The management of the University of Bristol is attempting to break the student rent strike by witholding vital bursary payments from some of the most disadvantaged strikers.
Ahead of a scheduled meeting between university trustees and strike leaders tomorrow, the Student Funding Office has writen to all striking students in receipt of bursaries, threatening to use some or all of their December payments to (partially) pay off their arrears.
In the email – seen by Freedom – the Student Funding Office writes: “If the debt remains outstanding and overdue for payment on 26th November 2020, the University will use some, or all, of the December 2nd instalment of your bursary to offset any outstanding amounts. Any remaining bursary entitlement will be paid into your nominated account.”
One disabled striker, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Freedom that the threatened payment was crucial in meeting her immediate medical and access needs.
These strong arm tactics from management come in the same week as University of Manchester students demanded the resignation of the Vice-Chancellor, Nancy Rothwell, after footage emerged of violent racial profiling by university security guards. The university has emerged as a flashpoint for student anger at the handling of the pandemic, with protestors recently tearing down £11,000 worth of fencing erected by management to control access to the Fallowfield campus. Since last week, a group of students have been occupying Owens Park tower in Fallowfield accusing the university of “putting profits before students” and demanding for rental fees to be reduced by 40%, as well as early release clauses from tenancy agreements and increased student support.
For more info on the national student rent strike – visit the Rent Strike website
The University of Bristol has been contacted for comment.