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Letter to VC University of Hertfordshire: Herts Lib Dems Stand up for Students

January 12, 2021 11:47 AM

Lib Dem Councillors and Activists from across Hertfordshire have written to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire asking for clarification regarding its position on rent expections for on-campus accommodation at the University. Lib Dem Hertford Rural candidate Daniel Newton says:

'It is essential that students are supported at this worrying time. We want to work with the University to make sure they are not paying the price for services they cannot access.'

You can read the full letter below.

Dear Vice Chancellor,

Re: Rent expectations for on-campus accommodation at the University of Hertfordshire

We hope you and your colleagues are well and staying as safe as possible.

On behalf of residents across Hertfordshire, we would like to thank you for everything you have done and continue to do in these tough times to maintain as normal a university experience as possible, and for keeping students and staff as safe as can be. It is not lost on anyone how difficult some of the decisions and transitions to a new way of working have been, but the efforts you and your staff have made have been appreciated.

As we witness the start of a new year, a new term and now a new lockdown, we are writing to you with concerns we and many other representatives across the country are hearing from residents - rent payments students are expected to pay.

Following national guidelines and law, many students have been told that returning to universities is prohibited until at least mid-February. Students are willing to comply with the restrictions, but equally feel they are being penalised for doing so - in part due to the large sum of money that has been/will be taken from their bank accounts. Thousands of students will not spend the next six weeks (at least) in their rented accommodation because they have been told they are simply not allowed. This has come on top of students already feeling the effects of coronavirus restrictions with the retail sector (a huge employer for people aged 18-24) struggling and jobs becoming increasingly harder to find, as well as a growing number of people (particularly students) facing significant mental health challenges. Understandably, many are therefore asking why they should have to pay for services, such as their accommodation, which they are gaining no benefit from.

Students unable to access their campuses during lockdown

Students Unable to Access their Campuses During Lockdown

Thus, we would like to seek clarity on what your expectations are for students' accommodation payments - should they have to pay their full rent, regardless of them not using the facilities they are paying for? What measures are you putting in place, if any, to freeze, reduce, reimburse or scrap rent payments for students? We understand that responsibility lies with the government too - with thousands of students also in private rented accommodation, what are you doing to be on the side of students in fighting the government for support?

There is no doubt these are complicated times, but equally students should not have to bear the brunt of the consequences of coronavirus restrictions - as previously stated, young people have been some of the hardest hit financially and are feeling little respite. It would be a huge relief to thousands of students and their families to see a freeze, reduction, reimbursement or scrappage of rent payments until there is an easing of restrictions that allow students to again use the facilities they are paying for.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Daniel Newton, Cllr Paul Zukowskyj (Cllr for Hatfield South), Peter Taylor (Elected Mayor of Watford), Cllr Sarah Nelmes (Leader, Three Rivers Council), Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Cllr Dawn Allen, Cllr Ruth Brown, Cllr Jaida Caliskan, Cllr Helen Campbell, Cllr Paul Clark, Cllr Malcolm Cowan, Cllr John Hale, Cllr Joe Dumont, Cllr Siobhan Elam, Cllr Adrian England, Cllr Frank Marsh, Cllr Robin Parker, Cllr Lara Pringle, Cllr Nigel Quinton, Cllr Ayesha Rohale, Cllr Sally Symington, Cllr Ron Tindall, Cllr Sandy Walkington, Cllr Tim Williams, Duncan Jones Cllr Sophie Bell, Cllr Chris Wilson, Cllr Andrew Porrer, Paul de Kort, Simon Mostyn, Tim Rowse, Richard Snowdon, Nigel Taylor, Elaine Thatcher, David Middlemiss PhD BSc, Calvin Horner, Joe Thomas, Dave Bromage, Carole Luck, Gemma Moore