Socialist Worker

Student action wins big rent cut in Manchester

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2733

Students celebrate the news of the rent cut

Students celebrate the news of the rent cut (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Students at the University of Manchester (UoM) have won a 30 percent cut in rents for this term after months of protest.

A rent strike, protests and an occupation of the Owen park tower in Fallowfields all led to the university being forced to make this concession.

Every student in halls will receive between £600—£900 back. The reduction amounts to £12 million in total.

Fin, an English literature student who took part in the occupation, told Socialist Worker that it was fantastic to see the power of protest at the university.

“We have been able to see the effects of direct action, and that a grassroots campaign can actually have a material effect.” he said.

Concessions made by the university are a result of the tireless activity of students supported by the staff since the student returned to campus in September.

The UoM rent strike group together with the Socialist Worker Student Society and others organised protests as soon as students were locked into their accommodation in August.

When fences were put up around the Fallowfields accommodation, students took part in an angry protest and tore down the fences at the start of November.

And students at Fallowfields had their largest protest after the attack on a black student by one of the campus security guards.

Exposure

The rent strike group was also able to hit the university where it hurts—its profits. And the continued exposure of UoM's terrible management of student welfare during a pandemic was a contributing factor to why concessions were won.

And an occupation of the Owen Park tower at Fallowfields put further pressure on the university.

Fin said that despite there being a small number of students in occupation the press took an interest which meant their cause reached larger numbers of people.

“Across layers of people we amassed so much support for what we were doing.”Fin added that the aim now is to keep on fighting, he told Socialist Worker, “We are still planning to be on rent strike in January, and we hope to get more people to join.

“We have to keep pushing out and turn this into a national movement. And it doesn’t have to be a movement just about rent. It should be about beating back the neoliberal university as a whole.

“Students are being radicalised. They are realising they are being exploited. I think people are now more than ever coming to more left wing and radical conclusions.”

Rent strikes are spreading to other areas. Students from Bristol university are continuing their rent strike and Cambridge university students announced they would be calling one on Wednesday.

Students at Manchester have shown that direct action can force universities to make concessions.

UoM rent strike and the UCU solidarity movement have organised a national student staff assembly this Saturday 28 November, 10 am-1pm. Register at bit.ly/2JUTtHB

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