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Lancaster University offers another £400 ‘goodwill’ payment to rent strikers

The university has made another concession to student strikers

Lancaster University has today announced that it is offering a further £400 “goodwill” payment to students withholding their rent for campus accommodation that they are yet to return to.

This is on top of the university offering students a £400 payment as a recompense for being unable to return to campus accommodation after The Tab Lancaster found that a majority of students were rejecting the original “goodwill” payment. In an email sent today, Lancaster University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andy Schofield, said: “Since I wrote previously, the Government has extended the period before which the majority of students can consider returning to campus from mid-February to at least 8th March. We continue to work out the best way we can use the remaining time before Easter to progress your degree, and you will hear from us about this in due course.

“I recognise that in following Government instruction it means those of you who have not returned to your campus accommodation face a longer time where you are unable to access the rooms you have rented from the University. In view of that, the University’s governing group, Council, has approved a further goodwill payment to those students who have not returned before 8 March of £400 which is in addition to the initial sum of £400.

“Separately the University has also enhanced the mental health provision for all students and continues to ensure that any student who is in financial difficulty has easy access to support from the University. This is being supplemented by additional resource coming from the Government for hardship support. My priority is the welfare of our students at this difficult time, and we continue to work with the Students’ Union to ensure that support for health and finance is easily accessible.”

Many students feel that the university has been unfair in its reduction of services, such as the campus library

Notably, the university is yet to acknowledge those students living on campus whom are participating in the rent strike as a result of “reduced services” available on campus. The students living on campus are striking due to the fact that they were “lured back to campus with the false promise that in person teaching would be a feature of student life this year,” and the official Lancaster Rent Strike campaign is demanding a 50 per cent rent reduction for students whom have returned to campus in the hope of accessing certain services on campus.

When contacted regarding campus services, Lancaster University said: “We do not make a profit from student accommodation. Income raised from rents are used to service accommodation and for improving its quality and facilities. The University generally operates on tight margins and under normal circumstances, as a registered charity, we channel any surpluses back into projects that benefit the student experience, develop our campus and maintain high staff student ratios. 

“It may also be helpful to explain that the majority of Lancaster’s accommodation is operated by a national company called UPP. The University is contractually obliged to transfer the full rent from accommodation whether students are able to be in residence or not and thus the full impact of the goodwill payment is being borne by the University.

“Tuition fees fund: academic staff  in their teaching and Professional Services staff  who support students and help run departments. They also go towards running the university , Professional services staff and our scholarships and bursaries and insurance. Fees go towards funding the Library, the counselling, wellbeing and mental health service, our IT support and disability team among others. The cost of the upkeep of our campus, including grounds, building repairs and electricity, water and gas.”

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