City of Durham MP Mary Foy and Seun Twins, SU President, have written to landlords (through a letting agent) and Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) providers asking them to offer refunds to students unable to use their accommodation in Durham.
They noted that Durham University had already promised to refund students in college accommodation if their room was unoccupied during the Epiphany Term. Given that the majority of students rent private accommodation, they sent a joint letter to private providers to request that they refund students on the same basis as Durham University.
Where private providers are genuinely unable to offer refunds, Ms Foy and Ms Twins have asked the providers to work with them “to find a solution, alongside the Government, which will help students at this very difficult time”.
The letter notes the interruption that the pandemic has had on students’ education as well as the financial toll students have faced “paying for services and accommodation that they are not able to use”.
They note in addition that “many students have not been able to continue in part-time work alongside their studies, and the majority will not have furlough schemes to help them.”
“Many students, especially those from less advantaged backgrounds, rely on work in retail, hospitality and student services to get by, and those avenues have largely been closed to them over the last year.”
Last week, Foy pressed Education Secretary Gavin Williamson in the House of Commons to refund students for the cost of their accommodation this term. She later lambasted on social media the “threadbare support” provided by the government to students at this time.
Image: Office of Mary Kelly Foy MP