Bristol Uni offers students in halls 30 per cent rent rebate for seven weeks
They are also offering more money for bursaries
Bristol Uni is giving students in halls a 30 per cent rent rebate for seven weeks to compensate for the government-mandated staggered return to campus.
They are also implementing a new policy allowing penalty-free contract releases “to reflect the fact that it is better for some students’ physical and mental health not to reside in University accommodation”, and are providing additional bursary money to care leavers, estranged students, and students who are already receiving accommodation bursaries.
These new policies apply to all students in halls, regardless of whether or not they have paid rent up until this point. Two weeks ago, the university emailed students offering a 10 day rent rebate to compensate for the student travel window, but only if full rent is paid by the 1st of February, 2021.
Rent Strike Bristol said in a statement to The Bristol Tab that they are “pleased”, however describe this as a “piecemeal concession”. They accused the university of “strategically” offering a 30 per cent rebate to give the appearance that they are meeting rent striker demands, calling for a 100 per cent rebate for the seven week period.
In a statement to The Bristol Tab, Robert Kerse, Chief Operating Officer of Bristol Uni said that the institution is spending a total of £6.5 million on accommodation provision this academic year, saying they have gone “above and beyond to provide to support to students”.
We want to make it clear that we reject this gross attempt to capitalise off of the hard work student activists are doing. The Brexit Party won't act in the best interests of staff or students, particularly international students, so we reject any semblance of their support. 1/3 https://t.co/WdUdKoeJRO
— Rent Strike Bristol (@RentStrikeBris) November 28, 2020
Over 1200 students are currently on rent strike, withholding over £1 million from the university. Their demands include a 30 per cent rent rebate for the entire academic year, no-penalty contract releases for students in halls, as well as other demands surrounding student wellbeing when in self-isolation.
In a statement to The Bristol Tab, Rent Strike Bristol said: “We are pleased to hear the news from the University that we will be getting a 30 per cent rent rebate for 7 weeks over the Winter period. This shows the power of the strike, and that when we come together, we can win big for students. However, we do not believe that this piecemeal concession from the University is enough.
“Whilst the University use the language 30 per cent reduction, this is strategically done to seem as if they are meeting our demand for a 30 per cent rent reduction for the whole year. Some students will be away from halls until the end of the Government’s travel window on 7th February. For this rebate to be meaningful, the University should be giving us a 100 per cent rebate until the end of this period as large amounts of students will not have access to their halls.
“We are winning more and more, but we will continue to strike through January until the University gives us a 30% rent reduction for the whole year and no-penalty contract releases.”
Two weeks ago, the university came under fire for threatening to take unpaid rent out of student bursaries, only to u-turn 24 hours later following student and media pressure.
Robert Kerse, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Bristol said: “We believe we have gone above and beyond to provide to support to students during this stressful and challenging period.
“We have already committed to a 10 day rent rebate this month for students living in University accommodation in response to the government’s directive for teaching to be moved online between 3 and 9 December.
“We are now offering a 30 per cent rent rebate from 19 December for seven weeks to reflect the latest government advice for a staggered return in the New Year.
“There will also be a new policy to reflect the fact that it is better for some students’ physical and mental health not to reside in University accommodation. Students who are affected in this way will be released from their tenancy penalty free.
“And to make life easier over the holiday period, we will be extending an additional bursary to care leavers, those estranged from their families, and students already in receipt of an accommodation bursary.
“We have always been clear about our plan to offer a blend of online and in-person teaching. This blended learning provision has been created to keep students safe, and to ensure they can still continue with their studies online if they are self-isolating or choose not to come to Bristol.
“We do not make a profit from student rent and all accommodation fees are used for operating, maintaining, and improving the residences. This includes 24/7 pastoral and wellbeing support.
“The overall package of support for students in halls up to the start of next term alone will total over £6.5million, including rent rebates, the provision of free food boxes to self-isolating students, cleaning supplies and laundry services.
“Our entire community has worked tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to provide our students with a high-quality blended learning experience and additional student support. We have consistently done right by our students, acting reasonably and providing rental rebates when education has been moved wholly online as part of the government’s efforts to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
“This continues to be our policy and we will continue to keep lines of communication open with the rent strikers and the Students’ Union.”