Student Co-op Homes is looking for new board members

Are you passionate about Co-operatives and have time to volunteer for the movement?

Do you want to challenge the status quo of the housing market, develop skills and meet like-minded people?

Do you have skills in finance, accounting, fundraising or property acquisition/management?

Student Co-op Homes is looking for 3 Directors on a temporary basis until the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which will be held in February 2022, with the possibility of standing for election from February 2022. 

This voluntary position is suited to people who care about the co-operative movement and want to be a part of building a thriving and large scale student housing co-operative movement. We are looking for people with time they are willing to volunteer to the movement, and skills which complement the current Board’s skillsets, notably; financial skills, accountancy, fundraising and property acquisition/management. This is a great way to gain experience, meet like-minded people and make a meaningful contribution to Student Co-operative Homes and our mission.

Find more information on SCH’s website.


Community share offer aims to create vibrant student co-op housing market

Via Co-op News 

‘The more we raise, the more properties we can buy – and the more students will benefit from living in student housing co-ops’


National body Student Co-op Homes (SCH) is today (10 October) launching a community share offer that aims to grow a vibrant co-op housing market in the UK – and cultivate the next generation of co-operators.

Today’s students in higher education face increasing pressure, debt and mental health challenges, it says, arguing that student housing co-ops are a solution that can break the cycle of high-cost, poor-quality private rents that drive up debt and exacerbate poor health.

“Housing co-ops are affordable, not-for-profit homes that students manage and maintain themselves,” it said. “There are no landlords and everyone works together for mutual benefit. They provide the conditions to nurture new generations of resilient, healthy graduates who can enter the workforce and shape society from a stronger position.”

There are currently three student housing co-ops operating in the UK – in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield. Already, graduates from these co-ops have gone on to form co-operative enterprises and live and work in co-ops.

Other student housing co-ops have been set up in Glasgow, Nottingham and Brighton but are struggling to buy property in a competitive market. SCH is launching the community share offer to raise up to £2,000,000 from investors so it can buy properties to lease to these student housing co-ops at affordable rates. It is SCH’s ambition is to increase the number of beds offered in student housing co-ops from 120 to 10,000.

Fay Arnold, who lived in a student co-op house in Birmingham, said she had armed herself with valuable life skills, as well as a degree in computer systems engineering.

“The amount of DIY, admin and finance knowledge I’ve learned, it’s amazing,” she added. “I can reasonably do most simple DIY with no sweat now.

“It’s something I’m really happy about. And they’re skills I can use further down the line, and to teach to other people.”

Vivian Woodell, director of Student Co-op Homes, said: “We are urging people and organisations to invest in our share offer so we can raise vital funds to break the cycle of poor-quality, high-cost student rents and vastly improve the lives of young people in higher education.

“The more we raise, the more properties we can buy – and the more students will benefit from living in student housing co-ops that give them valuable life skills, better physical and mental health, less debt and a better start to their working lives.”

Student Co-op Homes has been supported by Co-operatives UK, the national trade body for co-ops. Ed Mayo, secretary general, said: “It’s not just for the students’ benefit, the housing co-ops are helping to shape a group of graduates who are ready to enter the workforce with experience in community and co-operative values. They are the next generation of co-operators who can help to shape a fairer, more just economy to benefit us all.”

Community share offers are a popular approach to raising finance, in which people and organisations invest large or small sums of money and become co-owners of vital enterprises – from affordable housing to community pubs to green energy.

The SCH community share offer is now live at Follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook @NoMoreLandlords.

Tenants Rights discussion with Living Rent & the Greens


We were really glad to be invited to the Glasgow University Scottish Greens’ event Tenants’ Rights: Rents, Housing, and Alternatives in Glasgow on Monday evening. An activist from Living Rent was there to tell us about the development of Scotland’s tenants union, and their recent direct action around fungus-plagued PRS homes, and local Green councillor Christy Mearns talked about the possible future of Rent Pressure Zones in Glasgow.

It’s always exciting to learn about the different strands of housing action working in tandem to change the position of tenants, and the discussion on Monday brought up a lot of the potential challenges and opportunities on the horizon. It’s hard not to be cynical about the housing situation in our city, but imagining a future where good quality affordable housing is the norm, more tenants are taking control through co-ops, comprehensive rent controls stop the unlivable PRS inflation, and our housing needs are prioritized over profit-motive, makes it easier to engage with the work that needs done to get there. There’s definitely the will and energy to tackle the problems so many of us face renting, and seeing the country’s tenants’ union keep growing to new strengths and the policy debate widening to consider a first step towards rent control reaffirms our belief in our collective ability to push for and actualize our goals.

