The University of York has agreed to a partial rent refund for students living in university accommodation who are returning for the start of spring term.
Lobbying efforts from YUSU president Patrick O’Donnell and YUSU community & well-being officer Carly Precious have secured a “refund window” where students can receive a refund of up to three weeks’ rent.
This window will run from 11 January 2021 until 1 February.
According to YUSU, the University will confirm arrangements via email next week.
The University has also agreed to partner with YourGuarantor, a rent guarantor for students living in private accommodation.
YourGuarantor has already partnered with a number of universities across the country, including Birmingham and Reading.
According to YUSU, YourGuarantor will “ensure students without a UK guarantor are protected”.
Carly Precious, YUSU Community & Wellbeing Officer, said:
“I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to secure rent refunds for students living on-campus, whose return to York may be delayed due to government restrictions. No student should be left out of pocket for doing the right thing and for looking out for their friends, their families, and wider community.
Given the absence of any government commitment to refunding accommodation costs, the major question for the University now is whether or not they ensure students living off-campus are treated equally and take steps to ensure their living costs are met too.”
The University’s rent refund comes after the government announced that students across the country will be making a “staggered” return to campuses after Christmas.
Patrick O’Donnell, YUSU President, said:
“We will continue to lobby the University, the government, and landlords throughout York to ensure we can see genuine – and sustained – change for students. Our Ideas Forum will meet again in January to facilitate debates on students’ concerns surrounding rents and the cost of living, submitted through the YUSUggestions platform.”
York Student Solidarity Network were underwhelmed by the agreement, telling York Vision:
“Although YSSN are glad to hear that the University is finally taking notice of a clear need to reimburse students this year, the three week rent refund is simply not good enough. It will repeatedly be made clear to the University of York by YSSN and all in solidarity with us, that students deserve a fair reimbursement of rent for 2020/21 until we are responded to and negotiations are opened up with us.
“Acknowledging a 40% reimbursement of the rent taken for campus accommodation so far and for the forthcoming year is the real starting point of this discussion, not singularly acknowledging that to not reimburse students for accommodation they cannot live in as a result of the staggered phase back to university would be daylight robbery.”
“This is a menial placatory gesture from the University to dampen down feelings of anger and disgust by the students and staff. We will not stop fighting until we’ve been heard fully.”