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Student poverty warning as rents double

The cost of renting university accommodation has almost doubled in the last decade, a new survey shows.

Average weekly rent for a room in university-owned accommodation has increased from £58.78 in 2001-02 to £115.49 in 2012-13.

The figures were published in a survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) and student housing charity Unipol.

Rent across all types of student accommodation has increased by 19%. Average weekly cost in 2009-10 was £102.74 but by 2012-13 reached £121.80 a week.

Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, said: "Student rents in Scotland have sky- rocketed over the past decade, leaving fewer affordable accommodation options for students from lower and middle-income backgrounds.

"It is these students who are really feeling the pinch. Universities have a responsibility to support their students but that responsibility does not begin and end at the doors of the lecture hall.

"Universities certainly need to do more to widen access to those from the most deprived communities but they need to ensure students can afford to stay in university as well.

"We need Scottish universities to properly plan accommodation supply and take a hard look at capping rent increases in university-owned accommodation."

Martin Blakey of Unipol said the cost of accommodation provided by universities and privately rented housing has moved closer together over the past three years.

"It is important for universities and colleges to acknowledge the vital role they have to play in enhancing access and the student experience by providing distinctive and affordable accommodation for their students within a not-for-profit framework," he said.

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