Leeds students to go on rent strike after tense meeting with uni management

‘The university’s representatives refused to take accountability for their actions or apologise’

A group of students at the University of Leeds will now go on a rent strike following a tense meeting with Senior Management at the university.

This morning, Cut The Rent Leeds met with members of Leeds University management along with two SU officers to discuss its demands for a rent refund for students living in university-owned accommodation.

Cut The Rent Leeds is demanding a 40 per cent rent reduction for the academic year 2020/21, a full rebate for the entire time students have been told not to live in uni accommodation, and permission for students to leave uni accommodation contracts early without facing any punishment.

Senior Management emphatically rejected every single one of these demands prompting Cut The Rent Leeds to announce that students will now begin to withhold rent.

Cut The Rent Leeds says that over 150 students have told the student-led organisation they are willing to withhold rent, equating to at potential total of £322,000 being withheld from the university.

A spokesperson for Cut The Rent Leeds told The Leeds Tab: “After today’s meeting with Leeds University the students from our movement are wholeheartedly disappointed and frustrated.

“The university’s representatives refused to take accountability for their actions or apologise.

“They do not appear willing to negotiate our demands at all, citing concerns surrounding money despite consistently placing financial gain above student safety and experience.

“An unwillingness to communicate or alter positions on their part has left us no choice but to rent strike.

“Their dismissive attitude and carelessness within this meeting and throughout the academic year has been incredibly unsatisfactory.”

A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said: “The health and wellbeing of our University community remains our top priority as we adapt to the latest Government guidelines during the pandemic. 

“We understand the frustration felt by some of our students as a result of restrictions imposed by the national lockdown and will continue to work closely with Leeds University Union in attempting to address the difficulties students face. 

“This has already included the provision of additional wellbeing and financial support and a contribution of up to £2 million to the student hardship fund. Qualifying students in University-allocated accommodation can apply for a refund of their accommodation fees for the period from the start of term on 11 January until 19 February.” 

Community Officer Lottie Morton and Welfare Officer Sophia Hartley also attended the meeting on behalf of Leeds University Union.

In a joint statement, they said: “We were glad to have organised today’s meeting between Cut The Rent and university leaders and we were pleased that the university gave students a chance to voice their concerns directly, which we know is not happening at all universities around the country.

“We were grateful to be able to discuss contract release and why a more flexible and empathetic approach is so necessary, as this is something we have been raising as a priority with the university since we started our roles in the summer. We will continue to work with the university to allow students the freedom to exit their contracts.

“We will also be working further on some of the more sensitive issues directly affecting students which were raised by CutTheRent, such as student welfare support, which we feel will benefit from LUU’s involvement.”

Updated: Leeds University statement added.

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