While Living Rent and the potential Rent Pressure Zones (the council is undertaking a feasibility study, to be completed in 2018) are oriented more towards changing the private renting, and the Glasgow Student Housing Co-op towards creating alternatives to the PRS, we reckon both approaches are key to undermining the current widespread situation – the centering of power in the hands of landlords to the serious detriment of tenants. We’ll definitely be following the progress of both, and look forward to all the possibilities for co-operation among everyone fighting for better housing in Glasgow!

How our meetings work

The Glasgow Student Housing Co-op meets every week to go over any business related to the project. We usually meet on the Glasgow University campus and go over an agenda that has been compiled before the meeting. Any member can bring any business and/or concerns they believe are important. Meetings last anywhere between an hour to two hours, depending on how much needs to be discussed. We like to keep our meetings short and to the point and sometimes go for a pint after to catch up. Our meetings are open to the public so if you are a student and want to find out more about what we do and why we do it just check our facebook page ‘Glasgow Student Housing Co-op’ for the time, date and venue of our next meeting. We’d love to see you there!


Our First Ever AGM!

Glasgow Student Housing Co-operative recently held our first ever Annual General Meeting! This was a really exciting milestone for us, and it gave everyone a chance to reflect on just how far we’ve come since GSHC started almost a year ago. Members spent some time during the meeting discussing things ranging from our finances to how we plan on recruiting new members this academic year.


Although a lot of very important discussions were had during the meeting, I’m sure that all of us agree (consensus, baby! now that’s what I’m talking about!) that the highlight of the event was our social afterwards. Everyone was very hungry after all of that co-op talk so we headed to The Hug and Pint in the West End of Glasgow where there was some great food and even better company, and after that we headed to a pub just around the corner.

It is truly incredible to think that this time last year, everyone involved in this project were complete strangers, and now our co-op has grown into a caring and supportive community in which friendships extend beyond just co-op business. Cue very cute pictures of some of our lovely members:

Thankfully, the night didn’t end there! Some of us then went out to bust a move and cut some shapes in Glasgow city centre. It’s a shame the DJ didn’t play everyone’s favourite song about cooperation from Sesame Street – that would have gone down a TREAT. We had to settle for Beyoncé’s ‘Bootylicious’ instead. Unfortunately there aren’t any pictures of this part of the night; we were all far too busy twerking.

I think it is safe to say that Glasgow Student Housing Co-op’s very first AGM was a huge success. Here’s to many more!

Voluntary and Open Membership


The first of the co-operative principles is Voluntary and Open membership, defined by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in this sentence:

“Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.”

All the members of Glasgow Student Housing Co-op are have chosen to become a member and participate in working towards our shared goal on a voluntary basis. It’s impossible to force someone to join a co-op as then it would not truly be a co-op.

We normally hold a general meeting once per week and have extra meeting when we need them, for example if we have a deadline or event coming up that we need to spend more time preparing for. At times, this can be quite a big commitment, especially as everyone has other things to do including studying, work, involvement with other groups and many other things.

So why are our members involved?

Each member has their own reasons for choosing to spend (sometimes a lot of) their spare time trying to set up a housing co-op. Some of the main reasons are that we are unhappy with current housing provision offered for students, high rents, lack of choice and lack of control over decisions about our environment. We would like to see more sustainable housing models both in terms of environmental and social sustainability.

How do members benefit from being involved in the co-op?

The main reason, of course, is that we hope to be able to secure a building and live in the co-op during our time as a student. However, we are all are aware that this may not happen before we finish our studies but are still keen to be involved and make progress so that Glasgow Student Housing Co-op can be continued by other students after we have left university.

There are also lots of other benefits of being a member of the co-op and working on the many and varied steps we need to take to fully set up the co-op. These include learning new skills, meeting new people, forming friendships, being part of the co-operative movement and working with other student housing co-ops to try to raise the profile of housing co-ops for students nationally.

Voluntary membership means that members can also leave if and when they want to. So far, Glasgow Student Housing Co-op has retained nearly all of its members who are still living in Glasgow which we think is a really good sign!

Open to all

 Since the first co-ops were formed over one hundred years ago, anti-discrimination has been a very important value and co-ops have a history of including people who were otherwise excluded from society. Co-ops don’t really say no to people wanting to join without a very good reason.

How does GSHC work towards being open to all?

We have a Safer Spaces policy and are working on Equality and Diversity policy. We will soon start working together on a code of conduct for members. Having all of these in place helps to keep inclusion at the forefront of members’ minds and we will continue to review our policies and practices to ensure that they are anti- discriminatory.

