Letter from SFA CTU Director

Dear Accommodation Users,  

Any increase in dormitory fees is always unpleasant and difficult to understand for the accommodated students. It is even harder in a situation when some of the dormitories are not in good condition. Unfortunately, the current situation in the Czech Republic, particularly the increase in utility prices, prices of services and labour, forces us to increase dormitory fees once again. This means that the increase in dormitory fees cannot be directly linked to any improvement of the quality of accommodation at our dormitories. The good news is that after many years, the condition of the dormitories has become a subject widely discussed by the faculty management and the entire Czech Technical University. The dormitories are slowly becoming a priority for the university.

In relation to this, I would like to invite you to a public meeting, which will be held on 1 March at 6 p.m. at the university cafeteria in Strahov. This was not originally meant to have been a discussion regarding the new dormitory fee price list, it should have been a public discussion about general developments concerning the dormitories, which has been planned for some time, depending how much time the key participants had. But the situation has forced a different scenario on us.

I have carefully read the comments left by people discussing the issue on social networks and in the signed petition. I am only now issuing a statement because the situation is very dynamic and changes from minute to minute. This may give the impression of delayed communication, but I consider it irresponsible to provide incomplete information or inform of situations that could still change (such as the fixed payment for electricity, which will actually not be increased). We will answer any additional questions at the public discussion.

Why is a fixed payment for electricity being implemented?

We are not implementing a fixed payment for electricity at this time. The CTU has newly contracted electricity supplies for 2023 under a system where the price per kWh may change every month. The monthly average is calculated on the basis of the spot market index. Some dormitories also have different suppliers, therefore the different prices, and even if multiple buildings have the same supplier, the price for individual dormitories still differs (depending on the volume of the commodity supplied to the specific building). The methodology for payment of spot prices of electricity was discussed again with the Energy Regulation Authority, particularly with regard to the method of re-invoicing electricity from multiple suppliers. The price list of payments remains unchanged at this time even with regard to the price of electricity in January and we are continuing to discuss the method of charging spot prices with the respective authorities.

Why are dormitory fees being increased again when the prices were increased by 15% in September 2022?

The increase in dormitory fees last year reflected the increase in SFA CTU’s costs, which have risen over the last 10 years and which the SFA CTU did not respond to by increasing dormitory fees in the past. Inflation from 2012 until 2022 totalled 40.8%. Compared to this, dormitory fees actually increased twice. First of all by approx. 8.9% and last year by 16%. After including this year’s 15% increase, this will result in a total increase in prices by 45.6%. This means that dormitory fees have actually increased by 4.8% in the last eleven years.

All utility prices paid by the SFA CTU have increased. This means gas, heat and water in addition to electricity.  In addition, the SFA CTU receives direct payment from clients for just some of the electricity that is consumed at the dormitories. The proposal for an increase in dormitory fees last year was planned from January 2022 to be as accurate as possible and to reflect all areas. It only came into force with the new academic year. The SFA CTU made substantial cuts during the Covid period, despite which it made a loss in both 2020 and 2021. Income from the increased dormitory fee should also be used to improve the condition of the dormitories. We could not have predicted such a massive increase in prices for utilities or for services, which the CTU had newly contracted, etc. last year.

The SFA CTU is forced to react to this situation. Part of the financial reserves created in 2022 will be expended on completing the Bubeneč dormitory, where the cost of renovation increased compared to the original budget by approx. CZK 30 million, and part will be used to purchase new furnishings for the aforementioned renovated dormitory. 

What will the funds from the increased dormitory fee be used for?

The funds collected on dormitory fees will be used to cover the increased costs of the SFA CTU, which are mainly used for utilities, services and wages in relation to operation of the dormitories. The method of obtaining funding for revitalising the dormitories from other sources is being actively discussed at the CTU.

What do you mean by revitalisation of the dormitories?

Revitalisation of rooms at the Strahov dormitory should consist of complete renovation of all surfaces (floors, plaster, including painting), replacement of entrance doors, including door frames, and replacement of room furniture with new furniture. Sample rooms have already been completed at block 11, where the new concept is being tested. Revitalisation will also include renovation of the sanitary facilities, kitchenettes and laundry facilities. Quality, service life and functionality play a major role during acquisition of furniture, not just the price. 

The individual dormitories report large profits. Why is this not reflected in their quality?

Information about the economic results of the individual dormitories, which is published regularly in the CTU Annual Management Reports, does not provide all the information about the actual economic results of the dormitories. The table contains nearly all the income, but only some of the costs related to operation of the dormitories. The SFA CTU’s overheads and repair and maintenance expenses are not given at all in the table. The overall economic results of the SFA CTU in 2021 were (as a result of the pandemic) a loss of CZK 8 million. 

There have been issues with maintenance at the dormitories for some time now. In particular, there is mould present in the buildings at Strahov, which nothing is being done about, even after it has been reported. How is this possible?

Organisational changes were made last year. The maintenance Department was transferred under the immediate competence of the manager of the Strahov complex. The number of maintenance workers was also increased substantially. These changes should also lead to gradual improvement of conditions at the dormitories at Strahov.

Problems with mould were discussed during the public meeting held on 22 November 2022 at the Strahov university. The director of the ECOSAN sanitation company, Mr Zavadil, described the issues in relation to the fight against not just bedbugs, but also mould. The company’s employees, including himself, are collecting samples of the mould from the Strahov dormitory, cultivating them and fighting them with a unique fungus, which feeds on the mould. This will take some time, but the issue is being actively dealt with.

He also mentioned cooperation by our accommodated clients. Moulds form where there is a lot of moisture.  This means that brief, but intensive ventilation is required. If the mould is registered in the defect journal and disappears after being reported, this means that the issue is being dealt with. New application of the fungus, treatment of the affected area, etc.
Thank you for reporting any defects so that we can deal with them and also for intensive ventilation of not only your rooms, but also the common areas of the bathrooms and kitchenettes, in order to prevent growth of mould.

Will there be any more discussions where the annual economic management reports, for example, will be discussed?
Yes, there will. We plan on repeating the public meeting once every three months, unless the situation requires an acute solution. There may be more frequent public meetings in the case of acute issues. 
Michal Vodička