Students wanting to live in King’s accommodation during the academic year 2021/22 will have to pay a rent pre-payment to secure their rooms.
The university, which previously prided itself on having a 0% accommodation deposit, made a U-turn on this decision by asking students to pay £450 to secure their rooms. Mentioned on their “How to Apply” page, King’s Residences states that “You will now be asked to make a rent pre-payment of £450 in order to secure your room, but this pre-payment will be offset against the first instalment of rent due in October 2021. If you have been approved for the King’s Affordable Accommodation Scheme (KAAS), you will not be asked to make this pre-payment.”
The last time King’s students had to pay a deposit to secure their accommodation was before 2015. In that time, the deposit was £300. Since then, King’s has implemented the KAAS alongside zero-deposit in order to reduce the financial burden on those experiencing monetary hardship.
Adding this hurdle to the process of applying for student accommodation contributes to existing difficulties students have faced while applying to King’s Residences. These include a variety of technical issues with the accommodation portal, the unfeasibility of portal opening timings for students living in different countries, and post-booking issues that arose last year.
This year’s King’s Accommodation applicants have already faced issues, with the applications portal opening on March 16, a day after the officially announced date of March 15.
The addition of rent pre-payment could be a cause of concern for the student community as a whole. Incoming first year students do not receive their maintenance loan payments until university begins, and students who have conditional offers from King’s will have to pay this sum before they even know if their place is confirmed. Although King’s mentions that students will get a full refund if they do not meet the entry criteria for their course, the pre-payment represents a significant sum of money.
Whilst students eligible for the KAAS do not have to make this payment, KAAS rooms are allocated on a “first come, first serve” basis. Students can be eligible for KAAS and still have to pay the £450 if all KAAS rooms are already allocated before they can access the booking system.
This change comes as the world is still facing the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of jobs available in the UK at a record low. Unemployment in the UK is also at its highest since 2016, with 1.7 million people jobless in the 3 months to the end of November 2020.
On being asked about the pre-payment, an anonymous student told Roar they “find it disgusting that King’s are so blind to the fact that a lot of families can’t afford £450 and the fact [that] they neglect to mention that KAAS is quota-based”.
In an official statement, KCL Rent Strike also expressed their stance on the pre-payment: “For the next academic year, students are being asked to make a payment of £450 to secure their rooms. This payment, during a pandemic or not, is a PREPOSTEROUS ask for mostly freshers and international students who are either paying RIDICULOUS prices for fees among other things or are just leaving secondary education and getting used to the price shift. This payment will disproportionately affect students from working or lower class backgrounds alongside international students who are paying huge prices for student fees. We will not tolerate it, and will fight to get it removed.”
King’s has not yet commented on student feedback regarding the issue. Roar will continue to update you as the situation develops.