University of Tartu to increase prices of dormitories in middle of summer

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The University of Tartu main building. Source: Vladislava Snurnikova/ERR

The University of Tartu is raising halls of residence rents by 10 percent from July 1. Students say they want to postpone this decision, which was made due to the pandemic.

University of Tartu student campus development specialist, Liina Kuusik, said that both in Tartu and Viljandi, the prices have been raised. The last rental price hike took place in 2017.

Kuusik said that the new prices will still be under the average rental market prices.

"Over the years, the rental market has changed significantly. The whole accommodation sector has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The real estate management and maintenance expenses have increased since the last price change. Our wish is to offer the students better conditions, which is why the price increase is inevitable," Kuusik said.

University of Tartu Student Council's chairman Karl Lembit Laane is disappointed in the decision, however. Laane explained that because students are often working in the service sector besides going to school, and the sector has been hit hard, the economic state of the students is not good.

Laane referred to the fact that unemployment among 15-24-year-olds has doubled over the past year.

"There were several alternatives. Firstly, to postpone the price increase to when the situation in the economy and the society has stabilized. The other proposals were that the university could reduce the money it is taking from the non-profit organization Üliõpilasküla (student campus) or reinstate the membership fee. Which is increasing its own contribution," Laane said.

University of Tartu's real estate department manager Heiki Pagel said that the university is collecting €708, 000 from non-profit organization every year. This goes for renovating the dormitories and the university has to pay extra.

"We have a clear plan to go renovate the dormitory on Nooruse Street 7. This year we finished the multi-stage renovations of the Narva Street 89 building. The dormitories that were renovated in 2000 or 2002 are coming back in the circle," Pagel said.

Pagel admitted that the non-profit organization is in a difficult state. This, however, is not the main reason for the price increase.

"Cleaning expenses are increasing since the minimum wage is constantly increasing. Materials are more expensive, construction expenses are higher," he added.

Karl Lembit Laane said that the students just have to accept the situation.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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