Deal struck to end UCL rent strike

University to freeze or reduce accommodation costs, and to channel significant funding into bursaries

June 24, 2016
Piggy bank saying 'pay rent'

A long-running rent strike at University College London is to end after the institution agreed to freeze or reduce students’ accommodation fees, and to make hundreds of thousands of pounds available in bursaries.

Hundreds of students have been refusing to pay their rent since January in protest at the cost of living in UCL residences, but an agreement has now been reached between the university and the UCL Cut the Rent campaign.

The university has agreed to make £350,000 available in accommodation bursaries next year, which will be allocated to students most in need of financial support. It has also confirmed that rents will be frozen for 2016-17, and in some cases reduced.

UCL has pledged to increase the value of the bursary scheme to £500,000 in the subsequent year.

This comes after the institution froze or reduced rents for about 30 per cent of its accommodation earlier this year.

Rex Knight, UCL’s vice-provost, welcomed the outcome of the “positive negotiations”.

“From the outset we have appreciated that affordability is a big issue for our students, and a challenge for a university based in the heart of central London,” Mr Knight said. “The new bursaries we have announced will make a significant difference to all students in greatest need, and will help ensure that UCL remains an institution open to all.”

Rents at UCL had increased significantly in recent years, with the cheapest room in its catered halls of residence costing £143 a week next year.

The institution has also faced complaints about the quality of its accommodation, and paid out a total of £420,000 compensation in two separate cases involving students who complained about noisy, vermin-infested buildings.

Angus O’Brien, halls accommodation representative on the UCL Union, welcomed the agreement.

“It is unlikely that concerns regarding access to education at UCL, as well as across London and beyond, will be entirely addressed in the short term,” he said. “Today’s announcement is a welcome step forward in ensuring higher education becomes more accessible to students from all backgrounds.”

The deal was struck after it emerged that UCL was reportedly considering expanding to 60,000 students, from the current total of about 35,000.

The university has also confirmed that it will waive late payment charges on all accommodation accounts that are settled by 24 June.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

They way UCL treated that student journalist was appalling. Threatening to expel them if they didn't hand over document they'd legitimately got hold of and were in the public interest. UCL is a bully.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride