A lot of you will have seen that we have been campaigning on the proposed rent increases announced by the University for next academic year. We are writing to let you know what has happened so far and where we see the campaign going next.
We launched the campaign on the April 26 after having reached a dead end in discussions with the key University staff who set the rent prices year-on-year.
Our first action was to start a petition. This went live on the April 27 and immediately began to draw attention to the issue.
Within 48 hours of the petition being opened it had 1200 members of the University sign it.
Due to the interest in the petition we were able to secure a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, Professor Hugh Brady, within a week. This took place on the May 5, and was attended by the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Registrar, the Director of Residential & Hospitality Services, the head of UK Student Recruitment (who leads the Widening Participation team), and two ( Students’ Union officers).
It was a semi-productive meeting, resulting in Professor Brady publically addressing the concerns that we had raised surrounding the potential implications of this decision on the diversity of the student body. He asked University staff to investigate the cost of introducing a more comprehensive accommodation bursary, and initiating a review of how these types of decisions are made in the future. However, it was clear that the University have no plans to back down on the increase in rent for next academic year.
The Vice-chancellor communicated this in an open letter addressed to us via Epigram on 12 May.
We have written an open letter back to him, letting him know that we remain strongly opposed to rent increases. We also demand further clarification on how the University will justify placing diversity and inclusivity at the core of their vision and strategy, whilst simultaneously failing to provide fair accommodation costs for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
We are now waiting for a further response. We wanted to report back to you that we are not happy with the University’s current position, and are specifically outraged that there are plans to increase the rents year-on-year over the next three years, whilst rents have increased on average over the last three years by just under 20%. We will be ensuring that we hand this over as a priority to next year’s officer team.
Equality, Liberation and Access officer
Undergraduate Education officer