‘UEA should take the hit’: Anger over students paying double for rooms

Ziggurat accommodation at the University of East Anglia. Picture: EDP Library

Ziggurat accommodation at the University of East Anglia. Picture: EDP Library - Credit: Archant

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been accused of “palming off the cost of coronavirus on students”, who are having to pay double the expected price of rooms.

Anger has erupted over the cost of accommodation at the Ziggurat halls of residence at the UEA.

Twin rooms which would normally be shared between two people have been given to single students to maintain social distancing.

But they have been told to pay the full room rate of £158.90 a week instead of the usual shared price of £79.45.

This is £40 more than the cost of a standard room in the same halls of residence.

A UEA spokesperson said: “It wouldn’t be fair to other students in other standard Ziggurat accommodation to charge a cheaper rate for these particular rooms.”

But it has sparked outrage among students - who have set up a petition with nearly 900 signatures.

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It says the students affected did not choose twin rooms and were not warned beforehand these rooms could be allocated.

Matthew Fulton-McAlister, Labour councillor for the University ward, said: “It is absolutely appalling that students who have signed up for single-room accommodation are being forced to pay for a twin room. They should have been given the option to select twin and if they had made that choice not expected to foot the bill.

“Coronavirus and all of its costs should be spread equally among society. The university should not palm off the cost of the pandemic onto students. It is difficult time for everybody but the university needs to take the financial hit.

“Students are already facing less face-to-face tuition and therefore a lower quality of service so it is not fair to pay more. I would welcome a meeting with the university to discuss this with local councillors.”

A UEA spokesperson said: “We have written to those students with concerns and explained that the price is the equivalent price for an en-suite room and therefore reflects the significant amount of extra floor space. This room type is our largest single room.

“We have updated the information on the room offer letter so that it explains the pricing structure more clearly and where students are still unhappy we will help them to find alternative accommodation.”