Lancaster University’s Finance and General Purposes Committee has approved a 2.5% increase in campus rent, and a five per cent increase in tuition fees for postgraduates and overseas students. Efforts by student representatives to postpone the rise, pending wider consultation with students and departments about the potential impacts of these increases, were voted down by the University Council, which ratified the rise last Friday.
Vote with your feet
Students are contemplating action. In the meantime, may we remind the more enterprising of them that it works out significantly cheaper to rent shared houses off-campus. From what we have seen on facebook etc, there is probably a bit less risk of theft and of sexual harassment too. Your house is your castle.
But perhaps the most obvious difference is the sense of real life. Of living outside the concrete shelter among people of different ages, backgrounds and lifestyles. Of managing your own life and learning the pleasures and pitfalls of householding.
A significant part of the city's population are ex-student or employed at the universities, and there is locally a general sense of protective tolerance towards the students living among us (even if they can be a bit ear-splittingly screechy as they flock together in doorways of a night time).
You will not get a better chance to learn how to run your own home. Students who stay captive in the sheltered housing projects of the institution for the full 3 years of their stay at Lancaster will leave little wiser in these skills and potentially a lot more likely to end up by default living back with their parents.
For myself, I can say that the friends I shared a house with in my second year I got on fine with and we had a lot of fun. But the friends I shared with in my third year I really loved - and still do - and they have remained my close friends across the long-haul distances we ended up living apart during various periods of our lives.
If you fancy taking the plunge next year it's time to start thinking about who you might like to share with. The trick is look at the people you get on easily with and try to imagine that, if you fell out with them, how mean could they get? You need people who can stay good even in bad times. Also, if they live in squalor on campus, they will bring that squalor with them. And you'll lose your deposit.
In the New Year is a good time to start looking around at areas and places and getting clear what you're looking for. Most rental contracts for next October will be signed by Easter. The Lancaster University Homes section of the Uni's accommodation office has a list of approved tenancies, and you can find a list of local letting agents with searchable websites in the Virtual-Lancaster property pages too.
So, good luck, and maybe we'll see you next year.