Student village to grow in £23 million project, as UWE increases its yearly profit from accommodation and catering by £1.5 million.
UWE has made £18.8 million profit from residences and catering alone, increasing the yearly budget surplus to £14.2 million.
Students continue to foot the bill for the highly priced accommodation, as hundreds of new bedrooms are to be built on UWE’s Frenchay campus as part of a £23 million development to transform the university.
Wallscourt Park, which was built last year to house 396 students, will see 550 more bedrooms being added to the complex.
WesternEye estimates it will generate additional £2.75 million net income for the university, without deducting the running costs.
William Marshall, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Commercial Director and Corporation Secretary) at UWE, said: “Wallscourt Park offers a variety of good quality accommodation for students. The first phase of Wallscourt Park has been a great success.”
However, the success comes with high accommodation costs, which average £560 a month at UWE-owned housing. With a maximum £3,387 maintenance grant and £5,878 maintenance loan, students are spending on average 60% of it on accommodation.
Conservative government announced on January 14 the cutting of maintenance grant to the poorest 500,000 students. It will make student housing unaffordable for most, leaving students £260 to live on a month.
“My room was nice, but I paid way more to live in that flat, than I’ve ever paid to live in a house,“ said Ali, business management and marketing student at UWE – “I know there are lots of benefits living in the student village – but paying a stupid amount of money isn’t one of them.”
Ravinder Bisla, Deputy Director in Facilities at the University, said: “The rent setting policy at UWE Bristol is to break even.”
According to SU President Jack Dolson, UWE is able to maintain high accommodation due to high demand of UWE’s over 30,000 students. “The high costs for accommodation are due to the low amount [of housing] available. With the building of new accommodation year on year, this should see rent prices decrease,” stated Jack Polson.
UWE, however, increased its yearly profit from accommodation and catering by £1.5 million in financial year 2014/2015.
“We also review what private providers such as Unite will be charging in the city centre,” added Ravinder Bisla.
Bristol has seen 18% rent rises, according to The Guardian, as private sector failed to provide affordable student housing – prices for Unite student accommodation run upwards of £480 a month.
“The new developments (Wallscourt Park), were developed with [affordability] as the primary objective. Rents levels in Wallscourt park are significantly lower than the student village, by about £30 per week,” added Ravinder.
Some students are happy to enjoy the benefits provided by the high-standard of UWE accommodation. “Living in student village, while being costly, is incredibly convenient. Not only are the rooms homely and comfortable, but living a 3 minute walk away from my lecture halls was enough to justify spending as much as I did,” said Felix, computer science student at UWE.
“The university is non-profit making. Surpluses are invested into the student experience,” said Ravinder.