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5th May 2023

The University of Manchester’s Rent Strike marches on

The University of Manchester rent strike rumbles on as tensions between UoM Rent Strike and university bosses continue to simmer
The University of Manchester’s Rent Strike marches on
Photo of a banner reading ‘UOM YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED’. Credit: UOM Rent Strike

On April 27, UoM Rent Strike announced that over 650 students withheld their rent, an increase of 300 more students since January, costing the University 2 million pounds.

In a statement to the Manchester Evening News, the University has disputed the participation figures, claiming that they are based on “people filling in an open form online” and that the group made guesses as to the cost of the withheld rent.

However, a freedom of information request made to the University by the group revealed that 385 students were issued with late payment charges of £25.

The group of students also note that participating students were told not to inform the University that they were striking, and the group also say that “making fun of a Google form is a laughable defence.”

The University of Manchester Students’ Union held a referendum on this topic in April, and an overwhelming 97% of those who voted backed the rent strike.

According to UoM Rent Strike, despite them receiving the backing of the Students’ Union, the university refuses to negotiate or engage with the group.

The Rent Strike claim that the University has begun what they describe as a “punitive campaign of intimidation”, with threats of detrimental effects to credit scores, and withheld exam results.

The University of Manchester has begun disciplinary proceedings against 11 of the students where, if found guilty, they could face expulsion.

The group say that these proceedings are “for the act of protesting upper management’s refusal to listen to students”, while the University alleges that these students injured and intimidated staff, after being involved in “illegal occupations.”

One student told The Mancunion, “I am already £1000 in my overdraft, and it has now got to the point where I have to skip meals just to get by.”

A University of Manchester spokesperson said:

“Participation figures quoted by this group have been consistently incorrect. They are based on people filling in an open form online and guesses about costs this incurs to the University. The number of students who have not paid the April rent instalment is lower than the corresponding point last year and remains in line with our expectations. We know that many students can struggle to pay for a variety of reasons and as part of our normal processes, we will try to contact students to discuss options to help them pay, and to listen sympathetically to their needs.

“A total of 65 students have declared to us that they are withholding rent as part of a campaign. We have over 8,000 students living in our residences. Our rents start at among the lowest prices in the Russell Group. We never pass on increases in energy or food prices in the year, and when we do increase prices we make sure the lowest increases are in the cheapest halls.

“Rents also include 24/7 support through the Reslife team and security. Reslife also offer a huge events programme throughout the year, and there is the opportunity for developing personal skills through representing your hall through student voice or events-based options. In addition we have put together a larger cost of living support package than any other university.

“We will continue to talk to elected student representatives to see what else we can do to provide support during this difficult period of high inflation.”

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