Thousands of university students offered 50% rent reduction

The United Kingdom’s largest student accommodation provider has offered its tenants a 50% discount if coronavirus restrictions have stopped them returning for their studies, as a growing number of universities have announced a suspension of all rent payments for rooms they own, write Bethan Staton, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe and George Hammond for the Financial Times.

Unite Students, which operates 177 properties in the UK, said it expected about 50,000 students, or two-thirds of its tenants, who are unable to return between 18 January and 14 February, to claim the partial refund for the period. The company said it was “the right thing to do” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week ordered a third lockdown in England, pushed back most on-campus teaching until February, leaving the majority of students who had travelled home for Christmas unable to return to university.

In recent days, some universities, including Cambridge, London School of Economics, Warwick and Sheffield, have announced they would not require students living in accommodation they own to pay any rent while they are not in halls of residence. Other institutions have offered partial rebates for the period students need to stay away. Student campaigners said the piecemeal approach exposed the lack of support for the hundreds of thousands of students and fell far short of compensation for a diminished study experience that costs thousands of pounds a year.
Full report on the Financial Times site