Wishing for a happy New Year; students hope they have overcome the worst

Struggling students are optimistic about a brighter new year after relations between learners and institutions grew tense over the past few months.

Students at the University of Manchester had one early Christmas present, with a rent reduction following a two-week rent strike.

Though a decision has only been made for the first semester, the reduced amount equates to 20% off. 

The University of Manchester’s updated accommodation pledge.

However, this was not accepted as well as the university may have hoped. Protesters said this was “far from enough” compared to their demand of a 40% cut in fees.

Two students, part of the organization ‘9 k 4 what?’ described the university’s recent actions as “a blatant show of disrespect”.

Laura Dickinson said: “It’s really important that the university gets their act together, and we think the way they’ve treat[ed] us is disgusting”.

The university made the offer after the topic was discussed in Parliament on Monday, November 16. They have since said that this two-week rent reduction for all students in their accommodation will be applied to the next payment, due in January 2021.

Rent strikes have been now begun across the UK at many universities. The general demand is for a 30–40% rent cut for the whole year in light of the continuing pandemic and lockdowns. Rent Strike Bristol tweeted that the university put “the lives of students and staff at risk by bringing students to halls”.

Over the last three months, there has been mixed emotions about the way students were reintroduced to education this year. 

Students have now been given the go-ahead to return home this Christmas, in an evacuation-style operation, taking place from Thursday, December 3.

Students are yet to hear about the instructions for returning in January, if there are to be any.

Mike Tidesley, from Spi-M, says students going home for Christmas and returning to campus in January poses a real risk to case numbers at the start of 2021.

With a rise in coronavirus infection rates in September, many students took the brunt of the blame. The concern now, is whether there will be another repeat in January, when students return to campus after the 3–5 week break.

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