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Money made from student accommodation by Norwich university rises by 600% in five years

Barton and Hickling houses at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Picture: Archant staff

Barton and Hickling houses at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Picture: Archant staff

Archant

Money made from student accommodation at a Norwich university has risen sixfold over five years.

In the 2011/12 financial year, the surplus - after maintenance, depreciation and loan costs - from halls of residence at the University of East Anglia (UEA) was £834,155, a figure which increased by 600pc to £5.84m in 2016/17.

The university put the rise down to major growth in on-campus accommodation and said the money was reinvested into maintenance and future plans.

But, as fees also rise, the students’ union has warned that steep rents could make university unaffordable for poorer students.

On-campus accommodation fees range from £53 - an en-suite room shared with another student - up to £153 - an en-suite private room at its newest block - a week. Over the 38-week university year, it means costs range from £1,995 to £5,825.

A university spokesperson said: “Over the past three years UEA has directly invested £41.2m in building new on-campus student accommodation and the generation of surpluses allows us to finance, maintain and reinvest in our campus accommodation.

“The number of on-campus bedrooms at UEA has increased by 746 over the past three years and that increase in accommodation will be reflected in the increased surplus.”

Fees have also increased - three years ago, staying in one of the university’s en-suite campus blocks would have cost £4,878 for the year. Now, it costs £5,418 - an 11pc rise.

With rents due to increase by 3pc in 2018/19, the students’ union has launched an All I Want for Christmas is Fair Rent campaign, which calls on UEA to freeze the figures.

In a blog post, Jack Robinson, campaigners and democracy officer, said rising rents could be “corrosive”.

He said: “The university isn’t lying when it says that the money funds the student experience. But there has to be a balance when taking that money from students simultaneously harms their student experience.”

But UEA said building industry inflation is currently at more than 5pc, and that the income covered long-term costs as well as annual. They said the university had worked closely with union officers to reduce planned rent increases.

Last September, the £30m Barton and Hickling Houses were opened, providing 514 new rooms, while another 244 will be created at All Saints Green in the city centre next September.

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