Edinburgh student leader in warning over cost of city living

Edinburgh University Pollock Halls of residence
Edinburgh University Pollock Halls of residence
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THE President of Edinburgh University Students’ Association is calling for talks over the cost of living in the city, warning some academics may be forced to quit their studies because of the expense.

Patrick Kilduff says more support is needed, possibly even a London style “weighting” scheme.

And he said: “There’s a cost of living crisis facing students in Edinburgh and nobody is talking about it. Edinburgh is the most expensive city in the country for students to live in, according to the Royal Bank of Scotland. Even though life in the city is so expensive, student loan funding from government remains static.

“It is a tale of two cities and two capitals. In London students receive weighted, higher government funding to reflect higher levels of expense; should Edinburgh not receive the same?

“The Scottish government says universities need to do more to attract students from the most deprived parts of Scotland, the target is 20 per cent by 2030; yet in the seat of government in Holyrood’s back garden there is a critical problem.

“We hear concerns from MPs, MSPs and councillors about the impact of students moving into different parts of the city on the sense of community; we want just as great a sense of community, affordability, to integrate and to feel pride in our home as much as any other Edinburgh resident.”

He added: “The rise of expensive private built student accommodation (PBSA) in the last five years has worsened this. PBSA becomes an agent of gentrification and their astronomic rent stops students from being able to spend locally.

The Mayor of London’s guidance for student accommodation states student housing should be affordable, and it’s reasonable for students to spend up to 55 per cent of their income on housing. In Edinburgh, our research has shown that a student receiving the maximum financial support living in PBSA would be spending up to 90 per cent of this on housing.

“These developments pretend £249 per week is somehow a deal for students, perpetuating the idea students in Edinburgh can and should afford much more than in other cities. We can’t.”

Students have started taking matters into their own hands, as evidenced by the rise of the Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative.

He said the Housing Co-Op was the largest of its kind in Europe, and was “combating extortionate rents head-on” with a monthly £320 versus the average £449 for private flats, but had huge waiting lists.

And he went on: “These issues have immeasurable effects on our mental health, our performance in studying, our wellbeing; I see students questioning whether to carry on at Edinburgh let alone come in the first place and action needs to be taken to end this.

“I believe now is the time action needs to be taken so students stop taking the strain, stop having to work several jobs just to live whilst doing a degree. There is a cost of living crisis facing students in Edinburgh and it’s time we start talking about it.”

shaun.milne@jpress.co.uk