KCL “incompetent at best,” lawbreakers at worst?

King’s College London has been accused of attempting to stop leaders of the KCL Cut the Rent campaign from obtaining data on student accommodation prices. There has allegedly been a lack of transparency regarding a Freedom of Information request, which is illegal.

In the last ten years, King’s accommodation prices have risen by 62.24%. KCL Cut the Rent is a campaign aiming to fight this rapid increase and make residences affordable for students.

The average rent paid by King’s students was £135.51 per week in 2009, a figure that increased to £219.83 in 2019. KCL Cut the Rent seeks to make King’s provide compensation to students who have been paying these “extortionate” rates, as well as improve their living conditions within halls of residence. It demands King’s to freeze its accommodation prices and opposes the privatisation of accommodation and education, stating that “these are rights, not privileges.”

Many students at King’s are self-funded and have to take loans to fund their education. They are burdened with the high interest rate of 6.3% and often struggle to repay the money. This affects their mental health and general wellbeing, which is worsened by the exceptionally high accommodation rent.

An undergraduate student, who prefers to remain anonymous, said: “Students come to a university like King’s knowing that they have to work hard to do well. But constantly worrying about the crazy high rent prices is something that should not be an additional and unnecessary stressor.”

Besides indulging in exorbitantly high accommodation prices, King’s has also been accused of attempting to stop leaders of the campaign from “finding out the truth” through a “lack of transparency.”

On their Facebook page, KCL Cut the Rent revealed that they sent a Freedom of Information request (FOI) to the University requesting data on student accommodation prices from 2009. King’s responded by refusing to provide data for years prior to 2014, claiming that their records were wiped because of the installation of a new system in 2015. The campaign leaders were refused these records even after submitting an appeal against KCL’s response.

According to an anonymous student, “It’s impossible that King’s doesn’t have any information before 2014. There’s definitely something fishy going on here.”

As a result of this widespread disbelief, the campaign decided to launch its own investigation and found all the rent prices that King’s claimed to have “disappeared.” They discovered that residence prices at King’s have risen by 62.24%, and that cheaper halls have been removed from accommodation options. Shockingly, this “hidden” data was found in the University’s published documents, causing the campaign to proclaim on their Facebook page that “at best KCL is incompetent and at worst they lied in a FOI response, which is a breach of law.”

Roar contacted leaders of KCL Cut the Rent, but they refused to comment on the situation.