“The occupations have been coordinated to coincide with the UCU strikes which begin on the morning of the 9th and will see more than 70,000 university staff walk out across the country.”
By the Manchester University Student Occupation
Students at the University of Manchester have occupied three buildings and are demanding that the University agree to the demands of the ongoing student rent strike, as well as the demands of the UCU who are currently taking part in industrial action.
The buildings occupied include the Engineering building and the Samuel Alexander building. The occupations have been coordinated to coincide with the UCU strikes which begin on the morning of the 9th and will see more than 70,000 university staff walk out across the country.
Earlier this year on January 19th, around 350 first year students at the University of Manchester announced that they were withholding rent amounting to over £500,000 to protest the fact that the University has increased rent in student halls by up to £450 for the 2022 academic year, at a time when inflation is at a 40 year high. The University also announced that they have nearly doubled their financial surplus over the covid period, and are currently making over £119 million per year.
More than half of all students in England are currently facing financial difficulties, with more than three quarters worried that increasing prices will negatively impact their academic success. It is undeniable that students are on the frontline of the cost-of-living crisis, which is affecting millions of people across the UK.
The combination of sky-high rents, the marketisation of the higher education sector, and the spiralling cost-of-living are also having a major negative effect on the mental health and future plans of students. Nearly half of students have said that their well-being and mental health has worsened since the start of the autumn term, and over a third have indicated that they are now less likely to continue in education once they have completed their course. An NUS survey also found that one in ten students use foodbanks.
The demands of the occupiers are
- No disciplinary action or punishment from the University against the rent striking or occupying students
- Accept the rent strike demands
- A 30 percent reduction and rebate in rent for the full academic year
- An agreement from the University not to increase rent for the next three years
- For the University to commit to ensuring that at least 40 percent of student halls meet the NUS definition of affordable.
- Proper cost of living support
- £1,500 payment to all students, to cover the real terms drop in student maintenance loan announced by the government
- Remove barriers to accessing hardship funds
- Publicly support a settlement with the UCU
The occupiers have said that action will continue indefinitely until their demands are met.
- You can follow the University of Manchester Rent Strike on twitter for more updates about the occupation.