Local businesses are already feeling the impact of higher tuition fees as Kingston students shun restaurants for fast food.
A Kingston Courier survey has revealed that restaurants in the town with an average price between £10 and £15 per meal per person are facing serious problems. Students that were their habitual customers are going out for dinner more sporadically with negative repercussions on the local food industry.
Since September Kingston University students have been asked to pay between £5,000 and £9,000 in tuition fees, depending on their course. In some cases this is a three fold increase.
Some restaurants have had to change their business models and, in some cases, even reduce the number of employees. The manager of a restaurant in central Kingston says: “We had to take some important decisions in the past two months. Students that were our regular clients in the previous year are not coming anymore. The business is changing. Our usual customers are now families. But generally, our business is shrinking.”
He added: “We are thinking to promote some good deals in order to attract students, but it is not easy to work in these conditions. We are facing a global crisis.”
But if restaurants are feeling the pinch, fast-food chains have seen an increase in their turnover since the start of the academic year.
The manager of a well known fast-food store in Central Kingston says: “This year, from what I can see, a lot of students are buying our sandwiches. I can only give you an approximate estimate, but I can say that we are selling more than 1,000 sandwiches per day. This year volumes are much bigger compared to the previous years.” The average price for a sandwich in this fast-food store is approximately £2.
The higher tuition fees have also forced students to choose a different lifestyle. Instead of going out for dinner, they now prefer to have dinner at home. A student confirmed: “We rather prefer to find alternative ways of having fun. My friends and I have dinner at home and then we all go out for dancing.”