Image: Wikimedia Commons / A J Paxton

Skyrocketing rents leave Warwick students facing greater housing difficulties than national average

Students across the country are facing greater housing difficulties than in previous years, a recent survey by Save the Student has found.

According to the website’s 2024 National Student Accommodation Survey, 64% of UK university students struggle with the cost of rent, and 2/5 students have considered dropping out of university altogether because of soaring accommodation costs.

The data follows recent below-inflation increases in maintenance loans, which have aggravated the financial burden on students studying during the current cost-of-living crisis.

In September 2023, the start of this academic year, The Boar reported that Warwick’s on-campus accommodation costs increased by an average of 6%. The maximum maintenance loan threshold at the time had increased by 2.8%, leaving many Warwick students financially worse off.

In January this year, the government announced that maintenance loans for the 2024/25 academic year will increase by 2.5%, in line with inflation forecasts. Considering last year’s figures, Save the Student says this year’s increase is “simply maintaining, if not widening, the real-terms gap created by previous forecasting errors.”

The cost-of-living crisis has created several calls for UK universities to alleviate the financial burden on students.

Recently, Martin Blakey, former Chief Executive of student housing charity Unipol, sent a proposal for UK universities to build smaller, more affordable accommodation, which could reduce rent by up to 30%.

However, the University of Warwick seems to be going in the other direction, as The Boar understands that in the next few years, the University intends to demolish Whitefields and build more expensive en-suite accommodation blocks in its place.

I’m priced out of nicer accommodation, so I’m living in Rootes which is very loud and claustrophobic

First-year Warwick student

In light of recent figures, surveys, and proposals to UK universities, The Boar obtained data from Warwick students to see how their accommodation situations align with the national average.

Save the Student’s survey says students pay an average of £550 per month. However, in a poll conducted by The Boar, less than 1/2 of Warwick students pay within £100 of this figure. Over 80% of respondents said they pay an amount larger than or equal to this figure, disproportionately the case for first-year students living on campus.

Over 70% of respondents said their mental health suffers because of rent and bills. One first-year student told The Boar that they feel compelled to live in a louder, busier accommodation block due to the high prices of quieter accommodation on campus.

Another student similarly told The Boar: “I’m priced out of nicer accommodation, so I’m living in Rootes which is very loud and claustrophobic.”

Respondents also spoke of how their studies were affected by accommodation issues. The most common issues students face are dampness, mould, and a lack of water and heating. Issues with dampness were particularly pertinent to those living in and around Canley.

Less than 1/3 of Warwick students said their maintenance loans covered the costs of rent

A first-year student spoke of the “unattainable” nature of accommodation for Warwick students. They said that whilst on the one hand on-campus accommodation is “incredibly overpriced”, when visiting properties in Canley in a bid to cut down on costs, they encountered houses that looked “genuinely unsafe to live in” due to severe mould and damp issues.

Less than 1/3 of Warwick students said their maintenance loans covered the costs of rent, over 10% lower than the national average, and over 80% turn to their parents to cover the remaining costs.

I feel it’s a case of the onus being put on the student to deal with it

Warwick student

In short, Warwick students are paying more than the average student for their rent. However, they generally lack the financial security from the UK government to fully cover it.

Issues with pests, unclear water, and disruptive building work were also rife among The Boar’s respondents, one of who told The Boar News team personally: “These issues seem to be becoming the norm for Warwick students. I have friends living in Leamington facing similar issues, and I feel it’s a case of the onus being put on the student to deal with it.”

Following these findings, The Boar has contacted the University of Warwick for comment.


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