Students: ‘We want reduction in rent and fees’

Undergraduates at City University are suffering disruption to their studies due to the pandemic – while paying up to £9,000 a year for tuition

Friday, 22nd January 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Shaima Dallili

Shaima Dallali: ‘Students have found themselves stuck studying from their bedrooms and stripped of most of the student experience’

STUDENTS are locked in a dispute with their university over rent reductions and tuition fee refunds because of disruption caused by Covid-19.

Undergraduates at City University in Northampton Square are studying towards their degrees from their bedrooms and say they feel let down after expecting more bang for their buck.

With some paying up to £9,000 a year for tuition, plus rent for accommodation, a campaign is under way calling for a rent reduction and fees refunds.

Shaima Dallali, 26, a recent postgraduate at City and vice president of the students’ union, said: “Students have found themselves stuck studying from their bedrooms and stripped of most of the student experience.

“The promise of an authentic university experience faded quickly.

“It’s about time City University recognised and addressed its shortcomings and the severe disappointment felt by its students. It must remedy the situation by honouring a refund in tuition fees and in supporting students in accommodation by committing to rent rebates.”

The City Students’ Union passed a motion in November arguing students deserve better for their money and are lobbying the university to refund tuition fees for years affected by Covid-19 and to freeze any future fee increases.

Law student Oliver Hall, 19, said: “We feel let down by the university. The job market has totally collapsed, especially in hospitality, which is where students mostly work. Students aren’t getting any income. The idea that students should be expected to continue paying high levels of rent is ridiculous.”

A spokesperson for City University of London said students should not expect a refund for online learning and are working hard to ensure the quality of education remains high.

They added: “City has continued to operate in line with government guidance for universities throughout the pandemic.

To ensure the health and safety of our community this guidance has required us to change how we teach and support our students.

“We provided clear information to our students about the impact these changes would have on their programme at the start of the academic year, including changes to their teaching and assessments.

“We have also worked hard to respond proportionately to further changes that have been required since the start of the academic year, to keep our students informed of these and to take on board their feedback.”

Ms Dallali added: “We believe that housing is a right not a privilege, and affordability is essential to ensuring that everybody can access higher education without being forced into poverty.”

The City University of London spokesperson said: “While City does not own or manage any student accommodation, we are pleased that two of our main private providers, Unite Group and IQ, are offering discounts or rent payment suspension to eligible students if they are not currently living in their accommodation.

“The cost of empty student accommodation is rightly a national issue and what can be done to help students is being discussed at government level.”

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