Rent strike highlights students’ plight but many young people are worse off

montage 7Students at UCL are holding a rent strike to try to force the university to cut accommodation charges. They want their rent at halls of residence reduced by 40%.

The group UCL Cut the Rent says that collectively they are withholding £250,000 until their demand is met.  They say that rents have increased by 56% since 2009 and accuse the university of profiteering.

The group says that many students struggle to pay the rent, pushing them into debt and poverty which affects their studies.  While students may be struggling financially, the plight of young people trying to find affordable housing in the capital is a wider issue and the data for earnings and private rents shows that there may be many who are worse off than students.

The rent for a single room at UCL’s Max Rayne House student accommodation in Camden is £135.59 per week.  This is inclusive of bills such as heating, water rates and council tax.   At Ramsay Hall in Bloomsbury the weekly, single room rent is £209.79, and the rent here includes bills plus breakfast and dinner each weekday.

These fees may be beyond the reach of students, but if they were renting in the private sector in Camden they would be facing far higher rents.

The latest data from the Valuation Office Agency, which advises the government on property and rental values, shows that the median rent for a room in a shared house in Camden is £683 per month, or £157 weekly.

Some cheaper options may be available.  VOA data shows the rent in the cheapest 25% of property is £628 a month or £144 weekly.  These rents do not include any of the bills a person has to meet in private accommodation.

There is no doubt that a student with a maximum maintenance loan of £10,702 will struggle to live in London.  The loan is intended to cover living expenses for term time plus the Christmas and Easter holidays, as most students work over the summer. A maximum loan means an income of £267 for 40 weeks.  The rent, inclusive of bills, at Max Rayne House would absorb 50% of this income.

Most students supplement their loan income by working part time. A survey by Endsleigh Insurance of 4,600 students puts monthly earnings on average at £316 or a little over £70 a week.

For those not in education, someone over 21 earning minimum wage who is working full time, 40 hours per week, earns a gross salary of £13,936. Across the year that equates to £268 per week.  Renting a room in a shared house in one of the cheaper Camden properties would take up 53% of their gross earnings. After tax and and national insurance the net earnings would be closer to £230 per week, so the rent would be 62% of income. Then there are the bills on top.

For 18-20 year-olds, earnings are lower with the minimum wage at £5.30 an hour giving a weekly income of £212.  Once again, this would be subject to tax meaning net earnings of around £192.

People on minimum wage may be eligible for some support. The government’s recommended benefits calculator suggests that a 21-year-old working full time for minimum wage, living in a shared house in Camden would receive housing benefit of around £30 a week.

Cheaper accommodation can be found in other parts of the city. The VOA data suggests that the cheapest boroughs for renting a room in a shared house are Greenwich, Bromley, Croydon and Lambeth. But a lack of affordable housing for young people has meant that many remain living with parents or return to do so after further education.

As previously reported by Urbs, the proportion of people aged 20-34 living with parents has climbed to 24%.

living with parents

The rent strikers of UCL have highlighted the struggle for students faced with the cost of living in London.  They are undoubtedly finding it tough but life for the poorly paid young people who are not in education may be even tougher.

Valuation Office Agency source data

See also

Universities climb world rankings, but here’s how they score against the best

More “affordable” homes but the rents prove unaffordable for many

Where are all the young people? The in-out flow of 20-something Londoners

Universities marked down by their own students

Universities climb world rankings, but here’s how they score against the best

Imperial College, London's highest ranking university

Imperial College, London’s highest ranking university

London has 7 universities in the top 200 in the world and 4 of them are in the top 30. The annual rankings by Times Higher Education showed an improved performance this year with Imperial College going up a place to 8th and UCL breaking into the top 20 at 14th.

The LSE climbed 9 places to 23 and the improvement was even greater for Kings College, rising from 40 to 27th. Queen Mary broke into the top 100 at 98 and St George’s held on at 196th. The only London institution in the top 200 to fall back was Royal Holloway down to 129 from 118 last year.

