Many University of Manchester Students Refuse to Pay Rent Due to Cost of Living Crisis

University of Manchester

A large number of University of Manchester students living at university-owned accommodation are refusing to pay rent this month due to the cost of living crisis in the country.

Students said that they are joining the strike over the cost of living crisis and will demand from the university a 30 percent cut on monthly rents and compensation for rent payments they have made earlier. As The Guardian reports, students emphasized these payments are no longer affordable.

The organizers of the strike said that until now, more than 150 students have decided to join the action; some have canceled their direct debits, while others have said that they will refuse to pay rent after January 19.

“We know that the university can do much more to materially help students deal with this crisis. The money is there to support UoM students without ripping us off,” organizers told The Guardian.

The newspaper further reported that the amount students must pay for rent totaled over £100,000 because the average payments during the spring semester stand at around £1,800, while the organizers predict that the total sum that might be withheld is more than £300,000.

According to data collected from a survey by the Office for National Statistics carried out between October and November 2022, 91 percent of university students in England felt the effects of cost of living increases.

More than nine in ten students also said they are concerned about the rising cost of living, half of students said they are experiencing financial difficulties, and one in four students reported they had no other choice but to take on new debt to manage covering the cost of living increases.

Out of these students who had to take on new debt, including those who borrowed more money than usual, 66 percent said they did so because they could not afford the essentials amid the cost of living crisis only with their student loans.

A very high percentage (77 percent) of students said they were worried that the crisis might affect their studies, and 34 percent said they are less likely to continue studying once their courses are finished.

Rising costs have also affected the mental health of many students, with 45 percent reporting a deterioration in this regard since the beginning of the autumn semester of 2022.

“Compared with previous academic years, this is significantly higher than students reported at around this time in November 2021 (32%), but significantly lower than in November 2020 (65%) when restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic where in place,” the survey report said.

A few months ago, the University of Manchester launched a £9 million package to help its students with the cost of living and their well-being at the same time. The school also said it will offer its full-time students a payment of £170 and part-time students £85.

The UK university sector body, Universities UK, also called on the government previously to take action to support students struggling financially due to the impact of the cost of living crisis.

Photograph: Szymon Shields | Pexels

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