Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Coronavirus: Calls for student accommodation fees to be waived

Student Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Student groups are calling for university accommodation providers to waive fees

The National Union of Students (NUS) is calling on university accommodation providers to waive rent payments.

Students have organised strikes as some private hall providers refuse to cancel fees despite many students going home due to coronavirus restrictions.

Eva Crossan, NUS vice president for welfare, said she wanted accommodation providers to cancel rent charges.

The Department for Education said universities and private hall providers should "consider fairness" over rent.

Ms Crossan said: "We want to see student accommodation providers release students from their contracts at no penalty, when students' welfare or education is being significantly impacted as a result of coronavirus."

Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption MP Stephen Morgan said private accommodation providers must "act in the interest of our community"

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan praised the University of Portsmouth for releasing its students from their contracts and called on private firms to do the same.

"I will continue to lobby all major student accommodation providers, that have failed to offer this release so far, to take steps to support students and act in the interest of our community."

Beth Evans, a second-year student at Queen Mary University of London, said she would find it difficult to pay £2,500 to Sanctuary Students after returning home and losing her part-time job.

The 19-year-old, who has set up an online petition, said: "Many students rely on part-time jobs and their student loans do not cover their rent, my parents can't support me financially and having to deal with this is making the transition to moving back home and continuing to study online even more stressful."

Image copyright Beth Evans
Image caption Beth Evans said she would find it hard to pay £2,500 in accommodation fees

However, Sanctuary Students said it continued to house a "significant number" of domestic and international students.

A spokesman for the firm, which provides accommodation across the country, said: "While we realise our decision not to terminate contracts early will be disappointing, we have been informed by the universities' minister that students will still be receiving their tuition fee and maintenance payments for term three as scheduled, whether or not campuses are closed, or learning has moved online.

"The government has also outlined information encouraging tenants living in rented accommodation to pay their rent as normal, while accessing the new financial support packages it is offering if needed."

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