By Oliver Price – News Manager
The University of Hertfordshire’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Quintin McKellar, has said that the choice of living arrangements for first year students is ‘skewed’.
When Trident Media asked Professor McKellar what he thought of the high rent of University of Hertfordshire accommodation, he said: “Students have choice. If they would prefer to rent a house in Welwyn Hatfield, they can.”
However, when pressed on the true nature of choice that first year students, in regards to not having the opportunity to organise a home within the private rented sector due to the short amount of time from results day to the start of term, the Vice-Chancellor said:
“I think it’s a difficult choice, but I’m just saying that that is available if they have the ability.”
McKellar also explained how the University and ULiving@Hertfordshire arrive at the costs of accommodation on campus.
Grainne O’Monghain, President of Hertfordshire Students’ Union, responding to the Vice Chancellor’s comments said: ‘The University [of Hertfordshire] and many other universities across the country have got themselves into a position where they were trying to meet the demands of what students are saying they want, and forgot about the affordability aspect.
‘They were worrying more about what the market wants were and not the market needs.’
When asked if she believed university halls to be a monopoly O’Monghain replied:
“It could be argued as a monopoly.
“In essence they are but you can’t call them a monopoly in the sense of there is choice surrounding that monopoly… it’s not easy but there is choice surrounding that.
“When using words such as monopoly you have to make sure you follow the exact definition of what a monopoly is… it’s not technically a monopoly. “How we arrive at the rental level is, and we have an agreement with ULiving@Hertfordshire who run the residences, we have a group of universities around which we benchmark against, and we try to ensure that the rental here doesn’t go above their rental.