 Able to use their services

Although it is extremely important to ensure that Glasgow Student Housing Co-op is open to all and does not discriminate against people, it is permissible to set criteria for membership. This is because many types of co-op, including housing co-ops, can only effectively serve a limited number of people with a specific need. Glasgow Student Housing Co-op will only be open to student members who study at one of the universities or colleges in Glasgow. Despite this, we are very keen to work with other co-ops who have different focuses and remits for membership to share skills and resources.

 Willing to accept the responsibilities of membership

 Choosing to be a member of Glasgow Student Housing Co-op also comes with responsibilities. Part of being a voluntary member is being willing to accept duties that are essential for the setting up and running the co-op. In a co-op, the members have control over all the decisions that need to be made which can be empowering but also means everyone needs to participate in meetings and make decisions. These duties must be carried out freely and willingly.

 This leads to the second Co-operative Principle, Democratic Member Control, which we will look at in more detail on the next post.

GSHC & Scottish Housing Day

Today is Scottish Housing Day.

Scottish Housing Day aims to raise public awareness of the latest developments in housing, different options available when deciding where to live and give people easier access to the resources they need to make properly informed housing decisions. One of this year’s themes is addressing the specific challenges facing younger people, a demographic that many students fall into.

we're supporting SHD

According to the Student Living Index, compiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Glasgow is the least affordable city for students in the UK. One of the biggest expenses for many students is rent. Regardless of whether you live in a shared flat or in halls, rents are increasing and the standard of the accommodation received in return often doesn’t reflect this.

Many students, especially those who have just moved to Glasgow from abroad or are leaving home for the fist time, aren’t fully aware of their rights as a tenant. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation from unscrupulous landlords. Rents are expensive, often repairs aren’t done quickly (or at all) and most people we have spoken to have one or two horror stories about their time spent renting as a student.

Earlier in the year we built a house (unfortunately too small for us to move into) to record peoples’ thoughts about the project and about co-ops in general.  On the back of our house we have been collecting stories from students about problems they’ve experienced living in the private rented sector.


Here are some of the highlights:

My ex-landlord altered a contract on Photoshop after we’d signed it.

Failed to tell us about the rat infestation.

My landlord kept it a secret that my kitchen floor had fallen through.

My ex-landlord made me live in mouldy conditions.

An electrician said the wiring in my flat was unsafe and the landlord never fixed it.

Getting threatened with eviction for no reason.

My current landlord avoided fixing our heating for almost two years despite constant haranguing.

My previous landlord wasn’t a registered landlord and we didn’t sign a contract. When we found out about the cockroach infestation he asked us to speak to the other tenants in the building ourselves to come up with a solution.

My ex-landlord wouldn’t speak to women.

My landlord’s ex-husband let himself in without asking and tried to talk to us about the breakdown of his marriage.

It’s clear that students, as well as many others living in the private rented sector, are often unsatisfied with their homes and receive a poor service from their landlords. We believe that housing co-ops, which are controlled democratically by the tenant members, are a solution to this problem.

In a co-op, the building is either owned by or leased by the co-op, not an individual. Each tenant is a member of the co-op and has an equal say in how decisions are made, meaning that all of the tenants collectively take on the role of the landlord and are responsible for how the co-op is run. This covers everything from how to decorate to ensuring that rent is collected, recruiting new members, organising repairs, solving problems and how best to engage with the local community.

Housing co-ops empower students to make decisions that affect them everyday. Co-ops give students more control to ensure their needs such as access and affordable rent are met. Any surplus collected from rent is put back into the running of the co-op for improvements to the building, community activities and securing new buildings for future expansion. Co-op members learn a wide range of skills from DIY to strategic planning, working together and making important decisions. Living cooperatively can increase the well being of residents and allows then to become part of the community. This is often lacking in student halls and areas with lots of student flats causing tension with non-student residents in the area.


To mark Scottish Housing Day we took part in the Viewfield Lane Festival which was put on by Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team as part of Fresher’s Week. As well as our house, we brought along lots of information about co-ops, some vegan biscuits (house shaped, of course) and held a craft workshop where visitors to our stall could use ribbon and clothes pegs to make a decoration for their bedroom, helping to personalise it for the start of the new term.


The idea behind this craft was to provide a way to display pictures that causes minimal damage to the wall as private landlords often discourage you from using screws, nails, pins or blue tack to display pictures and will keep part of your deposit if they see a mark on the wall when you leave! In most student halls, they are banned completely! This means it can be difficult to make a space feel like your own, particularly if you are going to be living there for a limited time and aren’t keen on magnolia walls.

It was great to see how creative people can be with a few clothes pegs, pens and stickers and we hope that everyone enjoys their new room décor!

We spoke to students, most of whom didn’t know much about co-ops or how they work, but people were enthusiastic and we hope some of them will come along to one of our meetings to find out more.

