The panel of judges of an award for student accommodation providers has refused to select a winner because none of the nominees offer affordable housing, they claim.
In an open letter to the organisers of the Property Week Student Accommodation Awards, the judges of the Student Experience category, who are all students themselves, said they could not come to a decision.
"Unfortunately, none of the entrants could demonstrate that they are meeting the urgent need of students to live in accommodation that will not force them into poverty," said the letter, posted to Twitter by Jenny Killin, one of the judges and a student at Aberdeen University.
"Most entrants price their cheapest rooms above the national average of £146 per week, and certainly above a level which student maintenance loans will reasonably cover. Many charge rents of more than £300 per week.
"High rents are driving the social cleansing of education. Working class students are being priced out: unable to access higher education altogether, or forced to work long hours, disadvantaging the poorest. We urge all providers to invest in affordable accommodation so that the future of higher education is open to all, regardless of parental income."
The Student Accommodation Awards ceremony will take place on December 7 at The London Marriott Hotel. It is the inaugural set of awards. Categories include University Halls of Residence, Private Halls of Residence, and Developer of the Year.
"We completely respect the decision of the judging panel not to make an award in this category," said a statement from the Student Accommodation Awards.
"Developers and operators of student accommodation strive to produce the very best environment for students but our student judges have sent a clear message that the industry needs to do better."
The statement said organisers had decided to remove the Student Experience category this year and review it in 2017. Future awards will include a category for the best affordable student housing, organisers added.