Manchester students win 30% rent reduction

The Owens Park Tower occupation comes to an end. Lucy Adams reports

Lucy Adams
27th November 2020

Students at the University of Manchester (UoM) have been granted a 30% reduction to their accommodation fees for Semester One. This is equivalent to between £600 and £900, more than four weeks’ rent.

The University will concede around £12million to students in total. A two-week rent rebate was offered initially in response to the government instruction that students should return home before 9 December but this was challenged by both students and the wider public.

In a statement, the University said that this decision  “follows detailed discussions between the University, Students’ Union officers and elected student representatives from halls of residence”. The representatives had not been elected at the time of negotiations; instead, all candidates were included in discussions.

The concession is an increase on the two weeks’ rent rebate previously offered and accompanies an accommodation pledge that the University will work with the Student Union to improve students’ living conditions.

This puts an end to the two-week student occupation of Owens Park Tower in which nine occupiers, compiled of students allying with the 9k4what and Rent Strike movements, broke into the empty building and refused to leave under squatters’ rights. They demanded a rent refund of 40% and deemed the university’s treatment of students unfair.

In a claim to “victory” on Instagram, the rent strikers and protesters called the reduction “the biggest win for student rent strikes in the UK”. They warned “The fight is far from over,” adding that they would continue to campaign for an increased hardship bursary as well as for the University to negotiate rent reductions with private landlords.

9K4What is a national movement and has a branch in Newcastle, who revealed to The Courier:

 “We have gauged a fair amount of interest [in rent strikes] from first years - many feel misled and lied to about the quality of online learning, and aren’t getting services like cleaning that are included in their rent.

The excessive policing of university students is not a problem unique to Manchester.”

There will be a discussion of further action in an open meeting on Sunday.

Featured Image: Izzy Smitherman, The Independent

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