The announcement follows a banner drop at the college earlier this monthMathis Gjedal Hammer

The Robinson College Student Association (RCSA) has today announced the latest developments in the Cut the Rent campaign, including a upcoming commitment from the College to place a cap on rent increases, and to give every student buttery credits.

In an email sent to students this morning, the RCSA announced that, an an upcoming meeting of Robinson Finance committee, the College is set to agree to a number of amendments to its accommodation plans, to increase the range and availability of affordable rooms.

Robinson is one of four colleges currently campaigning as part of Cut the Rent, alongside Murray Edwards, Magdalene and Downing, which urge colleges to reduce room rent charges as a result of high prices and unsatisfactory accommodation. The Big Cambridge Survey 2016, which surveyed 3,427 students and was published by CUSU, 60% of Robinson students were not satisfied with the value of accommodation.

Robinson’s Cut the Rent campaign has been particularly active, organising a petition which gathered the signatures of almost 200 students. The campaign also held a banner drop in three prominent places on College property earlier this month.

A Varsity investigation last week revealed significant disparities in average weekly rents and other compulsory charges across Cambridge colleges. Varsity were able to rank 27 of the 29 undergraduate colleges in terms of rent costs. The investigation found that Robinson students paid the second-highest average weekly costs  of any college, with students required to pay an average of £171.04 per week in rent, surpassed only by those at Newnham College. 

Today, it was announced that the College will agree to the following changes to their accommodation policy:

  • The number of rooms in the “value” bracket in the main college building is set to increase from five to thirteen. The number of these rooms was previously set to decrease from five to two.
  • New “standard shower” rooms will remain the same price, following conversion from a “standard” room. By 2023/24, 79 of the 102 “standard” rooms in the main building will have showers installed, converting to “standard shower” rooms. 22 rooms have already been converted.
  • The increase in residence charge for incoming freshers will be limited to 2%, which represents a cost saving in real terms, as inflation is between 2.7% and 4%.
  • A series of spending credits, amounting to £50 per term, will be allocated to each undergraduate student for use in the “Garden Restaurant” buttery and cafe. This will apply until graduation, or June 2020, whichever is sooner, at which point the system will be reviewed.

The motion has been agreed upon, and is pending final approval at both the next RCSA open meeting on Sunday 4th March and the next Finance committee meeting.

Speaking to Varsity, RCSA President James Hedge was pleased at the result of the campaign thus far: “In the past few weeks I’ve been working really hard to ensure that the college listens to the concerns 199 students raised when they signed the cut the rent petition. I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to secure a deal that increases the number of affordable rooms in college and guarantees a real terms cost saving for incoming freshers.”

In light of the lack of a Kitchen Fixed Charge at Robinson, Hedge was delighted about the credit agreement: “I am very happy that college has agreed to credit students with funds they can use to buy food in college.”

He continued, “The success of this campaign has shown that when JCR committees work hard on behalf of their students, while maintaining a productive relationship with college staff, meaningful change is possible.”


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Matt Kite, a spokesperson for the Robinson Cut the Rent campaign said:

“Today’s concessions from college, most importantly the real-terms price cut for incoming freshers, are a long overdue recognition that rents are too high. College cannot fill holes in its finances by charging extortionate rents, which sacrifice current students’ quality of life and undermine access efforts by giving prospective students material disincentives from applying. This is a win for a grassroots campaign working with a good JCR committee to show that when they act collectively students cannot be ignored.”

Robinson Cut the Rent is affiliated with the wider Cambridge, Cut the Rent campaign. Speaking to Varsity, a spokesperson for the campaign said: “Rent campaigns across Cambridge are starting to sese real victories that make a material difference to struggling students, first at Newnham last week and now at Robinson. It’s clearer than ever how much colleges depend on student compliance to let them get away with hiking up rents and using students as cash cows. This is the time for rent campaigns across all the colleges to keep demanding more; we have the collegiate university on the back foot and we should not miss this opportunity to push on and win.”

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