By Emilie Robinson, Digital News Editor
An extension to the rent rebate in early December was announced in an email today to all students in University accommodation. Rent Strike Bristol remain critical of the University's position.
The email to students stated that hall residents will get, ‘the 100% rent rebate previously confirmed for the 10 days leading to the end of term (up to and including Friday 18 December).
‘Plus, a further 30% rent rebate from 19 December until the end of the Government proposed staggered return period in early February; a total of 7 weeks.’
Students have been given a further rent rebate, totalling 25 days of rent. This is not enough. @BristolUni is not keen to part with their money, this rebate shows they're feeling the pressure of the strike. We're gonna keep striking until we get our full 30% ✊ 1/2— Rent Strike Bristol (@RentStrikeBris) December 3, 2020
This will apply to students that also decide to remain in University accommodation over the Christmas break.
Students were also told in the email how they would receive the extended rent rebate.
‘For students who have already made their first payments and set up a payment plan for the year, the total rebate will be applied as a refund to your bank account during February. This enables you to receive your rebate without complicated changes to your payment plan. Please pay your next rent instalment as planned by 8 January 2021.
‘If you have not made your Term 1 and Term 2 payments by 1 February 2021, or set up your payment plan, your total rebate will be deducted from the rent you owe when you make your payment.’
Additional support to residents has been offered including the extension of an additional bursary and the inclusion of a link to the University hardship find that is available to all.
We want to make it clear that we reject this gross attempt to capitalise off of the hard work student activists are doing. The Brexit Party won't act in the best interests of staff or students, particularly international students, so we reject any semblance of their support. 1/3 https://t.co/WdUdKoeJRO— Rent Strike Bristol (@RentStrikeBris) November 28, 2020
Rent Strike Bristol have responded to the University's latest announcement, challenging the rebate offered by the University on the grounds that it ‘only covers the time students aren't in Bristol.’
Rent Strike Bristol expressed their view that the rebate does not go far enough and state that they will ‘keep striking in January.’
Robert Kerse, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Bristol said: ‘We believe we have gone above and beyond to provide support to students during this stressful and challenging period.
‘We have already committed to a 10 day rent rebate this month for students living in University accommodation in response to the government’s directive for teaching to be moved online between 3 and 9 December.’
Confirming the University's latest move in the chain of events, Kerse continued: ‘We are now offering a 30% rent rebate from 19 December for seven weeks to reflect the latest government advice for a staggered return in the New Year.
‘There will also be a new policy to reflect the fact that is better for some student’s physical and mental health not to reside in University accommodation. Students who are affected in this way will be released from their tenancy penalty free.
‘And to make life easier over the holiday period, we will be extending an additional bursary to care leavers, those estranged from their families, and students already in receipt of an accommodation bursary.
‘We have always been clear about our plan to offer a blend of online and in-person teaching. This blended learning provision has been created to keep students safe, and to ensure they can still continue with their studies online if they are self-isolating or choose not to come to Bristol.
‘We do not make a profit from student rent and all accommodation fees are used for operating, maintaining, and improving the residences. This includes 24/7 pastoral and wellbeing support.
‘The overall package of support for students in halls up to the start of next term alone will total over £6.5million, including rent rebates, the provision of free food boxes to self-isolating students, cleaning supplies and laundry services.
‘Our entire community has worked tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to provide our students with a high-quality blended learning experience and additional student support. We have consistently done right by our students, acting reasonably and providing rental rebates when education has been moved wholly online as part of the government’s efforts to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
‘This continues to be our policy and we will continue to keep lines of communication open with the rent strikers and the Students’ Union.’
Featured Image: Epigram / Georgiana Scott
Are you living in University of Bristol halls? If so, what do you make of the rent rebate?