Students have called on the university to stop collecting rents from students who will be unable to move back into their accommodation at the start of next semester.
Earlier this month, the university announced that it would be operating a staggered return to campus over a several week period.
Members of the Stirling Student Tenants’ Union (SSTU), a group that represents students in housing matters, have started a campaign arguing that students who are unable to return to their accommodation should not have to pay rent until their return to campus.
The group have set up a petition arguing that students could be struggling financially while struggling to find part-time work during the pandemic, and that the university should cover the rents of students while they do not have access to their accommodation.
The group went on to argue that student mental health is at a “breaking point” and that adding financial stress to that would have a negative impact on students.
The SSTU’s campaign also calls for students in private lets returning to Stirling next semester.
A spokesperson for the SSTU commented on the petition, arguing the importance that t
“We decided to create this petition to show the university how crucially important it is that rent refunds are introduced.
“This is not something management can ignore, and we will continue to raise this until we hear a definitive answer offering rent refunds.
“To ignore the pleas of students and continue to take rent payments from them in a period where income is next to none is a cruel cash grabbing tactic by our university management.
“Students deserve better treatment than this.”
A spokesperson for the University of Stirling said:
“The University has been in contact with our students with advice, guidance and information about COVID-19 safety measures, including the safe return to University accommodation for the new semester. We’ve also provided information regarding the additional support measures in place for our students remaining in University-managed accommodation over the holidays.
“Return to our managed accommodation will be phased over six weeks with students required to book in advance their arrivals slot. Arrivals will also be complemented by the availability of free asymptomatic testing at our on-campus test centre.
They added that the university has systems in place to support students facing financial difficulty and that individual cases would be looked at for students unable to return.
“We understand that some students may be unable to return at the beginning of semester as planned and, for those impacted, we will work on a case by case basis. Students facing financial difficulties can also apply to the Hardship Fund for financial support – any student in this situation is encouraged to contact Student Support Services or the Students’ Union for help and advice.”
The Students’ Union’s Housing Officer and General Secretary Cian Ireland, a vocal critic of Accommodation Services, added that students should “not pay a penny” for accommodation while they can’t move back in.
“The lack of communication and clarity on rent in the next semester reinforces years of similar experiences for Stirling tenants. It doesn’t matter whether its university or government that deal with this but one of them need to front up and ensure student tenants don’t pay a penny of rent for housing they can’t access. Anyone who wants to do something about this should sign up to the tenants’ union and get in touch so we can organise against this.”