Union suffers battel losses

June 16, 1995

Students at Pembroke College in Oxford have called off their rent strike and disaffiliated from the National Union of Students, in a bitter culmination of their attempts to fight an increase in student "battels" - bills for food and lodging.

Students are angry at the NUS's apparent refusal of financial help for the legal case against the college.

Governors of Pembroke College had threatened to take students who did not pay their battels to court, and the college junior common room asked for financial aid from the NUS to fight the case.

The legal advice given by the union to the students was that the court fees alone could be about Pounds 10,000 if they went to court.

The union sent a form to the JCR to allow it to apply for financial assistance but insists that no formal application was made.

Jim Murphy, president of the NUS, said: "It is unfortunate that a breakdown in understanding has occurred at such an important time. NUS has a clear commitment to providing legal advice, but Pembroke College have not formally asked for legal funding." Mr Murphy said that any application would be considered on the merits of the case.

Students voted to disaffiliate from the NUS at a JCR meeting on Sunday evening. About 60 students were present at the meeting.

President of Oxford University student union said: "There is no widespread movement among Oxford colleges to disaffiliate from the NUS. Colleges join and disaffiliate from the NUS frequently."

Students at St John's College have ended their strike on a more victorious note.

Their increase in rents will now be just 5.9 per cent.

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