Rent strike: Students push for refund, exemption during UK lockdown

Exeter College is part of Oxford University, Oxford, UK

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

National lockdowns across the UK have left many college students, who have returned home on the hook, to pay rent for empty rooms at the school.

Added – and in many cases, costly – frustration for British students is increasing threats of rent strikes.

Are they annoying the time. In December, the government said it would relax Kovid restrictions during the Christmas holiday. Many students followed the security protocol imposed by the government and their universities and returned home.

But last week, officials announced a lockout that prevented most students from returning to campus. For many, this would mean starting the term new university – which in most cases would begin after the lockdown was announced – from home, even if they were still paying to stay back in school.

Their agony parallels that of students around the world during the Kovid-19 epidemic. Last year, many were suddenly asked to return home and study online. The US threatened to limit student visas. And this fall, many universities attempted to open individual classrooms, only to witness the outbreak of outbreaks.

“If you pay for another service and it is not happening, you will be refunded,” said Katie O’Kelly, a master’s student at University College London.

The 23-year-old signed a 12-month contract for a private rented room in London last year. She went home for Christmas, believing that she would be able to return to her residence after the holiday. But the sudden announcement of lockdown rules means her rented room is still empty as she is home in Berkshire, about an hour from the city.

O’Kelly estimates she will pay a total of 7,200 pounds ($ 9,700) a room rent this year, which has been used far less than she had imagined so far.

Similar frustrations are threatening to attack thousands of students across the country. Organizers say some 15,000 have joined the Rent Strike Now campaign, which encourages students to rent accommodation not used during the Kovid lockdown.

On Monday, Unite Students, the UK’s largest private provider of student accommodation, announced a 50% discount on fares for eligible students for four weeks. (In the UK, it is not uncommon for students attending public universities to live in dormitories run by private companies.)

Some universities have also started responding. University College London said it would not hire students who are unable to return to the dormitory or other university-managed accommodation. The University of Manchester, Cambridge and the University of Exeter have said the same.


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