Over the last few weeks, the Students’ Union officers have been busy advocating for students’ interest across a whole range of subjects. We talked earlier in the term about our belief that our students have been disadvantaged substantially by the actions of Government and Universities from the summer onwards.
The University have made mistakes, they have been open and honest about this in recent communications, and we have been working as student officers to make sure clear actions are agreed to support all students in this difficult year. We have recently held joint town hall meetings with the University leadership, elected RA & JCR committees and SU officers. We identified major issues with the support in halls including maintenance, security, health and safety, the visibility of mental wellbeing provision, and high number of students gathering breaching coivd-19 guidelines. This led to the creation of an accommodation pledge detailing some rent reductions and commitments to improve conditions in University halls.
We have continued to advocate that the University needs to go further and take the accommodation pledge even beyond the original agreement. It needs to be recognised this term isn’t one any of us signed up for, and we are pleased to report we have been able to negotiate a 30% discount for all students in University owned accommodation for the period of the first semester.
Whilst we still have concerns about the overall approach to tuition fees (and are working with other Students’ Unions to call on government to refund these), this is a huge win, unprecedented in the sector, and will put millions of pounds back in students pockets during this horrible year. We are working out the details as to how the discount will be applied, but it will apply to every student living in a University hall of residence. We have worked really closely with all the newly elected hall committees to achieve this.
We have also been supporting and listening closely to many student campaigning groups which have emerged over the past couple of months. They are right to highlight inadequacies in support over this term, and their key asks were always at the forefront of our negotiations.
As your elected officers, we believe this latest commitment is a good deal for students and welcome the University listening to our concerns. We will continue this work to ensure new things are put in place for semester 2 to avoid many of the challenges faced this term.