Manchester Uni accuses student rent strikers of guesswork and reporting false numbers

Manchester Rent Strike told the uni to get on with supporting students rather than attacking them

The University of Manchester has accused students taking part in this month’s rent strike of reporting false and inflated figures about the true number of students who have not paid their rent and the amount being withheld.

In a stinging attack, the university has implied Manchester Rent Strike has had no financial impact, saying payments made last Thursday, when this term’s rent was due, were “consistent with those both in this and previous years”.

“Participation figures of the rent campaign quoted by students are not correct as they are based on people filling in an open form online and guesses about costs that incur to the university,” a spokesperson for the university added.

However, the University of Manchester has not revealed any counter-figures to back up its own claim.

On Friday, rent strike organisers told The Manchester Tab approximately 350 students had taken part in the strike and collectively they had withheld £500,000 from the university.

Today, the group reiterated these figures, saying it had “confidence at least 350 students” are currently withholding rent and maintaining this is worth an estimated half a million pounds in rent.

Manchester Rent Strike has also slammed the university for attempting to “discredit and downplay the impact of the strike” and said the group would not be “deterred” by this.

“We call on the university to spend its time focusing on fighting the cost-of-living crisis, supporting its students by lowering the rent in halls, rather than trying to attack their own students,” Manchester Rent Strike said.

At the same time as the university argued the levels of payment last week were the same as in previous years, the university’s Credit Control Team emailed rent strikers yesterday “reminding” them to pay their outstanding rent.

In the email sent to students, they were warned: “Non payment of debt can lead to serious consequences”, and sent a link to the university’s debt recovery policy.

An email sent to rent striking students on Monday

The university’s debt recovery policy includes referring students to an external debt collection agency “when other efforts have been exhausted or, if appropriate, before then”.

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said: “Whilst there are always reasons why rent payments are not received when they are due, the rate of payment in the most recent collection was consistent with those both in this and previous years. We are here to help and have contacted students about payment options and support.

“Participation figures of the rent campaign quoted by students are not correct as they are based on people filling in an open form online and guesses about costs this incurs to the University. Our Living Cost Support Fund means that students can obtain grants of up to £2,000 if they are in financial difficulty.

“We also share concerns with students that the recent increase in maintenance loans falls far short of keeping pace with inflation. The situation has of course been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis and we are advocating strongly on behalf of our students to see this position change.

“We have provided special Cost of Living payments to students recently in recognition of the pressures many are facing in the current global economic environment. Full time students received £170 and part time students received £85; this totals a £9m support package.”

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