or have done so recently. It is likely, then, that you  know just how expensive it is – this year, the average cost per week of a room in UCL accommodation is £176, which is £7031.59 for the full year. This year, the very cheapest single room is £135.59 per week, coming to well over half the
entire loan available to students – if you are eligible for the full amount.

Yet six years ago, the picture was almost entirely different. In this time, rent has increased by an average of almost 56% – students are paying an average of £2484.94 more per year, and the cheapest room at UCL has increased by more than £40 weekly, from £94.01 per week.

So, are these rapid, high rent increases justified? The short answer is no – inflation has caused prices to rise by 19.8%
since 2009, and student income has only increased by 12% to 16%, depending on income bands.

Alongside this, UCL will be running a surplus of £15,779,000 from accommodation during this academic year, enough to fund a rent cut of almost 45% without affecting the running of halls.

20150327_153556
Winning affordable rent requires action! Last year we organised a tent protest to highlight rising rent costs and demand an end to the increases.

We as students of UCL have decided that enough is enough – UCL cannot continue to raise the rent in halls as it wishes, ignoring the rapidly decreasing level of affordability. Living in halls now is almost impossible without financial assistance on top of your student loan and maintenance grant (including the UCL bursary!).

UCL cannot pretend to offer equal opportunities to students from all sections of society when the sky-high cost of living constitutes an unofficial entry requirement based on your financial position.

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Occupying the Provost’s balcony to highlight UCL’s unaffordable rents and tell the Provost what we think about them!

Asking nicely won’t make UCL accommodation affordable – your help is required to run the campaign to hold UCL to account.

Join us for this year’s first regular campaign meeting on Wednesday, 7th October and for more information on how to get involved check out facebook.com/uclcuttherent

The Union has handed out information about students' rights in English and Mandarin Chinese.
Campaigns also involve a lot of communication, logistics and and letter-writing – that’s part of how the Hawkridge House rent strike was won.
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