The University’s Planning and Resources Committee recently approved a joint proposal from the president of the Students’ Association and the director of residential and business services that will substantially alter the way in which students access accommodation bursaries.
Under the current framework, three halls of residence (Albany Park, Andrew Melville and Fife Park) are designated as subsidised residences, with the aim of ensuring that financially disadvantaged students are able to secure inexpensive, University-maintained accommodation. At present, however, the University subsidises all students in these halls by a fixed amount, with no distinction between the differing financial circumstances of the residents.
The new system from 2014/15 aims to give financially disadvantaged students the possibility of living at any University maintained hall of residence, with the bursary being applied as a discount to that residence’s stated fees. Financial assistance will be means-tested, restricting access to those who meet stated criteria. Projections for 2014/15 predict a bursary fund of £368,000, up from £163,000 in 2013/14 (a 126 per cent increase).
Students will apply for the bursary at the same time as their chosen hall, ensuring students will know if they can afford to stay in their chosen accommodation.
Separately, undergraduate residence fees for 2014-15 have been confirmed. The University’s projected operating costs are forecast to rise 2.9 per cent, hence rental increases for most residences of between 2.85 and 2.88 per cent. The exceptions are the currently subsidised residences, which face heftier rental increases up to 2017 as their subsidies are gradually eliminated in line with the new bursary system.
For 2014/15, accommodation fees for Andrew Melville are set to increase by 6.36 – 6.37 per cent, Albany Park faces a rental fee increase of 9.93 per cent, while Fife Park will be closed in 2014/15 for redevelopment.
Further details regarding qualification criteria for 2014/15 accommodation bursaries are due to be released by the University in the near future.