It’s important to raise awareness of co-ops because even though students may not become involved in Glasgow Student Housing Co-op, there are so many opportunities where co-ops can provide a better alternative to the status quo in housing, work, retail the possibilities are endless so the more people who know about co-ops, the better!

Renting, Venting and Change – Saturday 23rd September 2017

We will also be taking part in another Scottish Housing Day event this Saturday, Renting, Venting and Change which is being put on by Shelter Scotland and Living Rent. We will be talking about how co-ops can be an alternative to renting from the private sector and giving an update on what we have achieved so far.

The event is free to attend. Find out more and register here:

Shelter Scotland- Renting, Venting and Change


The Co-operative Principles

The co-operative principles are common to all co-ops throughout the world and provide a set of guidelines that help us to put our values into practice. The principles are written into the rules under which we are constituted and inform the governance of Glasgow Student Housing Co-op as well as helping us to ensure our policies are in keeping with the core values of co-operatives.

The co-operative principles are:

  1. Voluntary and open membership
  2. Democratic member control
  3. Member economic participation
  4. Autonomy and independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Co-operation among co-operatives
  7. Concern for community

We have been told by a few wise and experienced co-operators that the first four principles are what makes a co-op, a co-op and the last three are what makes a co-op a good co-op. We strive to be a good co-op and think all seven are very important.

Over the next few weeks we will be looking at each of the principles in more detail and reflecting on how we put them into practice.

Here’s a cute poster from the Seeds for Change website about the Co-op principles & values.




10 Months of Co-operation

Glasgow Student Housing Co-op isn’t yet one year old (I shouldn’t even be thinking about cute house-shaped birthday cake until October) but the momentum it’s grown with fools me into forgetting that. When I went along to the co-op’s second meeting (dark cold night, half a dozen strangers in a classroom, awkwardness) we collectively had almost no clue what we were doing. The path between that room in the Boyd Orr and realising our utopian-feeling collective housing dream (growing vegetables, painting the walls, co-op parties) was foggy at best at that point, but we jumped in and started reading up on everything from the Rochdale Pioneers to project management.

By early 2017 (once we’d had some member bonding over a trip to the Edinburgh Student Housing Co-op and a ska basement night) the co-op was looking more and more like a Real Thing. We learned the lingo (signing off emails ‘in co-operation’ is cool in some circles) and the legal framework, we met with the council’s Co-operative Development Unit and visited other co-ops, we practiced our consensus decision making and cooked shared meals. We got organised and got incorporated.

Incorporation took me by surprise because it seemed so formal, and I’d never heard of the Financial Conduct Authority, let alone dealt with their paperwork and requirements. As a naïve wee anti-authoritarian I didn’t imagine I’d be so buzzed when the letter from them arrived, with our registration details and the certified copy of our governing documents. Becoming a legally recognised co-op has made all the steps between here and having a co-op home to cover in anti-landlord posters possible – apparently a co-op needs to legally exist to have a bank account, and needs a bank account to buy a house, for example.

Another co-op milestone we achieved, similarly by stumbling into it with no experience and a firm faith in DIY, and channelling our collective energy into the task until it was done, was our first business plan in February. Over a fortnight of long nights and a ridiculous learning curve (ask me anything about the student private rental market in Glasgow, go on) we turned the blank document optimistically named ‘Business Plan Draft’ months before into a formatted, sourced, 23-page masterpiece (passable business plan). It’s hard to communicate how proud I am of that first draft without sounding like a complete nerd, but we did well.

I got similarly enthusiastic about the co-op Governance and Financial Management training we received thanks to a speed-written funding application we made to the Co-operative Development Unit. I barely passed high school maths (don’t worry, I’m the exception and GSHC has all the numerical ken it needs thanks to other members) but even accounting spreadsheets became fascinating to me, because they were now one of the tools necessary for turning our objective into a physical reality. They also reinforced the confidence in our project that talking to members of other student housing co-ops gave us – the numbers add up, this can actually happen.

Being a member of GSHC has been a balance of becoming weirdly knowledgeable and competent in the context of student housing co-operatives, and of having loads of fun with it. We’ve gone to conferences; held a networking event and a fundraising gig (gorgeous music, anti-landlord chat, dancing!); had dozens of meetings and agendas and thousands of oreos; revised the business plan and financial projections; applied for funding, had strategic planning days; held stalls; given a talk at Strathclyde Uni; learned ceilidh dancing; written policies; done days of desk research. I don’t want to know how many hours of co-op work I’ve done already this year, but I know they’ve all been more energising and amusing than working on normal terms (bosses, competition, the way wages coerce us and construct our non/value) ever feels.