Uni of Leeds Freshers: ‘We want to know where our money is going’

We’re fed up of paying so much for a service we’re not getting

When thousands of Freshers and I moved halfway across the country at the start of September to University, we had high hopes. We knew that coronavirus was still mingling around, but had been promised by universities that they would be “offering a mix of face-to-face and online learning.” We signed contracts, confirmed student loans, packed our bags, said goodbye to friends and off we went.

I committed to paying a total of £15388.73 for my first year at university and it’s been a disaster.

Paying £6038.73 to live in a prison

The cost of my self-catered, en-suite room at Leodis Residences, “an attractive modern complex”, with 713 rooms. It is one of the University of Leeds’ largest residences, compromising of nine accommodation blocks. After finding each other on WhatsApp chats, my flatmates and I nervously moved in, excited to see what first year held for us.

The idea of halls, meeting hundreds of people, drinking 24/7, hungover breakfasts and meeting your bestfriends sounded incredible. What we have discovered after 3 months of living in halls is that they are completely the opposite. Yes, I get Covid-19 is still floating around, but we have been completely miss-sold our experience. Common Rooms, gyms, even collecting our post?

My accommodation won’t even receive our post at reception anymore, instead letting delivery drivers leave it by the gates or outside block doors

The general consensus from first-years this year is that halls are a bit of a prison, bombarded with security and sub wardens and often poor quality maintenance. Students have even reported that maintenance and security have “walked into” Covid-19 positive flats without masks, putting themselves and the residents at risk. Frankly, for the costs we are paying, and especially during a global pandemic, many believe the university should be providing more support.

Because of this, students are protesting, fed up with the shitty experience they are having, not specifically because clubs are shut, but because they are locked in rooms, waiting weeks for maintenance and are being shunned away from facilities they were promised.

CutTheRentLDS set up to help get a rent refund

CutTheRentLDS have set up a petition asking for a 30 per cent rent reduction, gaining nearly 5,000 signatures. Since then, they have increased their demands to a 40 per cent rent reduction and a full rebate for the periods where they have been told not to return to university. Luckily, the Uni of Leeds recently told students that some rent may be refundable in university-owned accommodation, but we’re yet to find out the details of this.

A petition calling for a reduction in tuition fees from £9250 to £3000 has over 520,000 signatures. We aren’t happy with this when we could be paying a lot less for a degree from The Open University.

The petition is currently waiting for a debate date and a response from the Government

“A relaxed, safe environment”

The University describe their halls as a “relaxed, safe environment“, but frankly, students are tired of this shit. Extensive cleaning of communal touch points supposedly happens daily, but many residents have voiced their opinions with one stating they had never seen a cleaner in their residence.

With the declining student mental health in halls, lack of proper support during isolation (apart from an email from the warden, a singular 38 second phone call and a flyer of online supermarkets), students have had enough, and are calling for a major increase of support, both for mental health and also whilst isolating.

At one point, 12/14 flats in my block were isolating with COVID, and it was very common to see on the main residences group chat asking for people to collect deliveries and shopping, with the University providing a limited window in which staff could assist with the delivery of groceries.

A lovely addition to this overpriced, cramped room #yummy

University accommodation was not built and designed for a student to be living, sleeping, eating, showering and working 24/7 in. The rooms are cramped, riddled with maintenance issues and are overpriced. Facilities promised including common rooms, bars, gyms and more, which students are paying for, are not being provided, with “COVID” being provided as an excuse, even though safety precautions could be undertaken for facilities to be opened in-line with government guidance.

“Offering a mix of face-to-face and online learning”

Leeds had been great at keeping students updated with their intentions for learning and campus opening schedules. Students were emailed on June 10th 2020, promised a mix of “face-to-face and online learning”, with “teaching in small-group settings, including seminars, tutorials and practicals, [being] delivered face to face on campus whenever it can be done safely.” Sounded great didn’t it? A mixture of on-campus and live, online learning.

An email prospective students received in June

Turns out, that wasn’t the case for most students. I’ve not even stepped foot into my school’s building since I visited Leeds for the Open Day in October 2019. Face-to-face? Nothing. Live learning? I had one 2 hour lecture per week that was live, with the rest pre-recorded. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the course and the lecturers, and the support from the school has been brilliant, but I’m paying £9,250 to to watch screen-recorded PowerPoints.

If I’d have known this in July, I would have deferred, like thousands of other students.

Students should not come back to campus until further notice

Oh, if you’re looking for the cherry on top, you’re in the right place. Leeds Uni tells students not to come back to campus until further notice.

The email we received on NYE, what a treat

Propa bargain, thx boris. Does it get any better? Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, students have now been told to remain at home until at least Mid-February, with most facilities on campus closed. Edward Boyle is currently the only library open to Uni of Leeds students and is operating at a “limited capacity”. Leeds Uni Students have been seen trying to profit off the prized slots, with one on Leeds Students’ Group being offered for £40 (Absolute steal can’t lie, but I best not have a shit seat).

Oh Eddy B, what we have to do to see you now

So, Boris?

So, Boris. I’d love to know where nearly £16,000 is going this year. When I’ve not even stepped foot properly onto campus, had no face-to-face teaching, I’m now sitting exams with not a clue what I’m supposed to be doing and now I can’t even get my fucking post delivered properly to my halls.

Sincerely, a fed up University of Leeds student (on behalf of all students x).

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