On-campus parking charges have more than doubled for students for the next academic year, from £52 to £115.
Students must still meet certain eligibility criteria in order to apply for a parking permit for campus, as well as paying a fee, which is now more than double the cost of previous years. The changes have also removed the service of one-day scratchcards for students, who may only require their car on campus for a short period of time.
However, despite some suggestions that student parking be opened up from the current restrictions – students may currently only park in Alexandra Park – the parking zones have not been changed.
“The University has a transport policy that aims to satisfy the needs of our staff, students and visitors while encouraging more sustainable transport options. This is set against a situation where we are not allowed by City planners to greatly increase the number of spaces we have available. This is a very difficult balancing act,” said Professor Trevor McMillan, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, and Chair of the Transport Working Group at the University.
He added: “This year’s arrangements are a result of a refresh of the policy that has considered demand, spatial arrangement of spaces, improvements in bus services and improvements in provision for cyclists. The cost structure is then based on this analysis and the calculation that it costs in excess of £100 per year to provide each space.”
President of the Students’ Union, Robbie Pickles is in opposition to the changes. “This increase represents a direct punishment for those students who have a proven need for transport. It is a tax on those who cannot afford to live away from home; a levy on those forced by heavy course costs into part-time work,” he said.
He added: “Without a comprehensive public transport review this initiative is punitive to motorists whilst offering no ability or incentive for students to find alternative methods of transport.”
Though there will be some changes to public transport links on campus – after campaigns of the last academic year, there will be a trial service around North campus of the X1 and some night buses – it seems that there has not been enough concession to students who have no choice but to drive onto campus in order to compensate for the hike in parking fees.
This is coupled with the delay in the opening of the North campus bus stop and the closure of the Underpass for the Rejuvenation of Alexandra Square project both causing problems to public transport links to campus.
Though the efforts to improve transport to campus have not gone unnoticed and these problems are only temporary, it appears to students that the University’s main priority is the staff. The University provides discounted or free UniRider bus passes to staff members who use public transport, with them also being eligible for car sharing discounts on their on-campus parking permits.
McMillan commented that the working group is keen to work with LUSU to improve the situation for students. “There is still the provision of a substantial number of student permit parking spaces on Alexandra Park and students will be able to pay daily and park in visitors spaces. However, as with staff, we are committed to try to encourage students to use other forms of transport and we have agreed with LUSU officers that we will work with them during the course of this year to develop our ability to do that.”
Pickles, who sits on the Transport Working Group, is currently working to improve the parking policy for students in future years. “This now forms just one of many ‘hidden course costs’ which are contributing to the spiralling price of Higher Education and which LUSU is committed to oppose.”