The college MCR said revealed that the effort for a rent freeze took “militantly" putting pressure on the college.Mihnea Maftei/Flickr

Girton College will freeze rents for new students in an effort to alleviate rising costs of living for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Rents at Girton are charged at the same level for the duration of a student’s undergraduate course. This year, matriculating students in 2024 will be charged the same rent as students who matriculated in 2023.

The college will also halve its required contribution from those living out of college. This contribution will be waived for veterinary or medical students, who are typically situated away from college. This makes Girton the first and only college to do this.

A campaign to make these changes started over a year and half ago, and involved collecting data from the other 31 colleges, writing a letter to the City Council, and meeting with college leadership.

Prior to the rent freeze, in 2022-2023, a Varsity investigation ranked Girton in first place for the most costly rent charges. The college then shifted from having the most expensive undergraduate accommodation to occupying fourth place. It also fell from first to seventh place for most expensive postgraduate accommodation.

Girton also became the second least costly college for students receiving a bursary scheme. Last year, Girton’s rental increase of six percent was two percentage points lower than the median across all colleges.

Girton operates an undergraduate rent bursary scheme which reduces rent by £20 per week. This is applied automatically to undergraduate students who are in receipt of Cambridge Bursary Scheme funding, which applies to around one-third of undergraduate students at Girton.

On January 26, the MCR’s newsletter revealed that the effort for a rent freeze took “militantly … put[ting] pressure on the college”.


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The newsletter also acknowledges that “there was never a time College didn’t want to help us, it was always a question of financially viability and to where best place student support efforts”.

Jye Smallwood, MCR Secretary at Girton, told Varsity: “I think this is a big win for Girton students whether they live in college or out—especially given that we pay the highest rents of any Cambridge college.

He added: “Both the rent freeze and contribution rate reduction are a testament to the tireless work of our past and current J/MCR committee members”.

But as much as it was cause for celebration, the rent freeze also brought with it confusion. Another Ph.D. student at the college, for example, told Varsity they were uncertain about whether the rent freeze would apply to them as they will be away on field work. This student found the lack of details “upsetting”, since some internal grants from their faculty “don’t cover accommodation and food because during fieldwork we shouldn’t have to pay rent” in Cambridge.

The rent freeze for new students will last for the duration of their courses. At the start of 2025, the College will set the level of rent for the 2025 cohort after “a detailed review of inflation, living costs and the College’s own financial position”. The College have noted that their 5 year plan assumes a provisional increase of 3% in 2025. If this increase were to happen, it would not affect existing students, only new students who matriculate in 2025.

When contacted for comment, Girton College said: “It is a strategic priority for Girton to make college accommodation more affordable for its students. After two years of increasing our rents below inflation, the College’s improving financial position will now allow us to take the further step of holding rent for the 2024 cohort at the level of the 2023 cohort. Girton’s approach to rent charges also means that what a student pays in their first year does not change over the life of their course, with a guarantee of no annual increase for individual students.”

“Postgraduate rents are also being held in 2024, with a series of discounts available based on tenancy lengths and continuing from previous Girton study.

“With further investments underway to improve the quality of facilities on our large site, including refurbishments to rooms and the transformation of the College’s main central court into a beautiful outdoor living space, Girton is making progress against its strategic objective of offering an outstanding student experience at a more affordable cost.”