95 Bristol students prepare for accommodation rent strike

They need your help – get involved now

More than 85 University of Bristol students (and growing) have declared they are preparing for a rent strike to protest the high rents in university managed accommodation and the increasing marketisation of higher education.

They are calling on all students who share the university as their landlord to join them. Organised with the help of Bristol, Cut the Rent, the students have decided they will only push ahead with the strike if a minimum of 100 students are involved.

Although the strike will mostly be applicable to fresher students, other students still living in Uni accommodation can also get involved.

The strike has been partly inspired by 1000 students at UCL last year who went on rent strike and forced the university into 1.5 million pounds worth of concessions.

A link to the pledge to rent strike for the January 24th payment can be found on the Bristol, Cut the Rent Facebook page here.

The link to the actual pledge can be found here.

You can read the statement that the students are preparing to release to the Vice-Chancellor below:

Students now leave university burdened with more debt than ever before. Rising rents and rising tuition fees are the cause of this debt and we’re saying enough is enough.

We believe the university has a responsibility to its students to ensure decent housing can be accessed at a fair price. We’re demanding urgent action from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol; undergraduate student accommodation prices rose by between 4-5% from 2015/16 to 2016/17; this rise is consistent with a pattern of huge increases for several years, considerably above the rate of inflation.

Put simply, the high rents solicited by University of Bristol’s accommodation services are unfair. More and more students are now either forced by their own university into financial difficulties by unaffordable accommodation fees, or decide not to apply as their financial status becomes an unofficial entry requirement.

We’re also demanding the Vice-Chancellor take urgent action to stop the implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which will allow universities to increase tuition fees yet again.

The TEF is a highly flawed piece of legislation that does not accurately measure the actual quality of teaching – it focuses on student retention and graduate destination – and does nothing to address the real issues affecting teaching, such as the casualization of teaching contracts and overworked staff with increasing class sizes. We, the student body, are tired of being saddled with more and more debt and will not stand for it any longer.

Rising rents and rising tuition fees are part of the same damaging process; the increasing marketisation of higher education. Prospective students will choose their university based not on its facilities, courses, academics, or any other important factor, but instead on its price tag. Universities will be encouraged to seek to extract not the maximum potential from their students, but rather the maximum value.

The students’ demands to the university are:

  1. A retroactive rent cut of 10% for all students currently living in university managed accommodation.
  1. Take urgent action to vastly expand the provision of genuinely affordable student accommodation. We propose rent should be capped for the cheapest standard single room at 70% of the minimum UK maintenance loan, and that the rent for the most expensive standard single room should be capped at 70% of the maximum UK maintenance loan, across all university managed accommodation.
  1. The university must refuse to comply with the second stage of the TEF, must publicly condemn the TEF and commit to no further tuition fee rises, and ensure all future decisions regarding the TEF are made with a greater level of consultation and transparency.

If our demands are not met, we will withhold rent until further notice, beginning with the payments due on January 24th.

We call on all students living in university managed accommodation to not pay their rent until the university takes urgent action to cut the rent and stop the implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework.

We also stand in solidarity with all those affected by the housing crisis, and hope our actions can serve to highlight the need for urgent action by government to abate this crisis.

Simon Bray, Director of Residential and Hospitality Services at the University of Bristol:

“We are currently working with the Students’ Union to agree a residential rent setting policy as we recognise that rents are a significant issue for students. The University does not make a profit from residential accommodation and simply seeks to cover its costs. Every year, we make a number of rooms available at lower rents and we agree the cost of those with the Students’ Union. We have also recently agreed a residential bursary scheme following concerns raised by students last year. We will continue to work with student representatives on this issue.”