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Covid lockdown: Plymouth university students in call for rent rebate

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image copyrightUniversity of Plymouth
image captionStudents on a select number of courses have been advised that they can return to the university

University students who have been told to stay away as the new term starts are demanding money back on their rents.

Plymouth University has told most students that mid-February is the earliest they can expect to return.

In the meantime some students are paying rent for their halls or rented rooms, which they say is unfair.

The Department for Education (DfE) urged universities and private providers "to be fair, clear and have the interests of students at heart".

The lockdown prompted Plymouth University to tell students except those studying medicine, education, social work and certain other courses to "remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online until at least mid-February".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

That led to a tweet from Plymouth history student Jacob Drew, 24, who is staying with his parents in Weymouth, Dorset.

The tweet has has more than 80,000 likes.

Campaigners threatening a rent strike have issued a number of demands including a 40% rent reduction for students in halls of residence, no evictions, no penalty for early contract release and no penalties for non rent payers.

image copyrightJacob Drew
image captionJacob Drew said while being encouraged to follow virus advice students stood to lose money for something they were not using

Mr Drew told the BBC: "I am paying for something I cannot use and it's not my fault.

"It's like buying a TV and the shop wanting it back every Saturday.

"We are in a situation where we are all being encouraged to beat the virus, but the help does not apply to students."

image copyrightUniversity of Plymouth
image captionThe university said its "key priority" was to "maintain the physical and mental health of our students, staff and wider community"

Biomedical science student Mia Ollis, 18, is on the list of students who can return, said trying to keep others away could backfire.

"I think if you are paying for something you cannot use you should be compensated in some way," she said.

"People would be more likely to stay where they were if they got a refund."

Mr Drew's landlady Elizabeth Hunter said landlords had a "moral responsibility to do what's fair" but it was a "very difficult situation".

"We receive no support from the government if the student doesn't pay their rent and we still have to pay the mortgage," she said.

The University of Plymouth said it was "in no way turning any students away from their university-managed accommodation" and "indeed we know many have already returned to the city".

The DfE said in a statement said it had been a "very difficult time for students" but their education and wellbeing had been "prioritised" with up to £20m to help those most in need of support and £256m for universities to those in financial hardship.

Related Topics

  • Plymouth
  • Coronavirus lockdown measures
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Weymouth
  • Renting

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