Tue | Nov 13, 2018

138 Student Living disappointed with hall fee increases

Published:Sunday | August 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Rose Hamilton, general manager of real estate company 138 Student Living Jamaica Limited, says the recent increases in dorm fees granted by the University of the West Indies for the new halls on the Mona campus fall short of expectations.

"There have been increases and speaking for 138, not at the level we had proposed," Hamilton said.

A new schedule posted online shows fee increases of up to five per cent.

Student Living manages 1,800 beds at UWI Mona, but while occupancy levels have improved over time, the performance of the concession has not been up to expectations.

 

MONTHLY ROOM RATE

 

In the academic year ended, Irvine Hall carried a monthly rate of $30,000 for single rooms. The new charge is $32,000 for new students and $30,900 for returning students to the hall.

For double occupancy on Irvine Hall, the old charge was $25,000. The new charge is $27,000 for new students and $25,750 for returning students.

The rate on Leslie Robinson Hall, which is single occupancy only, has been increased from $51,350 per month to $52,891.

At the new hall of residence, George Alleyne, the double occupancy rate is $30,663 and $52,891 single occupancy per month.

Increases have also been implemented at the other halls that are managed by the university's Office of Student Services and Development, ranging from a low of $183,000 annually at Chancellor Hall and a high of $328,350 for residence on the middle floor of the 600 Block at the university's western campus in St James.

The respective fees on those two halls in the past academic year were $177,815 and $318,795.

There are eight halls of residence falling outside the concession agreement with Student Living, including 600 Block and WCJ Buccaneer in Montego Bay, and Mary Seacole, Rex Nettleford, Chancellor, Elsa Leo-Rhynie, AZ Preston and ABC on the Mona campus in Kingston.

Hamilton said hall fees are set by the UWI through a committee. UWI promised a response on the fee increases, but none had arrived up to press time.

The most recent information released by 138 Student Living for the March quarter, the student housing company operated 1,464 rooms with average occupancy of 94 per cent, an improvement on the 1,080 rooms operated at the same point in March 2017 when occupancy was 75 per cent.

Revenue grew 55 per cent as a result, but as then chairman John Lee noted in the company's financial report for the quarter, top-line income "continues to be less than optimum as the approved rental rates for the latest development was less than agreed as contained in the concession agreement".

UWI and the company have engaged in a review of the financial model under the concession agreement. It was expected that from the review there would be an adjustment to Student Livings accounts, which will positively impact revenues and overall profitability of the group, Lee said in July.

The concession agreement runs for 30 years, dating from 2014 and could potentially be renewed for another 35 years.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com