Nov 2 2007 By Lucy Proctor
STUDENTS at Thames Valley University are struggling to pay for food and equipment because the only halls of residence on offer are so expensive.
Paragon Halls in Brentford was opened in September 2006, a welcome relief for new arrivals, who until then had been sent to places such as the YMCA in St Mary's Road, Ealing, which many students say was completely unsuitable.
But TVU students are now charged a staggering £108 per week for a standard room and they say it is making juggling their meagre funds impossible.
Nearly every London university offers halls at much cheaper rates. Goldsmiths in South London has halls for £85 per week, Kingston University for £97, and the London School of Economics for only £65.
Only the School of Oriental and African Studies' accommodation is as pricey - it also costs £108 a week.
The university defended the rooms in Boston Park Road, saying they were of a high standard, and said the price included all bills, food and utilities.
But students say they should be allowed to enjoy the safety and social life of halls without paying such high fees, and blasted the university for building such expensive accommodation.
A student receiving the maximum loan gets around £2,000 per semester - but if they live at Paragon £1,587 is gone on accommodation.
Music technology student Rob Grant, 24, said: "I was considering moving into Paragon and looked to see whether it was in my budget.
"For £108 a week I would get a tiny little slither of a room, which wouldn't even have enough space to fit all my equipment in and in an area that's not even close to the university.
"It was actually cheaper for me to live in a house share with a much bigger room in a better area right near the uni."
A 20-year-old student, now living in Paragon after a terrible year spent at the YMCA, said: "Some of us have no choice but to go into halls, and I don't know what they expect us to do.
"I don't know anyone else who pays as much as us. They are pretty standard rooms."
A TVU spokeswoman said the prices at Paragon were 'in line' with other London universities. She said: "Any university developing new halls of residence today would want them to be of the highest standard, and equipped to provide students with a high quality living and studying experience."