The #RippedOff campaign has had a major success - the University have agreed to our calls to set up a group to make recommendation about differential pricing for accommodation! Here's an update on what else I want to achieve.
Last term my predecessor began the #RippedOff campaign aimed at cutting college costs, so that the cost of a collegiate experience does not shut out students from lower-income backgrounds. As a result the University has set up a Residential Accommodation Differential Pricing Group in order to make recommendations about differential pricing for accommodation. This is something offered at every other University in the country and allows greater student choice in accommodation, and I want to say a big thank you to all the students who signed the petition, shared the campaign online and got involved in campaigning on this issue. This has been a great sign that the University is willing to work with us.
Much of my focus this year with the #RippedOff campaign will be the disparity between cost and quality to ensure Durham students get what they pay for. The lack of differential pricing means that many students are paying the same as peers in another college, or different accommodation block, for a lower quality bedroom and facilities. While we recognise and love the different experiences that colleges offer, every Durham student should receive an equally amazing experience that reflects the high cost of coming to Durham.
Another key thing that I plan to address is the lack of transparency regarding where our accommodation fees go. It seems that we are funding a huge expansion while much of the estate sits in a state of disrepair. We also need to understand if our tuition fees are paying for services which we then pay for again through our Common Room levy.
I also want to change the University bursaries. While accommodation fees have risen, the Durham grant has been greatly reduced - we cannot risk Durham University becoming exclusionary to particularly groups of people. The Durham Grant needs to have more tiers to be able to help more people, and in a way that is appropriate to their financial situation.
You can find out more and follow the campaign on the Facebook page.