Prove your humanity

Students living in university housing have been informed that they are facing a rent hike next year as part of the $360 million Greater Curtin project.

The accommodation is being sold to UniLodge, and rents will be increased by 15 per cent—students will pay $220 a week in rent in 2019 at a $30 increase from the present rate of $190.

The first stages of the project will include 1,000 new contemporary accommodation beds and a short-stay hotel. A Curtin spokesperson told Grokthat the proposed transfer of the existing student accommodation to “a proposed third-party operator” has enabled this progress.

“It will offer students far greater diversity in terms of accommodation choice and lifestyle on campus.”

UniLodge is one of Australia’s largest student accommodation providers, managing 60 properties in Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand), and they were fined $90,000 last year after making misleading claims to students and failing to put their bonds in trust.

The University gave the due four months’ notice at a meeting where around 100 residents were present—which is less than 10 per cent of the current population in student housing, most of which are international or regional students.

Guild President Liam O’Neill commented that the last time students were engaged in accommodation changes was years ago, when Curtin organised a series of focus groups.

“Curtin’s strategic plan acknowledges the importance of working to improve rural and regional enrolments yet this announcement does nothing to assist those students.”

The University spokesperson told Grok that the rent will include the costs of utilities, internet access, furniture, appliances, Curtin Stadium gym access, and “organised social and recreational activities and pastoral care in a safe and secure environment,” with staff present 24-7 at each village.

“The University considers on-campus housing will still be an attractive option for students,” the spokesperson said, “however, they are also free to choose to rent privately, share with friends or live with family during their studies.”

The circumstances for supporting students who are financially affected by this change are to be addressed on a ‘case-by-case basis’.

Students are facing higher debt for their education than ever before, they have to pay it off sooner, see unemployment rates of 15 per cent even four years after completing a degree, and collectively owe $4.9 billion in HECS debt. Students are also told that they can “give up a share of their graduate incomes for a certain number of years” to pay off this debt.

“A lot of us will have to look at moving out because of this pricing change,” one student told The West.

The University spokesperson said that Curtin still believes the on-campus accommodation “offers value for money, and charges remain within the affordability levels set by the Government for student housing.”

“Curtin has just announced significant staffing cuts in the Science and Engineering faculty, tried to convince everyone that trimesters are a good idea and is now selling off student housing,” said O’Neill.

“The University Council needs to commit Curtin to a pro-student direction, otherwise the Minister should appoint a Council that will.”

The University spokesperson told Grok that the terms of the agreement are currently being negotiated.