Manchester students continue rent strikes despite ultimatum from university  

University of Manchester students occupying John Owens received an ultimatum threatening disciplinary action if they had not left the building by 4pm yesterday

But rent strikers are continuing to occupy buildings including the Simon building and many are continuing to withhold their rent payments for three weeks. 

A first-year humanities and politics student, who lives in Oak House, expressed his disappointment in “general lack of decent living” and rent costs.  

He said: “The university is pretty much ignoring us and pretending that we don’t really exist apart from with the occupations now. With rent striking in particular they have just been a bit aggressive like with the emails they’ve been sending people. 

Email notification sent to students from the University.

“The occupations are definitely working very well, and the university is now very much thinking about us. I think it has really boosted our message, especially nationally, and of course other unis have just started occupying buildings and barricading them in.  

“So, I think it’s definitely going to spread, and I think that is the best thing we can do to get a better idea about how cost of living crisis is affecting students nationally.” 

Students at a solidarity pop-up gig at Whitworth Arch – Image by Natasha Judge

Many of the students have said they cannot afford to remain living in the halls of residence, especially within the cost of living climate.

Occupying students said that parents are going into huge debt trying to support their children, students are working full-time jobs, and some are skipping meals to try and facilitate the high costs for poor standards of living.  

Slogans in support of the strike action have been reinforcing the Vice Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell’s salary being at £260k.  

Rent Strikers at John Owens Building – Image by Natasha Judge

The University of Manchester said: “Our primary concern is the health and safety of those people who are currently occupying the buildings. 

“The normal working of the university is continuing. We continue to monitor the situation carefully.” 

Many of the students from Oak House residence are within those occupying groups. Common issues reported in the university owned accommodation are mould, damp, mice and rats, on top of the existing security issues and break-in incidences. 

The students’ desired outcome is for their demands to be met without punishment for striking or occupying. They have echoed that they want to see a commitment from the university to affordable renting for future cohorts of students. 

People have been showing support and solidarity nationwide for the students’ cause. To keep updated on the strikes you can visit their Twitter or Instagram

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