University of Manchester students living in halls of residence strike again

Financially burdened students from the University of Manchester are calling a rent strike this month as the cost-of-living crisis continues.

UoMRentStrike is back to demand more affordable living while studying at university.

Students are campaigning for a 30% rent reduction on future payments for students living in halls of residence, followed by a 30% refund on the October payment.

UoARentStrike also asks that within the next three years, the university commits to a ‘no rent increase’ policy while making 40% of halls of residents affordable according to the NUS definition.

The organisation is striking for a second time with the hope of accelerating its success after winning £12 million back in 2020/21 from the university authorities.

More than 120 students have signed up since January 1, with an average of 25 signing up for the movement each day.

By maintaining the strike for the month of January, it is estimated each student partaking in the movement will be withholding an average of £1,500 from the university authorities. Students are threatening to withhold their second and third rent payments, due on January 19.

Since the start of the month, UoM has collectively withdrawn over 100,000 of rent by cancelling direct debits. 

MENTAL HEALTH concerns as students admit the impact the cost-of-living crisis has on academic success who are paying 60% more than students did a decade ago.

Manchester student activist and UoMRentStrike organiser Fraser McGuire, 19, said: “The cost of living crisis has been a massive factor in the organising of rent strike and in motivating students to get involved.

“I think with the mental health crisis and the cost-of-living crisis, students and young people feel very alienated.”

Despite living in the most affordable room available, Fraser spends almost 70% of his maintenance loan on rent.

The University of Manchester’s surplus has almost doubled from £64 million in 2020 to £119 million now, with its total income now £1.2 billion.

Fraser adds: “We’ve done lots of research into the situation and have seen that nationally 1 in 10 students use a foodbank, over 75% think inflation will impact their academic success, and nearly half say their mental health has worsened since Autumn.”

Social media polls by UoMRentStrike have further revealed students to be particularly vocal about the poor living conditions they have experienced, with frequent comments about infestation, broken facilities, no hot water, and mould growth.

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said: “We have worked closely with our Students’ Union and implemented a whole range of measures to reduce the financial impact on our students. Rents at our University accommodation are lower than similar private sector accommodation.”

They continue: “Working with the Students’ Union, the University is providing more jobs for students on campus, easier and increased access to short-term emergency financial assistance, and funding a new Money Advisor post to be created in the Students’ Union.”

The university said any student who is struggling with their rent or any other financial hardship can apply to their expanded cost of living support fund for a grant of up to £2,000 as part of a £9m package which includes a payment of up to £170 to all full-time students.

Image by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash.

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