University of Manchester spent £38,000 on private bailiffs to ‘violently’ evict rent strikers
‘This is the amount the university deemed appropriate to scare, frighten and silence their own students’
The University of Manchester paid private bailiffs more than £38,000 to remove 20 student occupiers from the Simon building occupation, The Manchester Tab can reveal.
The university paid the High Court Enforcement Team £38,449.01 to carry out the eviction on the morning of the 22nd March.
That means the university spent just shy of £2,000 per student to remove them from the Simon building.
The National Union of Students condemned the “violent” eviction, adding it was “disgusted” by the actions of the university. The university however fought back its decision was a “last resort”.
The university said at the time “it very much regretted having to do this” and it came after “multiple requests to those occupying the building to leave”.
The university had been granted a possession order on Monday 20th March after taking on its own students in Manchester High Court .
Since January, Manchester Rent Strike has been campaigning for a 30 per cent reduction in rent as well as a 30 per cent refund on rent paid in October. The group also wants the university to commit to freezing rent prices for three years.
On average, halls of residence have gone up by almost 40 per cent above inflation since 2004 – the year that most current first years were born. However, numerous students have come forward to describe their accommodation filled with mould, mice, rats and silverfish.
Manchester Rent Strike says 350 students withheld their rent payment due at the end of January. However, frustrated by a lack of acknowledgement or engagement from the university, a smaller group of students began occupying buildings in protest against the university.
While students inside the John Owens building left the senior management building after a week long occupation on the 16th February, students inside the Simon building held out for 42 days before the university resorted to hiring bailiffs to carry them out by their arms and legs.
Chloe Field, the NUS vice-president, criticised the university for not meeting the occupiers and addressing their “entirely reasonable concerns” and instead “wasting students’ money on private bailiffs”.
Today, Freedom of Information requests sent by The Manchester Tab reveal the university “wasted” close to £40,000.
This evening, a spokesperson for University of Manchester reiterated the university’s regret.
“We very much regret having to do this and would have much preferred not to spend money on the resulting necessary security costs,” they said.
“However, the situation had been going on for a significant amount of time and caused disruption to students and the people who work in the building.
“During these occupations, alongside the entry to private spaces we have been very concerned to see evidence of health and safety being severely compromised – both for the occupiers and our wider students and colleagues.
“Very sadly, several of our Campus Support and Security colleagues were injured when on two separate occasions a group of students rushed the door to force entry. This behaviour is simply not acceptable.”
Manchester Rent Strike has denied this allegation. The group said it was “shocked and appalled” to learn how much the university had spent hiring private bailiffs.
“This is the amount of money the university deem appropriate to scare, frighten, and silence their own paying students who are seriously impacted by the cost of living crisis,” a spokesperson for the group said.
They added: “£38,000 is a four year course for a UK student. £38,000 is approximately eight year’s rent in Oak House. It’s truly shocking behaviour.”
“The university is more interested in spending tens of thousands on suppressing peaceful protest than it is helping its own students who are struggling during a cost of living crisis. Despite, making a surplus of £13 million on accommodation last year, the university continues to disregard the rent strike and continues to raise rents for next year.”
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Featured image via Manchester Rent Strike