Durham college accommodation prices have risen at rates higher than inflation

The university has announced that college accommodation costs will be rising by 6.3 per cent

Durham University has announced that college accommodation prices will rise by 6.3 per cent for the 2024/2025 academic year, a rate that is higher than inflation.

According to Palatinate calculations, a standard catered college room with a shared bathroom will cost students £9,745.

This increase means that students receiving the full Student Maintenance Loan in England will only have £233 left for their other expenses (it should be noted that Palatinate’s calculations are based on the 2023/2024 student Maintenance Loan figures as 2024/2025 figures have not yet been released).

Self-catered rooms with a shared bathroom will cost £6,805.50 and ensuite rooms will cost £7,429.50 for a 39 week let.

In February 2023, Save the Student, a website providing students impartial financial advice, estimated that the average students spends £535 a month (£133.75 a week) on rent.

Palatinate’s calculations show that Durham students are spending double this, with standard self-catered rooms costing £40.75 more a week and ensuite self-catered rooms costing £56.75 more a week.

Josephine Butler College accommodation consists of only ensuite self-catered rooms, meaning students are seemingly forced to pay double the averages Save the Student calculated.

Durham University standard self-catered rooms have seen a 55 per cent price increase since 2014/15, totalling an increase of £3456.60 in the last decade. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, prices have increased by 32 per cent since 2015, meaning that college accommodation costs have risen at rates higher than inflation.

As a result of this increase, the weekly catering charge has risen to £98 for the 30 weeks of term (this equates to £4.67 per meal while in 2022/2023 the price per meal was £3.95).

Save the Student estimated that, on average, a student spends £31 on groceries a week; Durham University charges three times this average (it should be noted that this does include staff costs associated with the production of student meals).

What’s more, nine out the 17 undergraduate colleges do not have self-catered options, meaning that students have no choice but to pay £2,940 for catering. The Palatinate have reported that food variety and quantity have been cut this academic year despite price increases: desserts are now served weekly instead of daily and sandwich options were removed at lunches.

UK home students receiving the maximum Maintenance Loan will also be eligible for the Durham Grant, which has increased by 6.7 per cent. UK home students who are not eligible for the Durham Grant can receive a maximum Maintenance Loan of £6,812, this will only just cover the £6,805.50 cost of a standard self-catered room according to Palatinate calculations.

Shorter and term only contracts are offered by Durham University which decreases the cost from £9,745 to £8,655 but contracts are limited, are not available on demand and only four colleges offer them (University College, Hatfield, Collingwood and Grey Colleges).

In communication with Palatinate, Durham University has claimed that the average private rent increase was around 10 to 15 per cent this year and that their increase is well below this average. According to Durham University calculations, they are responsible for 38 per cent of accommodation options in DH1 and by 2027, plan to increase this to 45 per cent.

From the 2015 student protests outside the Bill Bryson library to the 2017 Students’ Union Ripped-Off campaign, issues surrounding accommodation costs have persisted for Durham University students for the past decade.

Feature image via Emphyrio, used under the Pixabay Content License

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