Bristol University makes U-turn on threat to take unpaid rent from bursaries

Bristol University faces backlash. Alex Walker reports

Alex Walker
1st December 2020
taken from Wikimedia Commons
Bristol University have retreated on their decision to deduct unpaid rent from the bursaries given to first year students, only 24-hours after the verdict was emailed to students. The original decision received a great deal of criticism from both staff and students, as well as the SU.

A University spokesperson said: “In light of the current circumstances and following discussion with Bristol Students’ Union, we have decided we will not offset any bursary payments made in December against student debt.

"We apologise for the uncertainty this has caused and can confirm instalments will be paid in full to all bursary recipients”.

The decision had been criticised as “shameful” by rent strikers. James Fishwick, Chair of the Widening Participation Network, labelled it “disgusting”, and said “the fact they set out on their original course in the first place is something I cannot comprehend.”

The original decision was made after a group of over 1200 Students had joined a rent strike, withholding more than £1 million in rent from the University.

Three days earlier, they had offered students an extra 10 days in order to pay due rent, and despite apologising for the “uncertainty” caused, have not offered any apology for the decision itself or the anxieties it may have caused for students who depend upon bursaries.

This is just one example of the unrest which is spreading around many University campuses at the moment, as Coronavirus exacerbates both pre-exiting tensions, and puts strain upon systems not equipped to deal with the pandemic.

Battle lines have been drawn up between students and the institutions to which they belong. Recently, these issues have come to a head in Manchester, where students have occupied buildings and torn down fences.

While Bristol may have made a U-turn on this choice, it is unlikely to resolve a very strained situation, or to fix the damage made by the original verdict. It is also unlikely to be the last conflict we will see between students and Universities this year.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

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AUTHOR: Alex Walker
An English Literature student, who enjoys playing devils advocate. Interested in sharing my vacuous opinion on Film, TV, Music, Sports, and Political history. Find me on Facebook if you want write a piece together, or just want to tell me my articles are rubbish somewhere Zuckerberg can hear. Twitter, @TheAlexJLWalker

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