UK University Students Spent £1bn This Academic Year Paying for Unused Accommodation

University students in the United Kingdom have wasted around £1bn during the whole academic year, paying for accommodation which they did not use due to Coronavirus restrictions, according to estimates of the National Student Accommodation Survey by Save the Student.

The survey, which has involved 1,300 university students, has shown that the average student paid £1,621 rent for their rooms, money which has not been refunded, Erudera College News reports.

According to findings:

  •  46 per cent of respondents said they would have taken different decisions about where to live if they understood how the pandemic would affect their education.
  • 43 per cent of respondents had spent under three months on campus.

Whereas, one in three students are planning to require their landlord a break clause during the next year in order to give them more flexibility.

According to the National Union of Students’ vice-president higher education, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, students have persistently been ignored during the pandemic.

“We are seen as cash cows, with many stuck paying extortionate rents for properties they either cannot use or cannot afford,” she said.

According to Save the Student estimations, the high rents that students must pay absorb the three-quarters of their maintenance loans at an average of £146 a week. The situation has pushed students to launch the biggest rent strike in 40 years.

Some landlords and private halls of residence said they would not offer discounts to students, whereas some others have provided full refunds.

According to survey findings, a third of students have been granted a discount of an average of £75, although the latter has been extended to just 6 per cent of students in private rentals, while half of the survey participants were unsatisfied with their accommodation provider’s decision. 

So far, the government has offered £70m as additional support to students facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic.

A month ago, students in Wales also asked for compensation for university accommodation, at least partially, saying they have not been using it as they remained abroad due to COVID-19.

Plans about the return of students who remained abroad amid lockdown are set to be announced during the next week. At the end of the year, the latter was asked to remain in those places where they spent Christmas, which in most of the cases were their home countries.

Despite plans, it is expected that groups of students will not be permitted to return to campuses until May 17, 2021.

Students of St Andrews University and the London School of Economics have already been notified that they must continue studies remotely for the remaining part of the year.

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