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Durham students lead fight against accomodation fees

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Earlier this month, members of Durham University's Labour Club occupied the Palatine Centre in protest of hiking accommodation fees.

The centre, which accommodates the staff offices, has been under construction for the past two years.

In the lead to Christmas, the 'Ripped Off' campaign launched by Durham Students' Union, asked students how the cost of living made them feel. 

The responses were then published online with students revealing that they felt 'guilty' and 'disgusted' by the costs.

A resident from Hilde Bede College revealed the accommodation costs made them feel 'so guilty because my family has to cut back so much for me.'  

The campaign was launched in response to the rising residential fees at Durham University.

According to a petition from two years ago, the accommodation fees for a single, self-catered ensuite was £5336 for the years 2017 and 2018. 

Earlier this academic year, the university announced that costs will rise by 3.5% for 2019/20.

The updated accommodation cost for a single ensuite room (within the self-catering residence) is £5,708 for the 2018/2019 academic year - excluding induction or congregation week. 

A student who chose not to reveal their college wrote to Vice-Chancellor Stuart Corbridge saying they did not feel welcome as a working-class student. 

'The cost of living in college,' another wrote 'makes me feel as a soon to be Durham alumnus that people from my area thinking of university should attend a uni other than Durham University. The blatant disregard for people from lower income families is disgusting.'

The petition, now closed, requested that Durham freeze their accommodation fees until a review was concluded. It also requested that the uni commits to 'an extensive review' of those costs, consult students on pricing options and provide better transparency on what the fees are spent on.

Durham published plans to expand its student body 'to a maximum of 21,500' by 2027. Currently, there are 17,505 students. The addition of 4,000 more students has raised questions as to whether the uni is driven by economic objectives rather than educational ones. 

More to follow

Image Credit: Les Hull / Palatine Centre, Durham University, Stockton Road 




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