These students are fuming about paying rent for halls they legally can’t return to

‘It’s like they’re just stealing our money and letting us suffer’

In a few days, halls rent payments will fly out of the bank accounts of students who legally can’t use those rooms. And they’re fuming about it.

New government guidance today makes no reference to what will happen to these students and their money. Boris Johnson vaguely pledged to “look at” the issue.

A number of unis – including Sheffield, Loughborough, and KCL – have independently made the decision to refund rent.

But in the meantime, these students are concerned and freaking out – the prospect of paying for rooms they can’t use doesn’t just seem unfair, it’s adding to the stress of an already difficult time, leaving them worried they can’t pay.

‘It’s like they’re just stealing our money and letting us suffer’

Because Amy Broadfoot paid £6,500 up front for her room in Birmingham’s Aitken Halls, there’s not a lot she can do. Rent striking is out of the question for the first year, who studies law and French.

But to make things worse, Amy also pays £54 a week for a meal plan, allowing her to get food on campus. This hasn’t been refunded, despite the fact Amy’s been told to stay away from uni.

“I feel let down by my uni,” she told The Tab, angry at what she sees as a lack of communication and understanding. “It’s a stressful enough time, with all the lockdowns and not knowing when I can go back and get some of my stuff just makes it worse. It’s like they’re just stealing our money and letting us suffer.”

‘I’m very stressed about the whole thing’

Nottingham student Arieanne Masters is in a similar situation. The third year music student pays £114 a week for her room in the uni’s Albion Park halls.

She’s frustrated at being told when to go home, forbidden from coming back, and having to pay rent for the privilege.

“I’m really annoyed about it because my student finance barely covered the rent as it is,” she said.

“Now I’m stuck when I could study from home which I’ve been doing since November.

“I’m very stressed about the whole thing and tired of signing so many petitions with hope that something will change.”

‘We just want the university to acknowledge our voices’

During the period she’s been away from her halls, Birmingham student Caitlyn estimates she’s paid £1,000 for an empty room.

She’s part of a group of students at the uni who are demanding a rent refund for the time they’re not allowed on campus. Caitlyn’s considering holding her rent back, but only as a last resort. Mostly, she shares the angst of many students who, plainly, feel ignored.

“We also just want the university to acknowledge our voices,” she told The Tab.

“Lecturers understand where we are coming from and mine have been very considerate to take into account periods of isolation and missing seminars and extended the time between exams last term but the higher people within the uni are yet to respond.”

The University of Birmingham did not respond to a request for comment.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Updates: These are the unis offering rent rebates for lockdown

No detriment policies aren’t ‘necessary’ this year, says the Russell Group

Unis are paying for VCs’ TV licenses and spending £5k on mowing mansion lawns