Students "living in poverty as a result of expensive halls" at University of Aberdeen
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Last month Aberdeen University Students´ Association launched Aberdeen: Cut the Rent, a campaign to force the university administration to curb the price of accommodation. Between an online and physical petition, they have so far gathered over 1,300 signatures. This move from AUSA follows building pressure from the student body, many of whom are struggling to cope with the increasing costs of first year life in Aberdeen. Lewis Macleod, Communities Officer at AUSA, cited previous student-led campaigns as inspiration, saying “the success of rent strikers at UCL certainly demonstrates that, through direct action, we can win. “Over the last five years the cheapest halls have increased from £69 per week to £99 per week […] The awful reality is that students are living in poverty as a result of expensive halls, and it is essential the University listen to the demands of its students by cutting and capping the rent.” “The University of Aberdeen recommends students should work no more than 16 hours a week, yet with such expensive halls of residence, many have no other option.” In a statement from their press office, Aberdeen University replied to the campaign by saying that some of their most affordable accommodation has decreased in price or stayed the same in the last five years, with some minor increases in weekly rate. “The cost of our self-catered accommodation has remained in line with our competitors and our prices are similar to other major Scottish unis, including Strathclyde, RGU and Edinburgh University.” While this statement is undoubtedly true in relation to price range alone, what sets Aberdeen apart from most of its competitors is its average cost of halls (102% of the standard student loan). For instance the cheapest and most expensive halls in Aberdeen are similarly priced to their Edinburgh counterparts, but Edinburgh offers many rooms at less than £100 a week, whereas at £99 a week Hillhead is the only accommodation offered by Aberdeen at this level. The only competitor mentioned in the university's press release with a similar average rent is Robert Gordon University – as the only other university in Aberdeen it could easily be argued that these prices are representative of the city´s housing crisis. But with doubt being cast on the future of the oil industry the property market seems to be on the decline, with a 20% decrease in house prices being recorded between 2015 and 2016.
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