Happy new year to you all! We hope you are keeping safe and well, and taking good care of yourselves in these increasingly difficult times. We understand students are experiencing great difficulties at the moment and we empathise with the hardships you are all facing. As such, we wanted to release a short statement, as your Executive Officer team of your Students’ Union, regarding the growing concerns of students about university accommodation, private accommodation, and the issues of rent payments.
We want to thank all of the students who have contacted us to raise concerns, provide feedback, and share their experiences with us, and also thank students who are coming together as a student community to support each other and work together in collective action to achieve change. As your Students’ Union, we are committed to acting on your concerns and will use your feedback to inform our next steps, making sure supporting you is at the heart of everything that we do.
Rent Strike Campaign
As your Students’ Union we’re incredibly proud of the community spirit and the way students have come together to campaign for their collective rights. We entirely support QMUL Rent Strike’s request for reductions in student rents, particularly given the current circumstances and restrictions on students accessing their accommodation; as well as students’ rights to high quality living conditions. We are aware of the growing frustrations of large numbers of students, and want to assure you that we are lobbying, and will continue to lobby, the university for rent reductions and improvements to support and facilities for students in accommodation. As your Executive Officers, we have access to key spaces and stakeholders within the university and so we want to reassure you that we will continue to use our seat at the table to bring these concerns to the relevant people who can make change.We are already meeting with the University management team, and will continue to do so this week. We fully support the request of the QMUL Rent Strike campaign of a rent reduction of 30% and are lobbying the university to achieve this. We also support students’ requests for early tenancy release from university accommodation without penalty or financial liability, and are lobbying for this too.
To those currently striking we encourage you to make sure you are doing so safely and in an informed manner. The NUS has released guidance on campaigning and legal advice so please do make sure you are fully informed when taking part. You can access the guidance by clicking here.
What else are we working on?
We are also working on these issues externally through a number of different routes. We are in contact with local political figures about accommodation issues and support for renters in both university and private accommodation. We have also recently added the London Renters Union (LRU), a membership organisation that supports renters and campaigns for their rights, to our Housing Advice section of our website, and we also plan to work with them to produce content to highlight the support they can potentially offer to student renters.
Our Students’ Union President, Shamima, is working with other Students’ Union Presidents on a national level to address these issues for the wider student community collectively. Shamima recently contributed to and signed an open letter to the UK government with other Students’ Union Presidents regarding a number of student issues, of which accommodation and rent reductions were a key feature. We also remain in contact with NUS about these issues and will be coordinating with them for support.
For those living in Unite Students accommodation, please see the new update from Unite Students about their Covid-19 rent reductions.
For students living in other private accommodation struggling with rent, we want to remind you that the QMUL Financial Assistance Fund is still available for those facing financial hardship. For more information on eligibility criteria and the application process please click here. The QMUL Advice and Counselling Service can also provide valuable practical advice and guidance to students in financial difficulty - to find out more about how they can support you please click here.
Remember that we are here for you - we hope that all students feel comfortable and able to continue coming to us with your concerns, and we will endeavor as always to support you and raise them with the University to improve your student experience.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of the Exec Officers.
We will get in touch again later this week with a further update for you all.
Jack Juckes and Tiana Dinard-Samuel, on behalf of the Executive Officer Team