The College has apologised for the 'error'Steve Cadman / Flickr

Trinity College has come under fire for implementing a “stealth” increase in college bills, after amending its student handbook to reflect an increased catering charge, having already billed students without consultation.

Price rises at the College have led to students skipping meals, with many living in accommodation without suitable self-catering facilities, Varsity has been told.

The College this term implemented a £37 increase to its Kitchen Fixed Charge (KFC) without notifying the student body of the hike. The first mention of the new charge came in students’ bills, which were sent earlier this term.

Trinity’s Kitchen Fixed Charge is billed to all undergraduates at the College, to cover “overhead costs” of catering. Last year, the charge stood at £191 per term, but student bills this term included an increased figure of £228.80.

The KFC rise comes after the Trinity College Students’ Union (TCSU) had been campaigning for the College to lower last year’s rate. Naomi Vince, TCSU President, told students in an email at the end of last term that reducing the charge is “one thing the TCSU really want to push for next term”.

Students were first made aware of the new KFC on the 12th of October, when this term’s bills were sent out. These bills included the new £228.80 charge, although the College’s student handbook, known informally as the ‘White Book’, still mentioned a £191 termly fee at that time.

The White Book was then amended to reflect the new KFC a week later on the 19th of October, according to timestamped documents seen by Varsity.

The College emailed students on the 25th of October to draw attention to the “error,” explaining that the charge increase had been agreed upon by the College Council. The College “sincerely apologise[d]” for events.

David Secher, Trinity’s Acting Junior Bursar, said in the email: “During this time of high inflation, the College has managed to keep the increases below the general rate of inflation.”

“We are investigating how this figure failed to be updated and [are] putting the necessary systems in place to prevent it from happening again, but I wanted to draw this error to your attention as soon as possible,” Secher said.

A third-year Trinity student told Varsity: “[The College’s] attitude doesn’t surprise me but it’s still not fantastic to know that your big, wealthy college doesn’t take basic steps to look after its students by informing them of changes.”

“I know several people at Trinity on bursaries, and this feels particularly insulting to these students/others who have to budget very carefully for the term ahead,” they said.


Mountain View

Ben Shapiro says ‘barbarians’ are ‘inside the gates’, over Cambridge Israel Gaza responses

Another student labelled the charge increase as “ridiculous,” saying: “For them to put it up nearly £40 [...] without any warning is outrageous. It’s a stealth rise and totally unnecessary.”

“The increase to the KFC is alongside a rent, food price, and price hike and it means students are skipping meals and not eating well,” they said.

A spokesperson for Trinity College said: “Trinity College apologised to students at the time that due to an error, the increase in the Kitchen Fixed Charge for Michaelmas Term 2023 was not communicated properly. We have put in place measures to ensure this does not happen again.”

“The College has managed to keep the increase below the rate of inflation but we understand that, with the current cost of living, any rise is unwelcome. Trinity had previously committed to reviewing the Kitchen Fixed Charge and this process is underway,” they said.