The rankings are drawn up using 13 performance indicators split into 5 areas: teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income. The detailed scoring in each category and some of the statistics about each university show where London institutions are doing well and where they are not able to compete with the best in the country, currently ranked by Times Higher Education as Oxford, and the best in the world, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

In the category of teaching the judges examined data from a reputation survey and looked at the staff to student ratios at each institution.

While the score for teaching at Imperial is close to Oxford, and not that far behind at UCL, after that the gap opens up between the UK’s best and London’s other top 30 universities. Caltech has a clear lead.

University rankings teaching

UCL is London’s best perfomer in the research criteria, judged on reputation and income. None can compete with Oxford, not even Caltech.

University rankings research

There’s better news for Imperial when it comes to the influence of the research. It scores highly for citations for published work, as do all London’s top 4.

Perhaps it is not surprising that universities in London, a leading global city, should do well in the international outlook area. Imperial out-performs Oxford and UCL matches it. All 4 trounce Caltech in this category.

University rankings internat

But the area where London’s universities lag behind is in winning industry income. Involvement in innovation, invention and consulting projects is, according to the judges, becoming a core mission for academic institutions.

There’s a big gap here between the Oxford and London’s best but Caltech, home of the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is clear winner. For once, it seems, the answer really is rocket science.

Source data

See also

Universities marked down by their own students

London leads in places for poorer students

 

 

 

 

 

 

Universities marked down by their own students

hStudents in London rate their universities as bottom of the league in rankings based on their own satisfaction and experience.

In a national survey involving 15,000 students at 113 institutions London universities were in the bottom 6 places, and 15 of the last 20 in the rankings were in London.

Students were asked to look at 21 criteria which included quality of teaching, facilities, community atmosphere and extracurricular actives. London universities scored below average in all criteria and fared particularly badly for sports facilities, societies and social life.

East London University copyBottom of the list is the University of East London.  UEL is based on 3 sites, 2 in Stratford and 1 in Docklands, and has 19,000 students.  It was established as a university in 1992.  Just above UEL are 2 other newer universities, London Metropolitan University and the University of West London. Only the Royal Veterinary College (25) and UCL (28) made it into the top 50.  Imperial is at number 54.

Institution Ranking (out of 113) Score (out of 100)
University of Westminster 108 65.4
City University 109 64.8
University of the Arts 110 64.5
University of West London 111 62.3
London Metropolitan 112 60.7
University of East London 113 59

Bath University came top with a score of 83 out of a possible 100.  Loughborough, Sheffield, Oxford and Cambridge made up the rest of the top 5.

Campus universities generally did well in the survey but this does not fully explain the poor showing in London as Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, all city based, are in the top 10.

While the newer London institutions have done badly in this survey they scored highly in a separate study for awarding places to students from disadvantaged families, as reported here by Urbs.

The Student Experience Survey 2015 was carried out by YouthSight on behalf of Times Higher Education.

Source data

London leads in places for poorer students

London’s newer universities are leading the way in providing opportunities for students from under-privileged backgrounds.

Across England around a third of students come from poorer families. But data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency looking at participation of under-represented groups in UK universities found that 7 of London’s universities take 50% or more.

Students copyThe London role of honour is:

  • Institute of Education (64%)
  • University of Greenwich (56%)
  • Middlesex University (56%)
  • University of East London (54%)
  • London Metropolitan (53%)
  • London South Bank (51%)
  • University of Westminster (50%)

These universities also have a very high level of students from state rather than independent schools, above the national average of 90%.

London has the second highest proportion of independent schools in the country (as reported by Urbs) and there is a marked variation in student admissions from the state sector in London. This ranges from all places going to state educated pupils at Middlesex to just over a third at the Royal Academy of Music. The smaller specialist colleges take far more students from the independent sector.

The more established London institutions that have become global brands, such as LSE, UCL and Kings, have about two thirds of students from the state sector, which is in line with the intake at Oxford and Cambridge.

 Source data