UCL withdraws all academic sanctions for accommodation debt
University College London (UCL) sparked outrage early in June for threatening to prevent students participating in a rent strike from graduating or re-enrolling in the next academic year.
The university has now made a complete U-turn on all academic sanctions for accommodation debts, including those which are not part of the two rent strikes currently taking place. UCL will no longer implement academic sanctions to any student in accommodation debt.
Allegations were made that UCL’s threats were illegal as the Office of Fair Trade (OFT) found practices such as these unfair under consumer law:
“we [the OFT] consider that terms that allow the university to withhold graduation or progression … in a blanket fashion and regardless of the circumstances, are potentially unfair, and the use of such terms and practices may amount to unfair commercial practices”
In response to these allegations and after meeting with UCLU representatives, UCL’s Director of Student Residences, William Wilson, has stated:
“We will not be applying any academic sanctions to any accommodation debtor… I believe this is in line with the approach [UCLU] was asking for”
Halls Accommodation Representative David Dahlborn had this to say:
“This is quite a large step in the right direction and I don’t think we’ve seen [UCL] drop so many sanctions at once for a while. I’d like to add, however, that we’ve still got to win the strike and that it will still take a lot of hard work to ensure that justice is served for the students who UCL have exploited all year”
The rent strike at Campbell and Hawkridge House continues, with full support from UCLU. UCLU is also calling for an official apology from UCL and a full review of the university’s debt policies after these illegal sanctions have been revealed.