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Student occupiers celebrate victory after Manchester University pays out £12m rent rebate

STUDENTS staging an occupation at the University of Manchester were celebrating victory today after winning a £12 million rent rebate from campus authorities.

The students have called off their occupation of disused residency building Owens Park Tower at the university’s Fallowfield campus after agreeing to a 30 per cent rent cut.

Students say that they were “lured” to the university despite the coronavirus pandemic because bosses wanted to ensure payment of their £9,250 tuition fees and rents of up to £140 a week for accommodation in halls of residence.

On arriving at the Fallowfield campus in Manchester they were confined to their accommodation and security guards were placed on entrances.

The university erected security fences between halls of residence, and around the campus, which students tore down in protest.

Some started a rent strike and launched a “£9K4WHAT?” campaign in protest at having to pay tuition fees while not being given the face-to-face teaching they had been promised.

The occupiers called for a 40 per cent cut in their rent, but initially the university only agreed to 5 per cent.

However the university and students have now agreed to a 30 per cent cut.

Hannah Phillips, one of the students involved in the occupation, told the Morning Star: “Despite trying to appease students with an insulting 5 per cent reduction in rent earlier this week, the university has now, as a result of continued direct action, agreed to reduce rent by 30 per cent for the entirety of the first semester.

“This amounts to a £12 million pay-out, which makes this the largest win for a university rent strike in known history.

“Although an incredible victory, this money pales in comparison to the £40 million ‘surplus’ that the university reported in the 2018-19 academic year. 

“And despite Covid, the figures for 2019-20 are estimated even higher, due to the university’s concerted drive to bring in more international as well as home students this year.

“No more can be expected from an education system driven by profit.”

The students’ action was supported by the University and College Union, Manchester People’s Assembly and other campaign groups.

Ms Phillips, who is a member of the Young Communist League, said support for the students’ action had been nationwide.

Manchester University has been approached for comment.


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