‘I’m ashamed of Lancaster’: Students react to the end of the rent strike

‘It was way too optimistic to really think that we could make that possible’

As the news that the Lancaster Rent Strike had been called off, there were mixed emotions felt by students. The main questions everyone was asking were: Was it successful? Did the strike achieve what it set out to do? Were the strikers’ demands too much, or too little?

We decided to ask Lancaster students exactly how they felt about the rent strike, and our poll told us that nearly 70 per cent of students who took part in the poll did not take the university’s second “goodwill” payment. However, this was not enough for the rent strike to continue, as roughly only 400 people signed the form to withhold their rent again. So what did students think of this?

“We, as students, are entitled to more”

James, a first year Cartmel student, told The Tab Lancaster: “I’m disappointed in so many Lancaster students accepting an inadequate payment.” Whilst he says he “[doesn’t] blame certain students for taking what they could get,” he said that “£800 is still inadequate.” Many students share this view, as for some this doesn’t even cover half of this term’s rent when they haven’t stayed in their accommodation for any of it due to current restrictions on travelling to Lancaster.

“Of course it is cancelled, be realistic”

One first year Pendle student, James, told us he “didn’t believe in the rent strike [as he] knew it would be so difficult to change the management’s opinion.” Some students think the same, especially as the uni has reported being financially unstable, one of the many reasons Lancaster gave as to why they couldn’t grant higher reductions to accommodation payments.

James continued: “Sincerely, I support it… but it was way too optimistic to really think that we could make that possible.”

“A sad end to my uni experience”

Georgia, a fourth year student from Grizedale, told us how “it feels as though the university has succeeded at putting a value on us – we are just pieces of profit to them.” Many students don’t feel as if Lancaster adequately supports them, and Georgia highlights the ending of the rent strike exacerbating this problem. “I’m ashamed of Lancaster and annoyed and upset that this is how my final year is playing out.”

“I’m going to be paying fees for accommodation that I’m not getting to live in”

Lucy, a Grizedale first year, said: “It’s such a shame that more people didn’t stick with it.” The rent strike’s peak of support was 1,300 students, the drastic reduction to only 400 meant the strike couldn’t safely resume without risking the university taking actions against individual students.

She also told us: “my friends from other unis don’t have to pay if they aren’t living in their accommodation, so it all just feels unfair.”

“This is very upsetting”

Siobhan, a third year international student, told us how she “returned home in March 2020 and did not return due to Covid and mental health concerns.” She said she “tried to communicate with the uni but only got bureaucratic responses. Therefore I was rather shocked when a lot [of] people actually accepted the £800 offer.”

“[As a student] who didn’t use the accommodation at all, this is very upsetting.” Siobhan echoes the concerns of students now paying more than half their rent for a room they aren’t living in.

“It should have been a percentage offer”

Emily, a Bowland first year, said that some will be “compensated a lot more than [others] as there is such a difference between prices in rents.”

“Everyone should just be refunded for the time they didn’t spend on campus.” She says, something the majority of students agree with.

“Cheated and alone”

Miles, a Bowland first year, responded to our poll and said: “I’m on campus and I haven’t gotten anything from the strike despite not having access to most of the [uni] services.” Many on-campus students are angered by the fact that Lancaster hasn’t offered any monetary support to those students, and instead focused on giving the £800 “goodwill” payment solely to those off-campus.

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