Students call university’s two-week rent deduction a ‘slap in the face’

Tower Occupiers

A union has called the proposed two-week rent reduction for University of Manchester (UoM) students a “slap in the face”.

Students representing UoM Rent Strike, Students Before Profit and 9K4WHAT have been holed up in the otherwise empty Tower in Owens Park since last week – demanding that the university cuts rent prices.

The building WiFi was shut off during the early part of the protests, with UoM insisting the students “shouldn’t be there.”

But following negotiations Sunday, the university said that all students would receive a discount of two weeks’ rent.

The University and College Union (UCU) said the offer isn’t good enough.

General Secretary Jo Grady said: “After student protesters asked for a rent reduction of at least 40%, a reduction of two weeks must feel like a slap in the face. We completely support students’ protests against how they’ve been treated.”

She added: “UCU is very worried the university’s actions this term will lead to students speaking with their feet and choosing not to study at Manchester which could lead to job losses for our members.

“The university must now step back from the brink, limit any further damage to its reputation and meaningfully engage with the students protesting.”

Protesting students had been asking for UoM Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell to engage with them on a number of issues – including the installation of “prison-like” fencing overnight on Fallowfield campus.

Following widespread uproar, the fences were torn down by the students themselves on Bonfire Night.

UoM said they met with student representatives over the weekend and are working to “progress a number of areas.”

The university admitted they “haven’t got everything right” this term and published a “five-point pledge” to improve living standards for students – announcing rent reductions, flexible accommodation agreements, better maintenance support, tackling antisocial behaviour, and better study spaces.

However, students insist the offer doesn’t meet their demands.

UoM Rent Strike wrote on Twitter: “Students & staff have seen this pitiful pledge for what it is.

“Within 1 day hundreds have signed up to make January the biggest rent strike yet.”

Protests and negotiations continue.

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