Trinity College has announced in the last week their intentions to change their current accommodation system to introduce differential room pricing.
Currently, all rooms are the same price, regardless of size, location, en-suite or any other divergent factors. The College have now decided to introduce a more “fair” system, which colleges such as Exeter College employ, whereby rooms are priced on the basis of their individual merits. This would give students the opportunity to choose, to some extent, what facilities they want by deciding how much they are willing to pay.
JCR President, Andy Butler, sent around an email to students, stating, “The good news is that I have received confirmation that this change will make no difference to current students. So the first year housing ballot remains the same and you will all receive a flat rate.”
Currently this flat rate is £1,256.54 per term, but the College want to change this to offer a choice to students from lower income families. Although they will almost certainly introduce differential pricing, the final figures and bands have not yet been announced.
A general meeting was called on Monday 18th February where a resultant survey was held for all students to share their opinions on the room pricing issue. Butler told Cherwell, “Of the 139 students that answered the survey, 72% were against differential pricing, 22% were for it and 6% didn’t know.
“An even larger amount (77% of students) felt that differential pricing would cause social segregation. However, 19% of students said their financial situation would be significantly improved by differential pricing, which is quite a notable proportion.”
The survey asked for students’ thoughts on the principal of differential pricing, what gap should be enforced between highest and lowest priced rooms, what ideal features should determine the pricing, whether their own financial situation would be aided by differential pricing and what they thought about the prospect of “ghettoisation” caused by rich students in one block and poorer ones in another.
Estates Bursar Kevin Knott informed Cherwell that the issue of introducing differential pricing has been an ongoing process with the student body and that the College had had a presentation from the student governing body last February.
Nevertheless, the belief that the College has acted without the student body’s consent has caused some controversy within the College. Butler commented, “Most disappointing to the student body is the lack of consultation before this policy was implemented. It was discussed in the reserved section of the college’s governing body meeting which sees the JCR and MCR Presidents leave the room.
“Although the student body has been consulted in the previous two years about differential pricing (which measured 74% against two years ago and 68% against last year), this year’s student body and JCR committee were not consulted.”
Nevertheless, Butler agreed that the Estates Bursar had been forthcoming in listening to the students when the practicalities of room pricing and its implementation had been discussed.
Knott told Cherwell that the College were “not entirely clear” as to why the students did not support room pricing. He said, “The College has, for many years, charged differential rents on its outside properties. Given the variety of accommodation on the main site and the desirability of giving students the choice as to how they spend their funds, whether on accommodation or otherwise, the same approach is being adopted for the main Broad Street site.”
The implementation of this new approach is currently being settled with the student body.