The SU has written to the University to demand early contract releases in support of students who live in off-campus properties managed by Warwick Accommodation and who are currently taking part in a Rent Strike.
You can read the text of the letter below. We await the university’s response and will update students when we know more.
The SU Advice Centre is available to support students on an individual basis, whether they rent with Warwick Accommodation or in private rented accommodation, and you can also find our FAQs here.
As you will be aware, we at the Students’ Union have had several discussions with members of the University during recent months regarding the extreme hardship and difficulties students are facing in relation to their accommodation and finances as a result of covid-19 and the cancellation of in-person teaching for term 3.
Students have been asking Warwick Accommodation and the University for support in a variety of ways, including release from their off-campus contracts, and while we recognise that the University is facing financial challenges, it is disappointing that they have not considered these requests to be a priority. Because of this, the hardship of our students continues, and they are now asking more strongly for the Students’ Union to support them.
A motion was passed via All Student Vote on Friday 19th June, and the Students’ Union is now pleased to stand in solidarity with off-campus students who are withholding rent payments. We would also like to reiterate our feeling that it is essential for the University to do more to provide support for these students.
Earlier this year, in line with Government guidance, Warwick University advised students not to return to campus. They quite rightly granted contract releases to students living on campus for term 3, demonstrating a recognition on your part that the termination of contracts is necessary given the hardship students are facing. Unfortunately, this same support was not extended to students living off campus, and the Students’ Union is urging the University to rectify this imbalance.
At the same time as coronavirus is creating unprecedented hardship for Warwick students and their families throughout the UK and the world, many of them are being asked to pay for off-campus accommodation that they are unable to access because of global travel restrictions and social distancing regulations. We also know that the part-time jobs that many of our working-class students rely on have been subject to lower pay through redundancy, furlough or reduced hours, so Warwick students are struggling to make ends meet. Despite the common belief that students can use their loan money to continue paying for accommodation, rents are frequently more expensive than maintenance loans provide.
With accommodation contracts being cancelled for on-campus students, there is now a significant disparity between their treatment and that of students living off-campus. With all the factors outlined above that are contributing to financial challenges for many of our students, this cannot be allowed to continue. We are requesting that, as a matter of urgency:
- off-campus accommodation contracts and rent should be cancelled for any students who want it;
- the University should contact all landlords that own the accommodation that Warwick Accommodation sublets to secure contract releases and rent cancellations for students, and
- as the result of this is unexpected cost for Warwick Accommodation, the University should provide them with the funding it needs to achieve these steps.
Students choose to rent through Warwick Accommodation, as opposed to through private providers, to receive better support and a Property Manager who understands their needs. As an institution whose primary interest should always be students, the University should provide Warwick Accommodation with the funding required to fulfil the requirements above and achieve a release from rental contracts for the students that need it.
Ben Newsham & Tiana Holgate
On behalf of the Sabbatical Officer Team and the Students’ Union