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6th March 2024

£1.3 million spent on maintenance of University of Manchester student accommodation

Oak House sinkhole? Oak House receives £1.3 million in maintenance funds as it continues to house students
£1.3 million spent on maintenance of University of Manchester student accommodation
Credit: Erin Botten @ The Mancunion

Over the past 3 academic years, over £1.3 million has been spent by the university on maintaining the Oak House accommodation hall.

Spending peaked in the 2021-22 academic year, reaching £477,922. £418,803 was spent in 2022-23 and £405,263 was spent in 2020-21.

This money was spent on solving 6,574 individual issues, working out at 6 issues per day.

This information was obtained by The Mancunion through a Freedom of Information request.

A University spokesperson indicated, “We never pass on increases in energy or food prices in the year, and when we do increase prices we make sure the lowest increases are in the cheapest halls – it has been agreed that there will be no increase in rent for Oak House and Whitworth Park for 2024-25.”

Students living at Oak House also made a total of 140 reports of ‘rodent activity’ since January 2021. 93 of these reports were made in the most recent academic year (2022-23).

This is a significant increase compared to previous years, with 31 being made in 2021-22 and 16 being made between January and August 2021.

Each report here refers to “callouts where evidence of rodent activity was detected, and treatment was undertaken.”

Oak House rental prices have increased in the last 2 decades. Since 2004-05 rent has risen from £54 to £113, a rise of more than 90%.

£113 a week for 41 weeks works out at £4633 a year. This means for a student getting the average maintenance loan of £7590, rent at Oak House will take up 61% of their maintenance loan.

The NUS defines ‘affordable’ rent for students as being ‘50% of the maximum maintenance loan.

Outside of London, this results in a figure of £4989 a year being considered the highest annual rent that can still be viewed as affordable. This works out to £121 a week, given a 41-week tenancy.

This means Oak House is on the cusp of being considered affordable, being one of only two accommodations at the university that can be considered as such, with the other being Whitworth Park at £117 a week.

As of yet, there have been no reassurances from the university about any caps or reductions in rent.

Concerns have been raised over the affordability of new accommodation, which is set to be built on the current site of Oak House as part of the Fallowfield campus redevelopment project.

Unsworth Park, the newest addition to the Fallowfield campus, costs £188 a week, £67 a week over the amount considered to be affordable by NUS.

UoM Rent Strike, a student group who have previously conducted protests against the University regarding the “poor quality” accommodation and “sky high prices” have demanded that 50% of all the new housing constructed as part of the Fallowfield accommodation redevelopment project, must meet NUS requirements for affordability.

You can read more about and contact ResLife for support here.

A spokesperson for The University of Manchester, responded with:

“Any reported issues are dealt with immediately and regular health and safety checks take place. We maintain a pest control contract which sees professionals attend eight visits per year to University residences to undertake inspections and carry out preventative measures. In addition we have a reactive service that responds to issues raised through the buildings maintenance reporting system. The contractor will continue to monitor and carry out follow-up treatments and inspections until there is no detected activity. 

When we become aware of issues we always respond. We work with the maintenance teams and our pest contractor to try and identify and repair any ingress points. All residences are cleaned twice a week by cleaning services. This is a partnership to supplement the cleaning that residents would do themselves.  

Where necessary, we provide advice and support to residents to help prevent pests being attracted. We can’t guarantee picking up issues that are reported via social media. If you have any problems please report this through the online process or speak to a member of staff in your hall or at reception.”

You can read the rest of the University’s response here.

You can report an issue with your halls of residence here: Reporting an issue | Residents | The University of Manchester

Jake Aldridge

Jake Aldridge

Deputy Investigations Editor 23/24

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