Undergraduates spend 80% of income on rent

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The Independent Online

Students living outside London in university and college accommodation are paying more than 83 per cent of their weekly income in rent, says a survey published today.

Those in London are not much better off: they are having to pay more than 80 per cent in rent, says the survey from the National Union of Students. They have to fund food, travel, books, course costs and entertainment out of the remainder of their income.

Yesterday, the union said that students, already paying tuition fees and taking out loans for living costs, had to spend a higher proportion of their income than any other group in society on housing.

The average weekly rent for all types of accommodation provided by universities and colleges in 1999/2000 was £58.46. That was an increase of 5 per cent - double inflation - on the previous year.Weekly rents in private flats and houses were slightly cheaper: £51.89.

Andrew Pakes, the union's president, said: "Students are surely the only group in society who are obliged to spend 80 per cent of their income on housing. The figures show clearly why one in five students fails to complete their course."

He referred to proposals being considered by leading universities to charge students top-up fees as well as the existing tuition fees. "The Government needs to act to relieve the debt-ridden future faced by our students. They need to follow Scotland's lead in abolishing tuition fees, categorically rule out top-up fees and provide extra support for increasing maintenance costs."

The survey found that the highest weekly rents for self-catering accommodation were at the University of Westminster (£71.68 on average) while the lowest were at Gwent Tertiary College (£28).