Boar Investigates: Eating at Warwick

Popular perception appears to hold that the average day on campus, should one fail to pack a lunch, is a rather expensive affair. Recession or no, ‘tough times’ is a phrase every student is all too familiar with.

In light of this, the Boar investigated whether food outlets on campus are doing enough to offer students good value for their money.

One soon notices that some things are dearer on campus than elsewhere. A ‘beer and burger’ deal that would set you back £3.50 in Robbins Well in Leamington, costs £4.95 at ‘Graduate Grub’ in the Union.

Items are priced differently at the various outlets dotted around the Bubble. For example, a small cappuccino costs £1.50 at the Kami Lounge in the Union and £1.70 at VIVA. Coffee out of a vending machine costs about 60p anywhere on campus but £1.30 at the Rootes Restaurant.

The reason for price discrepancies, explained Stuart Thomson, President of the Students’ Union, is that food outlets on campus are not collectively owned by one body.

Those that are within the Union buildings such as Café Xanana and The Bread Oven are owned and managed by the Students’ Union, whereas all other outlets come under the auspices of the University.

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The former are aimed almost exclusively at students, but others like the Arts Centre Café cater to visitors as well. Stuart described the relationship between the Union and the University as being something of a “competitive partnership”.

The fact that the cafés in the library charge 50p for a cup of hot water is good enough reason to shop around. Just last term the same cup cost 10p; an inflation rate of 400 percent in a little over three months.

If that’s not enough reason for you to compare costs though, how about the thought that one could start a price war between the University and the Students Union?

The advantage of owning EAT cards, which require a minimum top-up of £20 to get you started, is a 10 percent discount on all food and drink on campus, including alcohol in the Rootes Bar. However, Union outlets do not accept EAT Cards due to having “the wrong tills” in place.

Also, if you were to lose a card with, say £20 on it, a replacement card with £15 on it (minus £5 for replacement charges) would be issued. If every time you lost £20, you were guaranteed £15 back, you would be pretty darned lucky.

The Boar calculated that an average week on one meal a day plus the odd filler ‘in-between-times’ on campus, will set you back about £20. This is about £200 a term and £600 a year. If you came here before 2006, and yes some of us did, that is about half the annual tuition fees.

Stuart Thomson talked of plans to soon compile what he called a ‘Campus Inflation Index’, in order to determine how much the average student spends on campus. This includes every expense a student incurs in the course of and as a result of their study, which would include books, food, societies, travelling to and from campus, feel free to add to the list.

The aim of the exercise is to determine where and how the Student Union can help reduce expenses. We look forward to that and welcome any other similar initiatives; including new tills in the Union. Ones that accept EAT Cards.

What this little fact-finding mission has highlighted most of all is that there is something for everyone on Warwick campus; whether you’re a smoothie-glugging beacon of health or quite the opposite.

You could buy a can of ‘baked beans and pork sausages’ from Costcutters for 49p or tuck into a £4.50 ‘all-you-can-fit-on-a plate-“within reason”’ mountain of gastronomical treats. So go forth armed with your knives and forks, explore and dig in.

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