STUDENTS are set to protest over rising accommodation costs which they say are leading to more people choosing to live out of college.

Durham University’s students union (DSU) has launched a campaign against above-inflation increases to college accommodation fees, which it says are a “rip off”.

President Alice Dee said: “In the last few years we’ve seen decreases in students wanting to return to college and you can’t separate that from the fact that the cost has gone up quite a lot.

“There’s a lot of concern about the potential students from low income backgrounds who can’t afford to come here and have the Durham experience.”

She added: “A lot of students do worry about how expensive it is to live in college and the wider impact that has on Durham City. The student body is very conscientious and we want the university to take responsibility for the damage its causing.”

The cheapest options at university colleges for the next academic year have been advertised as £6,940 for catered accommodation and £4,891 for self-catered rooms.

At Newcastle University the cheapest catered rooms are £5,064.15, while at Northumbria they are £4,368 and York are £5,664.

According to research done by the DSU, in its analysis of 12 universities, Durham’s low-end accommodation was the highest priced this year.

So far around 1,200 students have signed a petition calling for the university to review fees, including lowering them to what they would have been if there had been inflationary increases over the last nine years – which would put them at £5,775 for catered and £5,139 for self-catered accommodation.

Pro-vice Chancellor Owen Adams said:“The cost of providing our college residences rises year on year and we have to review prices on an annual basis to ensure we can continue to provide a high standard of accommodation and services. When reviewing our college residence charges, we consult extensively, including with student representatives.

“We strive to offer good value for money to our students. We continue to invest in our colleges to offer an excellent student experience and we continue to listen to feedback. Recent examples of refurbishment projects at our colleges include: the St Mary’s music rooms, new study space at Josephine Butler, a new gym at Trevelyan, and a multi-use games area (MUGA) for outdoor sports at Collingwood.”

“In addition, there are major additional works planned across our colleges over the coming months and years.”

The university has announced plans to expand student numbers by around 6,000 over the next decade but also wants to increase the percentage living in college to reduce pressure on housing.

A protest is planned outside the Bill Bryson Library on Wednesday, June 7 at 10am.