Limit energy prices - Students and student unions urgently need support

  • The inclusion of students in the third relief package is the right signal, but the funds are not sufficient.
  • The energy price brake must also apply to tenants:inside the student union, since they pay flat rent
  • Revenue from the dining halls no longer even covers the energy they have to pay for.

Limit energy prices
Studierendenwerk welcomes the fact that students have been explicitly included in the third relief package. The announced €200 is a good signal and the right direction. The Studierendenwerk also believes that the electricity price brake is the right thing to do. However, we fear that the constellation in the Studierendenwerk was not considered. According to our information, the electricity price brake is intended to enable citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises to use a basic supply at cheaper prices. This should lead to a noticeable relief. We fear that we are not included in this regulation and will fall through the cracks.

For the most part, our students in the dormitories do not sign their own contracts with the energy suppliers. The Studentenwerk, as a commercial customer, buys the energy centrally for the students as private consumers in the dormitories. The students pay a flat rate rent including energy costs to the Studentenwerk. If it is now planned to provide private consumers with a certain quota per year with a price cap, it must be taken into account that the Studierendenwerk sometimes supplies several hundred students via one delivery point. In order for these to benefit from a possible energy price cap, the quota per delivery point would have to be multiplied by the number of dormitory places supplied. A dorm space would have to be treated like a single household, but the quota would have to be held by the student union.

Otherwise, students of limited means in particular would not be relieved, which would be contrary to the purpose of the package. Due to the allocation guidelines for a place in a dormitory of the Studierendenwerk, almost exclusively students with lower financial means live with us.
In 2022, the Studierendenwerk can still absorb the energy costs in the dormitory for the students, but from 01.01.2023 the rents must increase significantly. At least 30 euros per dormitory place and this with the certainty that further increases are more than likely.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to meet our legal mandate of economic and social support for students. Actually, our low-cost services are intended to make it possible for precisely those students to study who would otherwise find it difficult to do so. Against this background, even the announced €200 per student will only help to a limited extent, as it is not even enough to pay the higher incidental costs for one semester. In addition, the other points in the relief package provide little or no relief for students, because regulations for housing and child benefits, midi-jobs and citizen's allowance simply cannot be used by students.

However, it is not just about students in the halls of residence, but about all students. The Studentenwerk also purchases energy for our dining halls, daycare centers, administrative offices and counseling centers. We have already had to accept price increases of over 100 percent. The operation of the dining halls in particular is energy-intensive. In our cafeterias in 2021, as a late consequence of the pandemic, the revenue from the sale of food (€159,230) no longer even covered the cost of the energy required to operate the cafeterias (€195,811). From a purely economic point of view, we would have to close the cafeterias, as adequate price increases would contradict our statutory mission to offer affordable food. In 2022, rising energy prices will make this effect even worse. However, closures would be a fatal signal for us and for the students, especially after Corona. Students urgently need these meeting spaces and the Studierendenwerk is still very much struggling with the consequences of the pandemic.

The Studierendenwerk is not a small, medium-sized company, but a non-profit institution under public law, which is considered a large company under the rules of §267 of the German Commercial Code. For the reasons mentioned above, it is important to also relieve the Studierendenwerke of the high energy costs. This means that the student unions should also be included in the price cap for the part of the energy that does not flow into the halls of residence - analogous to SMEs - so that all students can continue to benefit from the services of the Studentenwerk in these difficult times.
News from 06/10/2022Back to overview