Students at the University of Warwick are preparing to withhold their rent payments as they face uncertainty over their return after the Christmas break.
An Instagram account called Rent Strike Warwick has called on all students, living in on-campus and University-managed off-campus accommodation, to withhold their Term 2 rent payments.
Organisers have set out a list of six demands, including a 40% rent cut for the academic year 2020/2021.
They are also demanding “contract releases or refunds for any periods that students don’t make use of their accommodation”, for both the current and previous academic years; the continuation of Warwick Accommodation’s off-campus housing; and no repercussions for rent strikers from both last academic year and this academic year.
The strike comes after thousands of students across the country went on strike during Term 1. Students at the University of Manchester were given a 30% cut in rent for the first half of the academic year, following protests.
In a statement, the organisers said: “The Government and the University of Warwick lied to us about what this year would look like to get us to pay fees and sign accommodation contracts.
“We’ve lost work, faced Covid outbreaks, isolation, and been made to pay sky-high rents for accommodation we can’t use. We’ve received no real financial or mental health support and been charged extortionate fees and rents for the privilege.
“To top it off the University is planning to end Warwick managed off-campus accommodation from 2021/22 academic year, leaving students at the mercy of private landlords in years to come.
“Enough is enough – we refuse to pay for this broken student housing system. By taking collective action and joining thousands of students around the country on rent strike we can hit management where it hurts and win adequate and affordable student housing.”
Following a petition that was launched, calling on Warwick to partially reimburse accommodation fees, the University previously said that they will not be providing refunds as “accommodation and teaching will be available and running”.
This isn’t the first time Warwick students have withheld rent payments. During Term 3 of the 2019/2020 academic year, Warwick students living in University-managed off-campus accommodation went on strike to protest landlords demanding rent in wake of non-essential campus activities being cancelled.
The University did not give in to their demands and students were referred to apply for hardship funds.
The University has been contacted for comment.
(Update 06.01.2021 17:45): In a statement, the University said: “Following the announcement by the Prime Minister on the 4th of January of a new national lockdown and the restrictions on movement which have been imposed, we are reviewing our position on campus accommodation fees for this term. We expect to be able to give students the details on the outcome of that review in the coming days.”