University of Manchester students withhold half a million pounds in rent strike protest

Organisers say 350 students have participated in this month’s rent strike

Rent strike organisers at the University of Manchester have told The Tab that a total of £500,000 has been withheld as of yesterday’s rent strike deadline.

According to the organisers, 350 students cancelled their direct debits by yesterday’s deadline in response to year-on-year “unfair” increased price rises by the university and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

A number of students have got in touch with the The Tab and told us that they are striking due to poor quality accommodation, simply not being able to afford it or out of a ‘sense of justice’. 

Manchester Rent Strike has demanded a 30 per cent reduction in halls rent for the remainder of this year. The group also wants a 30 per cent refund for rent payments made by first year students in October.

Wary any reduction the students get might be passed on to future students in the form of increased rents, the group has also called on the university to commit to not raising halls rents for at least three years.

One of the rent strike organisers, first year history and politics student Fraser McGuire told The Manchester Tab, students are fed up with “being squeezed for profit”.

“It’s a combination of how substandard the accommodation is and how much we’re paying for it,” he said. “It makes me angry and I think it makes a lot of other students angry.”

He added: “I’m really excited at the numbers we’ve hit, it shows that students are angry and willing to act.”

“It’s also significantly more than they had for the first rent strike last time apparently (in 2020), although theirs did carry on over two payments.”

There is a further rent payment due on 20th April. Manchester Rent Strike has not ruled out striking again, saying they will escalate their protest further if the university is unwilling to negotiate with strikers.

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said: “We will do everything we can to support students who are unable to pay their rent and urge anyone struggling to speak to us as soon as possible.

“Any student who is struggling with their rent or any other financial hardship can apply to our expanded cost of living support fund for a grant of up to £2,000. This is part of a £9m package which includes a payment of £170 to all full-time students.”

The University of Manchester disputes the figures put forward by the organisers.

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 ‘I simply can’t afford to pay it’: The reality of the Manchester rent strike

Manchester Rent Strike is calling on first year students to withhold millions in rent this month