A MANCHESTER-based project could change the UK's student housing problem.
A £ 50,000 feasibility study into co-operatively-owned student accommodation has begun which would challenge private landlords by offering better, more affordable places to live.
The study is 65 per cent funded by a £ 32,800 grant from Co-operative Action ? which supports the development of new co-operative enterprises.
The National Union of Students, Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology will work with the Manchester-based Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH).
A team of consultants assembled by the CCH has begun the feasibility study, which will be discussed at a seminar in Manchester this week.
The project is co-financed by a steering group of the three Manchester students unions and the NUS, but it would not have been possible without the Co-operative Action grant, said Verity Coyle, NUS Vice President for Welfare.
"Students have the right to secure, affordable housing and the prospect of achieving this by co-operatively owning and managing their accommodation would make this one of the most exciting initiatives for decades.
"Many students outside halls of residence pay ridiculous rents and deposits for appalling accommodation with few guarantees and little or no security.
"Co-op housing would put students in control ? sharing long-term strategic responsibility and shorter-term property management. Rents would reduce while still allowing commercially attractive returns on investment."
"This is a new area that would demonstrate co-op ethics to generations of young people," said Stephen Youd-Thomas of Co-operative Action.
"It will make a huge difference to housing standards and the costs of student life and introduce an awareness of co-op principles and ethics that could influence their lives forever."