The University of Exeter sent a Registrar email to all students stating that in response to the national lockdown that was introduced on Monday 4 January the decision was made to waive the rent charges during this lockdown period for those who do not return to their accommodation.
Students have been calling for rent fees to be waived and the University, after reviewing its approach to accommodation fees have developed a policy along with their accommodation partners. This policy was implemented after the university took into consideration the challenges that students were facing with having to make payment for rooms that the Government are advising they do not return to.
This decision made by the University will cover the entirety of the national lockdown which is currently expected to stay in place until at least mid-February. The next steps given by the University in the email stated that if you are not currently occupying your university accommodation not to make a payment, if you have already made the January payment then the University ‘will adjust you account by the appropriate amount following the lifting of the national lockdown’ for which the process will begin in due course. Those who are permitted to return to campus and those who remained over the winter break should pay their rent, and if any students begin their occupation during the lockdown than they will be charged from the date they arrive.
The email also mentioned that for those who are currently residing in private accommodation, which is the majority of the student population, the university are unable to do anything as the contracts are out of their control. They made sure to include that those who may suffer financially because of the lockdown measures should seek support and apply to the ‘Success for All’ Hardship Fund. The Students’ Union Advice Service and the Students’ Guild Advice Service are also available to offer guidance to students.
The Guild released a statement that said, ‘they are very happy to hear that the university have listened to [students] concerns and will be waiving accommodation rent charges during lockdown’, and encourage students to continue to give feedback. The Guild also state that for those in private accommodation they ‘have not forgotten [them]’. Guild President Sunday Blake is meeting with other Presidents from ‘SU’s all around the country to put plans in place to collaboratively lobby the Government to create a financial package for landlords to allow students a relief from rent charges.’ Alongside this statement they have included a link to a template letter that can be sent to landlords and MP’s as well as FAQs on accommodation.
We are currently waiting on comments from the University.