Going for Broke

Keble faces rent increases

Keble junior members launched a surprise Hall strike this term, following the announcement of proposed rent increases of over 30%, before any inflation adjustment, for undergraduate accommodation.

Feeling they had gained little from the negotiating table, the JCR headed straight for High Table. On a formal guest night which included two bishops and a member of Keble's Advisory Council, the mustered forces of the JCR and MCR, numbering about 250, silently walked out after Grace, leaving High Table marooned in an otherwise empty Hall.

The Warden's official letter described the demonstration as "responsible". Acknowledging the strike's impact, the Warden said, "We are particularly aware of the importance of Keble's traditional concern for less well-off students in the context of the present changing situation with regard to student financing".

As rents rise all over the University, Keble's planned increase will be implemented over three years. Coinciding with an annual decrease in grant levels students fear that this will lead to increased hardship. The Student Loan, which is supposed to top up the balance, is proving an ineffective grant substitute as delays in processing applications result in students being unable to make up the shortfall.

Colleges, too, face an increasingly difficult task in making ends meet. Academic funding is on the decline and as Bursar, Ken Lovett, pointed out, the college must prioritise: "We are, first and foremost, a teaching institution and we must use our resources to ensure the best possible education for our students. Subsidising rents to below the national level for students puts this in jeopardy."

It has been argued that income from conference trade could be used to continue the subsidy of accomodation, but, with colleges already running deficits, this capital is more often than not subsumed within existing budgets.

Some recognition of student concerns has already been made by the College. A large number of bursaries have been proposed to support those students in greatest need. Despite this measure, undergraduates are still worried that financial pressures could damage academic performance, and continue to press home their case at College committee level.

Perhaps of greatest concern for the College as a whole is the possibility that high rents will deter future applicants to both Keble and Oxford generally.

D.C. *


the brick issue 3 - Hilary Term 1995
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