The statement below was passed through the Kent Marxist society last week. It marks the first step in a campaign against rent increases at the University of Kent. For more information about the campaign and to get involved please use the contact form below and check out the campaign’s Facebook group here.
This statement is being written because we, a body of students at the University of Kent, are growing increasingly concerned by the price increases of campus accommodation set for the 2016/2017 academic year. The student newspaper, InQuire, has reported that some accommodation buildings will have their rent prices increased as much as 19% for the coming year. The price of accommodation on campus is already, in some instances, over triple what is charged for comparable accommodation in the Canterbury area. These increases drive the average accommodation prices at the University of Kent up to £5,420.61 per academic year which is over £1,000.00 more than the national average and makes Kent’s campus the second most expensive in the country outside of London. All of this comes as the Canterbury City Council plans to crack down on Student housing outside of the universities, leaving incoming students potentially trapped paying extortionate fees for their education.
These numbers become even more disturbing as allegations of decadence and over spending concerning the administration have also been brought to light. The Vice-Chancellor, Dame Julia Goodfellow, has recently stirred up controversy by spending over £26,000.00 worth of university funds on first class travel expenses to international meetings in the last year. Goodfellow, who already is paid above the average salary for workers in her position, also will be enjoying £43,000.00 pay increase for the coming year. It is clear that the money generated by these rent increases is not going back into increasing the quality of life for students hear.
These factors all considered together draw a very clear picture. The University of Kent has a blinding ambition to increase it’s standing in international ratings, and it is not afraid to do so at the expense of poor and working class students. Such price increases are an act of violence against the poor because they hinder their ability to access the resources that would ensure they develop their full potential as human beings. This applies not only to the less affluent citizens of the UK, increases also are especially debilitating to foreign students, who often have no connections in the UK which would allow them to avoid accommodation on campus. These moves by the administration are part of a broader societal trend towards the commodification education at the expense of students, and they must be opposed.
In conclusion we, the concerned students of the University of Kent, believe that we educate ourselves not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of society at large. We believe that education should be free and available to all and that these accommodation cost increases are in clear contradiction of our values. In that spirit, we will organize using official channels of communication and direct action to fight these and future price hikes.