Students at Bristol University are set to go on rent strike after accusing campus bosses of not living up to their promises.
They say there is no need for them to be in local accommodation because many lessons are online – and are demanding a 30% rent cut for those who decide to stay and refunds for time spent under lockdown in their flats.
Organisers are urging ‘everyone in halls’ to join the strike and not pay their rent from Saturday, October 24.
They have a list of six demands including: ‘No repercussions for rent strikers; no-penalty contract releases available for all those in halls and a 30% rent cut for the whole year for those who decide to stay in halls.’
It is not clear how many students have so far signed up to take part in the action, with an online call for participants ongoing.
In a statement, organisers wrote: ‘Students were sold coming to Uni being promised blended learning, so many of us signed contracts with halls and moved to Uni.
‘Now, we are finding that most of our learning has moved online and we are essentially paying thousands of pounds in rent for a room we wished we’d never signed for.’
It comes as coronavirus cases at the University were yesterday said to be nearing 650, according to Bristol Live.
The statement continued: ‘Many of us are being locked in our flats without decent and timely access to food, which the Uni knew would happen.
‘This is affecting all of us and we think that the Uni should refund our rent for the weeks we are in halls lockdown.
‘We cannot access the blended learning we were promised, nor all the halls facilities we are paying thousands for.’
In response, a Bristol University spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘The health and safety of our students is a top priority, and our Residential Life teams are available 24/7 to offer help and advice.
‘Regular support and contact with students will ensure everyone is kept up-to-date and can ask any questions.
‘We welcome further discussions with representatives from Cut the Rent and Bristol Students’ Union, but this is an issue that is affecting all universities at the moment and our actions are guided by Public Health England and the authorities.’
The University says it is providing cleaning supplies, laundry services and free food boxes with fresh goods which ‘we understand some other universities are charging students for’.
But the spokesperson said security and support staff within residences are ‘essential to remind students of the need to behave in a responsible and lawful manner’.
The strikers’ other demands are: ‘outside time’ – involving allowing students in flats with no positive cases to run for an hour each day; having food boxes that cater ‘for all dietary requirements’ delivered; and regular check-ins from welfare officials.
Thanking students for following government advice and ‘fully acknowledging’ self isolating is ‘stressful and challenging’, the University spokesperson continued: ‘Self-isolating students have full access to wellbeing and mental health support services, and our blended learning provision has been created to ensure they can still continue with their studies online.
‘Students who aren’t having to self-isolate are still able to attend face-to-face learning and move around freely within Government guidelines.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted local MP Thangam Debbonaire for comment.