New Student rent strike at the University of Bristol

Their demands have been sent to the Vice-Chancellor

Students at the University of Bristol, supported by Bristol, Cut the Rent, have gone on rent strike and are refusing to pay until demands for affordable rents are met by the university.

The rent strike is in response to consistent rent hikes at the university for several years, which in some cases have gone up by as much as 25% over the last 5 years. Rents went up on average by 4.5% from 2015/16 to 2016/17, and rents are due to be raised yet again by another 3.5% for 2017/18.

The high rents charged by the university have a real and lasting impact upon the welfare of the student population and serve as major barrier to the university’s supposed ambition to widen participation to students from low-income backgrounds. Payments will continue to be withheld by students until their demands are met, and further actions are planned to further highlight the need for affordable rents.

Representatives from Bristol, Cut the Rent and Bristol SU have previously met with university senior management and expressed their discontent with the university’s rent setting policies; it seems as if senior management do not care as they have showed no willingness to rethink their plans, and the students feel as if they have little choice but to rent strike.

The students’ statement to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol is below:

“We believe the University of Bristol has a responsibility to its students to ensure decent housing can be accessed at a fair price. 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.

Our demands are as follows:

  1. Full transparency. The University must release detailed accounts of the running and maintenance costs of student accommodation, and make clear to students where their money goes. All future housing contracts with private sector providers such as UNITE must be subject to full student consultation as we believe people must always come before profit.
  2. A restoration of 2015/16 rent levels for all students in university accommodation in 2016/17 and 2017/18, which would mean an average rent cut of around 4.5%.
  3. The university, in full consultation with students, needs to urgently and radically re-examine its rent setting policies to ensure students in university accommodation from 2018/19 have access to genuinely affordable rents. The university’s current definition of affordability is woefully inadequate and serves as a major barrier to equal access to education.”

To contact Bristol, Cut the Rent: please message the Bristol, Cut the Rent facebook page or email [email protected]

The University’s statement can be found below:

“The University does not make a profit from residential accommodation and simply seeks to cover its costs.

“The price of accommodation is similar to that charged by universities in the other cities in the south of England and is competitive against private rented accommodation in Bristol.

“We recognise that accommodation is a significant cost for students, and this year we have worked with the Students’ Union with the aim of establishing rent setting principles.

“Every year, we make a number of rooms available at lower rents and we consult with our Students’ Union on the cost of those. We have also recently agreed a residential bursary scheme for students joining us from households with a low income.

“We are always looking at ways to improve efficiency to provide the most cost effective service we can, and will continue to work with student representatives on this issue.”