University students: Are you entitled to a student accommodation rent cut?

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University students across the country are mostly undertaking their studies remotely as the third national coronavirus lockdown in England causing disruption. University pupils have been urged to “stay where they are” despite the new term beginning. Several students are now calling for compensation for university accommodation costs – but are you entitled to financial help?

University students across the UK will be subject to escalated restrictions for at least all of January as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

People in England are subject to new Covid lockdown restrictions until at least mid-February.

This means people must now “stay at home” and means students who were able to leave their university homes must remain at their permanent homes until lockdown ends.

Instead, students must for the main part, undertake their studies remotely.

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Some university students are able to undertake their studies as usual, including those on the following courses:

  • Medicine & dentistry
  • Subjects allied to medicine/health
  • Veterinary science
  • Education (initial teacher training)
  • Social work

Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and/or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and cannot be rescheduled.

These students will be required to undertake two Covid tests upon arrival and have to self-isolate for 10 days.

Any students not on any of the above courses must remain where they are wherever possible.

They should begin their studies online, as facilitated by their university until at least mid-February.

This includes students on other practical courses which are not included on the aforementioned list.

If you live at university, you should not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.

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Are you entitled to a student accommodation rent cut or refund?

There is no mandated Government position forcing student accommodation providers to issue refunds or reductions in rental rates.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week said the Government was looking into ways it could offer additional support to students.

He said: “I think we need to look very hard at the deal that students are getting.

“We need to see what more we can do, frankly, to support students and to help them in what has been a very, very difficult time.

“Of course, at the moment they are not able to go back to their universities, except in a very few key practical courses, and I know how frustrating that is and I know the financial frustrations that that entails.

“I can tell you that we are looking at that now and that you’ll be hearing more about that from the Education Secretary.”

However, the UK’s largest student accommodation provider has offered its tenants a 50 percent discount if Covid restrictions stopped them returning for their studies.

The move was made as a growing number of universities announced plans to waive rent payments for rooms they own.

Unite Students, which operates 177 properties in the UK, said it expected about 50,000 students, or two-thirds of its tenants, who are unable to return between January 18 and February 14 to claim the partial refund for the period.

The firm added the move was “the right thing to do” after the third lockdown came into force.

Several universities across the country have announced plans to help students.

Universities including Cambridge, the London School of Economics and Sheffield announced they would not require students living in accommodation they own to pay any rent while they are not in halls.

Other institutions have offered partial rebates for students required to remain away from campuses.

The majority of students who rent from private landlords on the open market or other speciality providers are still having to pay full rent.

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