Private hall will cost £10,000 a year

10
Photo credit: Terry Lee

The Students’ Association has delivered a damning assessment of a private accommodation service after it chose to charge students annual fees of more than £10,000 for a self-catered room.

The Student Housing Company, whose new private accommodation Ayton House, located next to the harbour and due to open in September, will charge students £210 per week on a 51 week lease for its Super Deluxe Suite, totalling £10,710.

The most basic room available, the Standard Ensuite which is also self-catered, carries a £8,415 price tag which will set students back £165 per week over 51 weeks. By contrast, a catered room in McIntosh Hall costs £5,945 while a catered ensuite in David Russell Apartments [DRA] carries a price of £7,423.

When asked what sets Ayton House apart from University accommodation, a Student Housing Company representative told The Saint: “It’s a bit like Marks and Spencer and Asda,” a reference to the British high-end retailer and budget supermarket.

In an interview with The Saint, Pat Mathewson, Association President, revealed that a focus group urged the accommodation provider to reconsider the price but without success. “Frankly, we believe they’ve misjudged the market they are entering into,” he said.

“In an effort to convey this message, along with a range of issues at the heart of the student experience, the Students’ Association arranged a focus group of approximately 25 students to speak directly to the developers.

“The current price point was flagged to them as a major issue by nearly everyone around the table. If they hope to live up to their name, The Student Housing Company should take on board the concerns of the community it aims to join.”

Mr Mathewson’s words were echoed by Verity Baynton, SRC member for private accommodation. “We don’t think it is a reasonable price which is a message that was strongly conveyed to them in our focus group meetings,” she said.

However, despite the Union’s warnings, the high price tag has left many students undeterred. According to their website, the Student Housing Company have only a limited number of rooms remaining. Bob Crompton, Chairman of The Student Housing Company, told The Saint: “Bookings at the new accommodation Ayton House in St Andrews are going very well and we have a long waiting list for viewings.”

He also dismissed Mr Mathewson’s comments about the high price. “The students really seem to appreciate the value of fully inclusive bills and we look forward to welcoming the residents when they arrive in September,” he said.

However, William Marshall, a first year Economics and Management student who is seeking accommodation in Ayton House, told The Saint that the cost was “on the more expensive side, especially seeing as I pay considerably less in DRA which is fully catered.”

He described the length of the lease, which extends to almost a year, as utterly pointless. He said: “The 51 week lease is what I found most surprising. It’s pretty clear that no student really needs to keep his room over the summer holidays. Obviously they want to secure as much rent as possible but the Student Housing Company could easily rent the rooms for two weeks this summer at considerable rates during the golf Open.”

The Student Housing Company’s website claims that the “bespoke designed common room in a contemporary yet vintage style reflects the local area and features zones designed to meet your every need.”

Despite the Union’s condemnation of Ayton House’s price tag, the Students’ Association website has advertised the residence since Christmas. Mr Mathewson commented: “Their advertising will have been purchased through our commercial wing.”

At Refreshers’ Fayre, on Sunday 1 February, the Student Housing Company were given a table next to the Union’s entrance to advertise their new accommodation.

Ayton House will, however, provide 241 sorely needed beds for the student population. The redeveloped Fife Park Houses, due to open next academic year, and further private accommodation on East Sands, due to welcome residents in September 2016, will also ease accommodation woes.

The University declined to comment on the cost of Ayton House.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Good value? You know you can get a decently sized room in London for 10k a year,right? Anyone who thinks this is good value (or uses DRA as a benchmark for good value) clearly has no concept of the value of money.

  2. St Andrews is meant to be a university that accommodates all students, and not just the wealthy ones at DRA or this ridiculously priced place – what about the lower classes, or those who are from a 1 parent family, or those whose only income is disability benefits? This is utterly appalling that the accommodation merely looks at those who can afford to pay ludicrous prices and is not taking into account all of it’s students, which is utterly appalling

  3. Look at it from the other side. I know quite a lot of people in St Andrews whose budget is pretty much unlimited and they would want to pay £10000 to just not go through the stress of the house hunting. If we place 200 of them in that house then the competition for the reasonably priced accommodation becomes 200 people less. I guess at least this was the motivation the company. And they get the incredible profit.

    Also, looked at the gallery… LOL Are iMacs installed in every room?

  4. £10000 for a room far away from the gym and the town center, not to mention all of the grocery stores? No thank you…. Even if my budget is huge and I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more to avoid the stress of baffling with lousy letting agents or landlords, I ain’t stupid enough to pay that much money for such an inconvenient room

  5. I know a lot of posh (undergrad)students who have an unlimited budget and show this with their behaviour. They don’t go to the gym, take cabs from Dominos to ABH, and spend in one night more than I have to live with in a month.
    They are the perfect target group for these halls. Why not? If their parents income is higher than some countries budget they should be thankful for the opportunity to live with people who have similar mind-sets.

  6. Steady on there. I know a lot of posh students with an unlimited budget too, but I’m not a judgemental prick about it. I’m really trying not to take your response as bigoted but I can’t help thinking how offensive I’d find it if someone proposed that “if their parents haven’t got any money they should be thankful to live with people who have similar mindsets” since all poor people “walk from Dominos to ABH and have less to live on in a month than I spend in one night.”

  7. I wonder why this article failed to state they also have contracts for 43 weeks, which is what I went for. Which is roughly the same price as catered DRA. I’ve lived in catered halls and still ended up buying groceries due to missing meals because of class times and stuff like that and yes it’s not in town but it’s closer than DRA is. The university is just pissed that they don’t own it, how about we discuss the ever rising tuition fees? or the sky high rent prices that I’ve seen? (a place for 1000 per month and even 750 per month, all excluding bills) and problems of students freezing themselves during the winter because they cannot afford to pay the rent and bills?

  8. I suspect some of the comments here have been left by people who’ve been paid by the Student Housing Company to leave positive reviews.

  9. I have put my son in Ayton House, no I am not substantially well off, but the extra cost was worth the peace of mind. A share in a 2 bedroom flat was a minimum of £500 and didnt include any bills. When repairs have been required they have generally been dealt with swiftly, having lived in rented accomodation landlords are rarely quick to spend money on repairs. The place is secure, permanently manned and for the estimated extra £50 – £100 a month his mum and I can be happy in that security.

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