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Our new accommodation pledge to students in halls

17 Nov 2020

A message from President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nancy Rothwell

Accommodation pledge

This hasn’t been the year that any of us would have planned, and I’m incredibly proud of the dedication shown by our residences staff in supporting our students at this time.

Over the weekend senior staff and I met with student representatives from our Fallowfield residences and Students’ Union Officers to discuss a number of issues raised by our students. The meeting was constructive, open and honest.

Having listened to the issues raised at the meeting about student accommodation and the concerns of other students on similar issues, we are today (Tuesday, 17 November) making a five-point pledge to all students in our accommodation.

1. A reduction in rent

There will be a reduction of two weeks’ rent for all students in our accommodation. This is equivalent to around 20% rent reduction for the remaining ten weeks of Semester 1. This will be applied to the payment due to be taken from students in January 2021. This represents a £2 million contribution by the University, and reflects the period by which the semester on campus has been shortened in compliance with government advice.

2. More flexible accommodation agreements

We know that a number of our students may choose to return home to study for part or all of this academic year, where their course allows this. Therefore, to give our students greater flexibility we are allowing students to break their accommodation agreement, clear their room and hand back their keys once during term time in the academic year 2020/21 without financial penalty. If students want to return later in the academic year, we will do our best to find them a place in our accommodation.

3. Better maintenance support

Students are having to spend more time in their accommodation so it is even more important that maintenance issues are resolved quickly. We will fix problems in the promised timescales. If this isn’t possible, we will offer alternative accommodation at no extra cost. Students can also request compensation.

4. Tackling antisocial behaviour

Students have told us that they are worried about reporting unacceptable behaviour and breaches of COVID-19 restrictions by their fellow students to us. We will therefore ensure that students can report anonymously and we’ll commit to investigating fairly and sensitively. The University will take firm action against any students proven to have behaved badly.

5. Better study spaces

Our students in halls also told us that they need more space to meet and study. COVID restrictions mean some of our accommodation doesn’t have spaces where this is possible. Therefore we will provide additional COVID-19 compliant meeting and study facilities at our main residences by January. We are also extending the opening hours of the Main Library, and continue to expand the number of study spaces available across campus.

We have also reminded students that there is a comprehensive package of support in place for anyone in halls who has to self-isolate. This includes access to dedicated online food deliveries and vouchers and mental health support.

We have given a commitment to continue to listen to and engage with student representatives. We will be having further meetings with student representatives to get feedback on other things we can do to help improve their time here in Manchester.

We will shortly be confirming details of a mass testing programme for students to help them get home for the Christmas break. In the coming days we’re also working with colleagues to explain the study options available on each programme after the Christmas break.

Nancy Rothwell

President and Vice-Chancellor