Students in London are refusing to pay rent in protest against “soaring” accomodation prices, and are demanding a 40% cut in rental.
More than 150 students in two halls of residence at University College London (UCL), are withholding rent amounting to over £250,000. The UCL Cut the Rent campaign says they will not pay until the university meets their demand for their rent to be cut by two-fifths.
Angus O’Brien, an accommodation representative and an organiser of the campaign, says: “The cost of rent has gone up dramatically and it’s preventing people from studying at university. This is a massive problem across London and the country. We are showing that something can be done about rising rent prices; our action could be the start of something much wider.”
Students on rent strike at University College London. Photo by UCL Cut the Rent, lifted from The Guardian
Nyima Murry, 19, a first-year history of art student and one of the strikers, says: “I’ve struggled massively with the cost of rent. I’m not from a wealthy background, and last term I had to work two jobs, which really affected my studies. I can’t afford to eat if I don’t work. Studying is becoming about your background and how much you’re earning, rather than your ability.
“Many people I know are put off moving to London because they can’t afford to study here. I’m striking so that future students have the opportunity to study at UCL on their academic merit, not because of their financial background.”
When I was young, there were no uni fees and you got grants for stuff like rent and food. When I went to uni as a mature student, there were still no tuition fees and I got a combination of maintenance grant and student loan, and it pretty hard going, getting extra cash to keep myself going. Now, students go into higher education and will leave with massive debt for tuition fees. There are paltry loans for day-to-day costs, and for books/materials you need for studies. And you have to take on jobs for money even though you are a full-time student. Some full-time students are also full-time workers, just so they can live.
You’d think at least the unis would offer affordable rent, but no: students have to choose whether to pay rent or buy food. I back their rent strike. But I fear they’ll be evicted and homelessness will kill off their studies. Or maybe the uni will refuse to educate students who don’t pay their rent. Higher ed should not be a privilege just for the rich. But that’s what it has become, under labour and the libdems (in coalition) as well as the tories. Don’t they get it: today’s students are the country’s future. Or maybe they do get it, and only want rich kids to run the country. Like Cameron and his gang of public school scumbags.
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