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Government response
government response summary
The Government encourages universities and private halls providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period.
government response details
We recognise that students are very concerned by this unprecedented situation, but universities are autonomous institutions, independent from government, and have sole responsibility for making their own business decisions. Universities also have diverse operating models and their financial situations will be different.Government plays no direct role in the provision of student residential accommodation, whether it is managed by universities or private companies.Rent refunds are a matter for the higher education providers and private companies that students contract with for their accommodation. Government is not considering using taxpayers’ money to reimburse any parties in relation to rent paid for periods when rooms are unused.The Government encourages universities and private hall providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period. A number of universities and large companies have waived rents for the summer term or released students early from their contracts.Private student accommodation providers who refund rents may be able to access the support packages announced by the Chancellor to protect businesses (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19)Students who are tenants with individual private landlords can discuss the possibility of an early release from their tenancy agreement. Students impacted by Covid-19 who rent from private landlords can now be assured that eviction proceedings cannot begin against them for 3 months. As a result, no renter in private accommodation will be forced out of their home during this difficult time. For further information and the specific legislation please see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2020/7/schedule/29 (Students renting under licence, as applies in most halls, are ineligible for this particular support.)The negotiation of rent waivers and early releases from contracts is a matter between the parties concerned.Students will continue to receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the current, 2019/20, academic year.Students with a part-time employment contract should speak to their employer about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been set up to help pay staff wages and keep people in employment (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19)We have also asked that HE providers pay particular attention to the additional financial hardships that are being faced by student staff who have been reliant on income from campus-based jobs at this time.Many providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April and May, towards student hardship funds.It is also important to stress that accommodation providers should not have previously instructed any students to leave – if an accommodation provider did formally instruct a student to leave the property, then it would not be acceptable to continue to charge student rents.Students who think their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly can raise a complaint under the accommodation codes of practice as long as their provider is a code member. The codes can be found at: https://www.thesac.org.uk/ , https://www.unipol.org.uk/the-code/how-to-complain and https://www.rla.org.uk/about/nrla-code-of-practice.shtmlAs regards tuition fees, universities are autonomous and responsible for setting their own fees. In deciding to keep charging full fees, universities will of course want to ensure that they can continue to deliver courses which are fit for purpose and help students progress their qualifications. Any refund is a matter for universities, so we are not considering a write-off of tuition fee loans.Government has previously responded to a petition concerning reimbursement of tuition fees. The response to this petition can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/302855?reveal_response=yes#response-threshold Department for EducationThis is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/304855)
government response created at
2020-05-26T10:54:58.463000+00:00
government response updated at
2020-06-16T16:01:38.624000+00:00
government response has e-petition
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e-petition has government response
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