NUS pledge their support in students' rent strike campaign
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Following rent strikes from more than 1,000 students earlier this year, as of the 18th of June The National Union of Students (NUS) has joined the renewed campaign for affordable university accommodation. The students claim that the rents are a form of “social cleansing” in London, in order to exclude poorer students who cannot afford the extortionate rent costs. University College London (UCL), Goldsmiths, Roehampton and Courtauld Institute of Art are among the universities who have taken part in the rent strike to highlight the unaffordable rent costs and poor quality accommodation. Soaring rent prices have been widely recognised as completely unaffordable. One lecturer at Goldsmiths was particularly concerned, stating: “This issue is infecting every aspect of student life”. He highlighted that even students who qualify for maximum student loans are working two or three jobs, which inevitably affects their study. “They are not showing up for lectures” he said, “and we have lecture rooms half empty." “Some have been working in catering industry jobs until around 5am and are simply too exhausted to study. The whole thing is affecting our capacity to teach”. Research published by NUS revealed that 60% of graduates who lived the with £9,000 tuition fees also have consumer debts averaging around £2,600, as well as their student debts. This means that during a student’s time a university they could borrow as much as £53,000. With recent cuts to maintenance grants by the government, this puts students with less money even further into debt and gives students a difficult start to their working lives as they are already in debt. The NUS have therefore pledged to help mobilise students and facilitate rent strikes, along with providing legal support about communication with universities. Vice president of NUS Shelly Asquith said that they are “demanding an end to the exploitative profits from university accommodation”. UCL have demonstrated the benefits of committing to rent strikes, when over 1,000 students withheld payments in a rent strike that lasted five months. Despite threats by the university, in June this year UCL’s campaign Cut The Rent declared victory with a £1 million concession, as well as promises of bursaries and rent freezes. The campaign has found new momentum following this success and the support of NUS.
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