Students protest accommodation privatisation

Curtin University students are protesting against the privatisation of on-campus accommodation which will see rents increase by $30 a week in 2019.

The university announced the change as the accommodation was sold to third party provider Unilodge under the $360 million Greater Curtin Project.

Curtin University residential student union vice president Melinda Perks said the new ownership had “all been very hush-hush up until now”.

Ms Perks and fellow resident Shaun Reynolds begun the Residential Student Union at the beginning of this year.

Ms Perks said their attention was caught when she saw an article stating the prices and new payment plan for next year.

“Once we got our hands on that [the article] we could not believe how we were going to be treated” she said.

“We can’t understand why it has to be such a large jump in rent”.

The union has sent petitions to residents across all four villages on-campus and received personal emailed complaints.

“If you have seen the apartments it’s quite overvalued for what you get,” Ms Perks said.

Curtin University mass communications student Leah Brown is just one of many residents making the move to off campus accommodation next year as the rent price increases.

“For that price, I could find a house with a couple of my friends that would be cheaper,” she said.

Ms Brown said the decision shocked herself and friends as most of them expected to stay for the duration of their entire university degree.

“Now due to the increase in prices, everyone is really starting to question what they are going to do,” she said.

Like most regional and international students, Ms Brown chose to live on campus as she was new to Perth and did not know anyone in the area.

“I thought moving into student housing, especially for the first year would be the most convenient for me, she said.

“I wanted to be in a place that was close to school and that I could just come and learn where I was.”

Ms Brown said she now felt the increase in rent price had taken this option away.

A Curtin University spokesperson said the university still believed on-campus accommodation would be an attractive option for students, however were not forcing them to stay.

“They are also free to choose to rent privately, share with friends or live with family during their studies” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the selling of the accommodation to Unilodge was part of Stage one of the Greater Curtin Project.

“Students staying in the accommodation have been given four months’ notice (even though negotiations are still being finalised) and increases will only be implemented at the start of 2019,” they said.

A Curtin Student Guild media release said Unilodge was fined $90,000 last year after producing false and misleading claims to students and failing to put their bonds into trust.

Unilodge refused to comment on the new ownership and planned rent hike for students.




Categories: Education, Property, youth