Victory for Balliol JCR in finance dispute

News

College accepts JCR/MCR proposal for series of alternatives to Domus charge

Joanna Kozlowska

Balliol students and the College authorities reached an agreement on Friday to prevent the imposition of a controversial ‘domus charge’ proposed in November.

The College has agreed to replace an additional charge for Balliol’s general maintenance by alternative solutions devised jointly by the JCR and MCR, and to present annual financial reviews to students.

The original charge was to be payable by all students starting their courses from October 2011 onwards, including those living out of college. The students responded with proposals to alter specific domestic charges, accepted by the College authorities on Friday.

‘“This is a fantastic conclusion to cooperation between college and students. I am delighted about the outcome and think it’s a fantastic depiction of how students and college body can work together to achieve a mutual goal”, said Steve Dempsey, Balliol JCR President.

Dempsey and MCR President Eleanor Grant wrote a paper outlining possible alternatives to the domus charge, which said: ‘‘Given the Higher Education Funding changes, to impose a domus charge would have a negative impact on the access of poorer prospective students to the College and the welfare of students once they are members of Balliol, at a time of significant uncertainty both for students and educational institutions’’, they stated.

The paper, drafted after a series of surveys among Balliol students, recommended alterations to various domestic charges, as well as the reduction of JCR and MCR transfers and Balliol’s Student Hardship programme.

Eleanor Grant, the MCR president, said that the outcome ‘’demonstrated the cooperative environment apparent at Balliol’’.

She added: ‘’The alternatives generate necessary revenue, given the uncertain financial period, but with greatly reduced financial impact on the students.”

One 3rd year Classical Archaeology and Ancient History student said: “I am glad the JCR decided to take a stance. The College’s reaction demonstrated respect towards the students. This is surely a positive outcome to the discussions.”

The plan for an extra charge was proposed this November to the ‘’disappointment” of many students. The Master of the College justified the plans based on the insufficiency of Balliol’s endowment and the need for extra revenue.

A research group set up by students calculated that their alternatives would generate approximately £60,000 more in the first year than a domus charge.

The initial proposal followed pay freezes for the College staff, the reduction of Fellows’ allowances and the freezes of some academic and non-academic posts.