The issue of the cost of living for students in London has been big news recently. In May 2016, students staged a protest, withholding over £1 million in rent from landlords as an opposition to increased rents. They claimed that the increases were designed to push out the poorer students by pricing them out and making way for more wealthy students who could afford the excess rates. Stories about wealthy students living in luxury apartments and the less well off struggling to find anywhere to live in the city have become commonplace. Student loans don’t even come close to covering the cost of rents and some students are trying to juggle full-time work and studies to make ends meet.
There was even a story in the news about a student that commuted from Gdansk in Poland to Goldsmiths in London because it was cheaper. After noticing how cheap accommodation out there is and how cheap it was to fly, he realized that the 1000 mile journey and the cost of staying in Poland were significantly less than his rent in London. While that is an extreme example, it’s clear that a lot of students from less privileged backgrounds are struggling.
The action sparked a more general debate about how students living in London could survive the costs of going to university. As well as the high rent being charged by landlords, students have to face the cost of public transport to get to lectures and high food and drink costs. Some of the best universities in the country are in London but students from less wealthy families are increasingly turning away from them because they simply can’t afford to live nearby.
The people that have become the prime target of criticism about housing costs, in particular, are the universities themselves. The accommodation that is provided by them happens to be in the worst offenders group in terms of price hikes. Students that are coming from cities across the country struggle to organize their own accommodation outside of the university because of the distance limitations. They can’t be there to go on lots of viewings etc., especially as the cost of travelling back and forth to London is going to be high. The universities are accused of exploiting this fact and charging people inflated rents because they know that they have no alternative.
Finding private student rental that is not affiliated with the university is one of the best ways to make living in London as a student a lot more affordable. Of course, some of them will still charge you a lot in rent but there are other places, like Urbanest student accommodation London which give far more affordable options. By finding alternatives, students can reduce the cost of studying London, but high prices elsewhere still push out people from lower income families.
Unfortunately, this is just another symptom of a wider problem that affects everybody, not just students. There have been ideas raised about how to control rents for students in the city which could alleviate some of the pressure. However, the problem won’t go away entirely until the general issue with wealth division in the country is addressed.