‘UCL Cut the Rent’ secures progressive bursaries and rent freezes, bringing the campaign’s total wins to £1.49 million.
Today, the ‘UCL Cut the Rent’ campaign announced that their five-month long campaign, which included 200 students going on rent strike, had ended following a series of concessions from UCL. These victories include; the creation of a £600,000 ‘progressive’ bursary for first year undergraduates in the 2017/18 academic year, another £600,000 allocated to rent cuts for the most affordable halls in the 2018/19 academic year, the halving of accommodation deposits to £250 and a rent freeze for 1224 rooms in 2017/18.
The victory builds upon the campaign’s previous efforts of 2015/16, where 1000 students participated in the rent strike. This first strike ended after UCL agreed to allocate £350,000 for students in 2016/17. This brings the cumulative winnings of the two campaigns to £1.49 million.
Part of the agreement stipulates that ‘UCL Cut the Rent’ will continue to work with UCL accommodation in the allocation of the ‘progressive’ bursary. The bursary will ‘extend beyond traditional and limited means testing standards’ and promises to help ‘EU and International students’ and those from ‘higher-income backgrounds struggling to make ends meet due to circumstances such as familial estrangement’.
The campaign has inspired several other university ‘Cut the Rent’ groups. In 2016, the NUS ran a rent strike workshop, which aimed to help students from across the country create their own campaigns, largely because of the successes of ‘UCL Cut the Rent’. ‘Bristol Cut the Rent’ announced on the 29th of June that their own rent strike had ended for the year following the reduction of a planned increase of rents from 4.5% to 3.5%. Likewise, a similar campaign at Goldsmiths university, lead to a cut of 35% to hall rents.
This rise in ‘direct action’ protest takes place upon a backdrop of drastic rent increases across the country. For private tenants, the Royal Institution of Chatered Surveyors predicted that rents will increase by over 25% in the next five years. At UCL, ‘Cut the Rent’ characterises a 48.4% increase in rent between 2009 and 2016 for students as ‘tuition fee increases by stealth’.
Photo Credit: Oscar Webb