Worcester split over proposed rent increases

News

Infighting has erupted in Worcester’s JCR over a College-proposed increase in rent.

The College Provost proposed last month to raise prices for College accommodation by about five percent over inflation. The fee will be decided at a meeting next week.

JCR President Ella Miller has come out in support of the College’s proposal.

“At the moment, College are very, very poor because we have a small endowment, and they’ve just spent a lot of money investing in lots of very nice new buildings.

“If, as the figures suggest, Worcester students are currently paying less than many others for their very nice rooms, I feel it is appropriate that rents are slightly increased for the coming year.”

Miller headed a JCR subcommittee that solicited student opinions on the fee increases. She said that students mostly reacted well to the proposed fee increase: “Worcester students at the moment feel they are getting a lot for their money with their rooms.”

But the JCR Secretary, Alex Short, said the proposed fee increase was too much.

“We’re planning to put forward arguments against [the rent increase] but we haven’t got any specific actions planned,” he said.

MCR President Jamie Frost also said his common room members are unhappy with the proposed figure and are negotiating with Worcester.

The JCR, MCR and College administration are set to meet on 11th June to set the final accommodation fee.

Louise Benski, a second year at the College said: “For any student, rent increases are not favourable and it seems unfair to burden students with the college’s financial hardships.”

Worcester faced an operating deficit of nearly £1.3 million last year as a result of a drop in alumni contributions. Its endowment also fell by nearly a tenth to £16.3 million last year.

Some have criticised Worcester spending on building projects over the past few years while increasing the College deficit.

A bursar at another college earlier this year said Worcester “have become accustomed to living on windfalls and living beyond their means”.

Benski, the Worcester student said: “Students ought to be told which other measures have been put in place to cut back on expenditure before rent charges are increased.”

Worcester College officials, including the Provost and Estates Bursar, were unavailable to comment on this article.