To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they have provided to students who have to continue paying for their university accommodation but cannot live there due to the restrictions n place to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
8 February 2021
This has been a very difficult time for students, as it has for everyone, and we encourage universities and private landlords to review their accommodation policies to ensure they are fair, clear, and have the interests of students at heart.
Since universities and private accommodation providers are autonomous and responsible for setting their own rent agreements, the government plays no role in the provision of student residential accommodation. Whether students are entitled to a refund or to an early release from their contract will depend on the specific contractual arrangements between them and their provider.
If students have concerns about their accommodation fees, they should first raise their concerns with their accommodation provider. If their concerns remain unresolved, and their higher education provider is involved in the provision of the accommodation, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.
If students think their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly, they 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.shtml.
More broadly, the government does of course recognise the financial hardship that some students may face in these exceptional circumstances. The Department for Education has worked with the Office for Students to clarify that higher education providers are able to draw on existing funds, worth around £256 million for academic year 2020/2021, towards hardship support. We are also making available an additional £50 million of hardship funding this financial year. In total we have made £70 million of funding available for student hardship given the £20 million made available to higher education providers in December 2020.