Newnham students currently pay – on average – the most in rent per weekAnna Menin

Ahead of students returning from their vacation, Newnham College have announced that they will be waiving the Kitchen Fixed Charge (KFC) for Easter term for all students.

In an email sent out to students this afternoon, interim bursar Donald Hearn said that the decision had been made after discussions with representatives from the JCR and MCR, amid a wider review of the KFC. The decision is expected to save undergraduates living in college around £300 per term, and live-in graduate students around £150.

A Kitchen Fixed Charge is a compulsory fee for all students, regardless of how much they eat in college. Colleges have defended KFCs in the past by arguing that they encourage students to eat communally in hall.

Cambridge Cut the Rent described the announcement as a “big win for Newnham students”, telling Varsity that “once again a combination of student pressure and effective JCR lobbying, has paid off, with college authorities forced into concessions”.

The news comes after a Varsity investigation found that Newnham undergraduate students had the highest average rent and supplementary charges per week of any college – at a total of £178.48.

Newnham charges a KFC of £287.95 per term for first-years on a termly license, the highest compulsory charge of any college. First-years on a longer license are charged £331.14.

In response to the investigation, Newnham had said in February that they would be trialling an ‘opt-out’ system for the KFC, where students who chose not to pay termly would instead pay a surcharge on individual purchases at the buttery. However, today’s email suggests the College has chosen a more generous route.


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Citing the figure of £178.48, Cut the Rent said that it considered the KFC decision “nowhere near enough”.

“This is outrageous, the rent needs to be cut. What’s more, Newnham has a notoriously draconian fining system. We therefore hope this is the start of true housing justice at Newnham. Students deserve better,” they continued.

In the email, Hearn said that the College was “working closely” with the JCR and MCR to explore a range of pricing options while ensuring that the buttery remained open seven days a week.

“It is envisaged the details of the options for the new academic year will be finalised in May 2018 and will be communicated shortly thereafter,” he continued.

In addition to the changes to KFC, Newnham also refunded a student whose story had appeared in the investigation, and had been made to pay for a longer lease after she was suddenly made homeless.

Newnham JCR president Jess Lock declined to comment.

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