Cambridge Uni Students Withhold £143k Accommodation Rent As Part Of Protest Against Increased Charges

Cambridge Uni Students Withhold £143k Accommodation Rent As Part Of Protest Against Increased Charges

By Gavin Mackintosh-

Students at King’s College  in Cambridge University have been threatened  with dismissals and withdrawal of their graduation certification if they  continue to withhold rent for Easter as part of a protest against surges in rent charges.

The total rent withheld so far amounts to £143,000.

Capeesh Restaurant

AD: Capeesh Restaurant

It follows the large gathering of students last week in Bodley’s Court in King’s College to demonstrate support for the strike, sparked by the proposed increase of 7.5% in rent for the 2023-24 academic year.

The university has been accused of being unresponsive to the complaints of students.

The strike organisers have lamented the refusal of the university to integrate rent increases with increases in student finance and the Cambridge bursary.

Oysterian Sea Food Restaurant And Bar

AD: Oysterian Sea Food Restaurant And Bar

Disgruntled students  complained that student finance was set to increase by only 2.8 per cent, without an increase at all for the Cambridge Bursary.

Organisers for rent strike planned since April, called  for students pledges to withhold their Easter Term college bill until their demands are met.

Discussions between the college and the striking students are currently ongoing, and the students intend to pay the withheld money to the college once a settlement is reached.

King’s College Student Union’s (KCSU) Access Officer Mya Saxby said that negotiations may continue into the summer, since King’s has indicated that they may refuse to decrease the proposed rent rates. “This will put students who are already concerned about their finances, particularly estranged and low-income students, in a vulnerable position over the summer,” said Saxby.

Jack Robinson, the KCSU welfare officer, said: “The 7.5% rent increase put forward is simply not affordable for many students who already struggle to live in a city as expensive as Cambridge. We are on rent strike to protect student’s standard of living, and to fight to keep King’s accessible to students from working class backgrounds, now and in the future.”

Their demands are that the college commits to both no rent increase for the 2023/24 academic year.

It also calls for future rent increases to the year-on-year increase of Student Finance maximum maintenance loans and full bursary combined, e.g. 2.06 per cent for the academic year 2023/24 or a 5 per cent cap, whichever is lowest.

No disciplinary action for rent strikers, including restrictions on accommodation and those graduating this year.

KCSU representatives have been negotiating with the college on issues such as vast rent increases, the unsuitability of college accommodation, alleged flaws in student’s tenancy contracts, and a lack of financial support offered to the student body during the cost of living crisis.

One  striking student anonymously  told The Eye Of Media.Com: ” all formal levels of discussion have failed to yield results, on the contrary the university conceded the extent to which these increases is causing hardship by urging affected student’s to use the hardship funds. This is ridiculous, and the university needs to behave responsibly ny removing these extortionate rent charges”

Easter bills this year were due to be paid during the week beginning Monday 8th May. The College has sent out emails reminding students of their outstanding bills and has waived late payment charges. They have also stated that students “will not be disadvantaged” when applying for financial support from the College.

When contacted for comment, a representative for King’s College told Varsity: “Accommodation charges for the 2023-24 academic year have been set in consultation with student representatives and are consonant with charges at similar UK institutions. In addition, our students are supported by a range of generous bursaries designed to ensure their financial security over the course of their studies.”

Rent increases for 2023-24 announced so far at other colleges range from 5.6% to 11%. Students at King’s College have previously organised successful strikes in 1995 and 2003.

readership with digital content and of course in print too!

When students choose to live in university-owned halls of residence, they typically enter into a contractual agreement. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions, including the rent charges. If the university raises the rent beyond what was initially agreed upon, it may be considered a breach of contract. In such cases, students may argue that they have the right to withhold rent until the matter is resolved.

Duty of Good Faith and Duty of Care

Education researcher, Joshua Hopwood said: ”Educational institutions, including universities, owe a duty of good faith and a duty of care to their students. This means that universities have an obligation to act in the best interests of their students, ensuring their well-being and educational experience.

”If students can demonstrate that the increased rent charges adversely affect their ability to pursue their education or cause financial hardship, they may argue that the university is failing in its duty of care

‘Another  ethical consideration  worthy of  evaluation is the affordability and accessibility of education, Hopwood said.

”Higher education should be accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic background. If increased rent charges make accommodation unaffordable for some students, it undermines the principle of equal access to education. Students withholding rent may argue that they are standing up for the rights of future generations who may be deterred from pursuing higher education due to financial barriers.

Universities have an ethical responsibility to act with transparency and fairness when determining rent charges. Students may question the rationale behind significant increases and demand clarity on how the additional revenue will be utilized. If universities fail to provide satisfactory explanations, students withholding rent may argue that they are acting in the best interests of accountability and fairness.

Cambridge University was contacted for comment

Heritage And Restaurant Lounge Bar

AD: Heritage And Restaurant Lounge Bar


Spread the news