Thousands of students are preparing the biggest rent strike for decades. Marxist societies around the country are part of this fight.
Unite Students, the largest student accommodation provider in the country, has offered students a 50% rent reduction. Some universities have offered some reductions too. They can feel the pressure beginning to build, and in most places we haven’t even begun the strike yet. Now is the time to go on the offensive. We don’t need to settle for the crumbs they’re willing to throw us now when we can organise and fight for much more.
If you support this statement and the demands please sign below.
Last term we were enticed back to university campuses only to be locked down in mostly substandard accommodation, sometimes enforced with security patrols and metal fences. Social activities and mental health support have been poor to non-existent.
This was entirely foreseeable but the government and university management encouraged students to move into these terrible conditions purely to guarantee rent money for universities and landlords. This money was taken from us using deception.
Our education should be in the form of face-to-face lectures, labs, and seminars. And informally through the ‘university experience’ of making friends, joining societies, and living independently for the first time.
Through no fault of their own, staff have been rushed into putting together online lessons which are not equivalent to face-to-face teaching. Student unions have been forced to shut down almost all activities. The government’s atrocious handling of the pandemic means that this state of affairs is likely to last for almost the entire academic year.
University management has decided to continue unfairly extracting tuition fees and rent from us because they say they need to balance their books. We would like to see the proof. We demand to see the full accounts for all universities, which clearly show how much money is spent on accommodation, maintenance, and teaching, compared to how much is spent on Vice-Chancellor & management salaries and other lavish prestige projects.
What is clear is that successive governments have marketised education by cutting state funding to universities. Education is being treated as a commodity and a privilege, instead of a public good and a right. Students are being forced to pay extortionate rent and tuition, even in the context of pandemic, because of this marketisation. We demand that our student unions and the NUS join a campaign to demand free and fully funded education, with maintenance grants for all students.
We are not simply fighting for a one-off refund. Never again should students be subjected to the conditions we have faced this year. Universities must give students control over how the institution’s accommodation and finances are run. Along with staff and through democratic channels, students should be directly involved in the decision-making of their university’s administration. Students and staff are the core of a university and are best placed to decide how to run it.
We call for a national committee of rent strikers, democratically elected to represent all students around the country taking this action, to adopt the following demands and campaign for them at a national level:
- A full refund of all rent paid by students so far this academic year and release from further payments
- A full refund of tuition fees for this academic year
- Universities to publish detailed breakdowns of income and expenditure, especially relating to accommodation and maintenance, to be circulated to all students
- Student unions and the NUS to actively campaign for free education, with maintenance grants for all students
- Students and staff to be given control over financial decision-making in the university
- Link up with trade unions to ensure no covid job losses