Tag Archives: rent


It all started so well for the Students’ Union. In subtext 169 we reported on their campaign against an unnecessary rent increase of up to £249. To make their displeasure known, LUSU set up a stall and put £249 worth of pasta on display. A little gimmicky, we thought, but enough to get the usual ‘our costs are going up and we have the best halls ever anyway’ line trotted out by the university. And so, we sat back, and then… nothing. There was no further campaigning action, no publicity releases about negotiations, and no attempt to actually mobilise students into a General Meeting, or a protest, or anything.

And then the SU was complicit in the abolition of University Court (detailed above under UNIVERSITY COURT), the decision making body with the largest student delegation, the only one to which any student representative could propose motions and policy, and at which students had fought and won against the university.

But the University Court was due to be abolished anyway, and perhaps it wasn’t the best hill for the SU to die on if it wanted to pick more important fights. As the industrial action took hold of the entire higher education sector, and the student body increasingly swayed towards the side of the staff, subtext eagerly awaited the SU’s statement of intent, and its plan of action, before issue 173 went to print. The plan, it transpired, was to ’empower [student] opinion with impartial information.’ Yes. After making clear that it wasn’t best pleased that the action was going ahead, the SU decided that it wasn’t even going to OPPOSE it. Instead, it put out some tepid ‘on the one hand this and on the other hand that’ infographics. Thankfully, hundreds of students spontaneously organised, many of whom were heard shrieking with derision at any mention of the SU, joined by striking UCU members.

Even JCR officers weren’t safe. A series of posters denouncing the Vice-Chancellor’s salary and lack of funding for the counselling service quickly disappeared from campus, and LUSU’s higher-ups were reported to have advised the JCR officers responsible to take a different tack, apparently pledging to help ‘broaden’ the campaign and attract wider attention. As we predicted in subtext 177, such a campaign never came to fruition – LUSU simply quashed the activism.

LUSU might have made better decisions, be it on Grad Ball (which this year was cancelled for the first time since the 1970s), opposing strike action, or allowing fascism on campus to be funded, if it were more accountable to students, and hadn’t gutted almost all of its accountability structures in 2015 (as we recalled in issue 174). Could LUSU’s ‘scrutiny panel’ have curbed this behaviour? No. In subtext 174, we noted that the ‘scrutiny panel’ hadn’t met at any point during the nine months that the sitting sabbatical team had held office, and was denounced by a former appointee for producing toothless reports that ‘nobody reads.’ Perhaps a General Meeting of the student body could have passed policy? Not a chance – LUSU’s General Meeting failed to reach quoracy, because they failed to seize the enthusiasm around the rent increase in the first term, or the industrial action in the second term to drive attendance. In lieu of a quorate General Meeting, LUSU instead held an ‘online general meeting’, which is completely unconstitutional and has zero powers to authorise LUSU to do anything.

There must have been SOMETHING keeping LUSU’s political wing busy, because one now-former officer appeared on Bailrigg FM back in May boasting to a Labour Party representative that by-election turnout was healthy because LUSU had bothered to do a bit of promotional work, even though it ‘isn’t their job’ (it is).

subtext keeps a close eye on all of the university’s most influential wings, and the SU is one of them. You can read all of our reporting on the SU’s activities throughout 2017-18, which is far more detailed than our VERY brief recap, below.


http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/2018/02/01/court-the-final/ |
















That was then. This is now. subtext is pleased to report that the new team of LUSU full-time officers seem to have got off to a blistering start, by calling a student demonstration against the proposed introduction of 6pm to 7pm lectures, during this Saturday’s Undergraduate Open Day. The details:


Don’t miss your Week 1 subtext for our full report on the ‘extended teaching day’ proposals, including why you shouldn’t dramatically increase your undergraduate numbers without also dramatically increasing your lecture theatres, and why this problem isn’t going to go away any time soon.


Visitors to campus in recent days may have been rather baffled by the amount of pasta being handed out to passers-by. Those in the know, however, may well have been pleased to see some protest activity from the Students’ Union around an issue that clearly matters to students. The issue in question? On campus rents are set to increase by 4% – up to £249 per year – and LUSU officers highlighted the real terms of cost of this by setting up a stall with £249 worth of pasta (although we do wonder if £249 worth of beer might have been more relatable).

In response to the uproar, the University released a very brief statement, citing the usual ‘increasing costs’ and the fact that we consistently are voted ‘Best University Halls’ in the National Student Housing Awards. And, incomparable though we are, the usual opportunity to point out that we are better than our comparator institutions (which are, of course, chosen by us and are subject to change). Oddly, the statement does not offer the usual defence that comes up, which is that our agreement with UPP requires us to increase our rents above the rate of inflation year on year.

The institutional memory at any university is short, and by now the vast majority of students who were around in the 14/15 academic year will have gone in an almost complete change of blood. That’s a great shame, because it means that few are aware of the almighty year long war that raged between the SU and the University over a 2% rent increase – a series of protests that culminated in the first occupation of University House in over 2 decades, and forced the University’s hand in getting back around the table with the SU to agree on how to approach rent increases in the future.

It was ‘agreed’ during these negotiations that there would be greater student representation on any bodies that discuss and implement rent increases, as well as greater consultation. That the SU has responded so viscerally to the rent increase suggests either that they weren’t consulted, or that they weren’t listened to. Indeed, the response from the SU should be commended, given that such information has historically been imparted to SU officers on a ‘commercial in confidence’ basis. LUSU’s ‘Pay More, Get Less’ campaign highlights an increase in the cost of living, as well as a decrease in the block grant that they receive from the University to provide services to students. Couple this with the 2% cuts that all non-academic departments have had to make, as well as the multi-million pound risk that Lancaster is taking by involving itself in the ridiculous Gary Neville University and the costs of the campus redevelopment, and the message is clear – the University’s wild spending on vanity projects and commercial adventures is being placed on the shoulders of students. The students are Lancaster’s biggest single source of income, with around 47% of income coming from tuition fees in the last year for which records are available (15/16). This percentage has steadily increased over the past years, but perhaps the continued expenditure on projects that seem to do little to improve things for students shows that top table is rather unashamedly ignoring this.

The subtext collective wishes the SU well in its campaign, and we encourage our readers to involve themselves in it: https://tinyurl.com/y7umspov 


FROM: Mike M. Shart, VC, Lune Valley Enterprise University (LuVE-U).
TO: Jacob Woolly, President, LuVE-U Student Experience Coordination Unit.
CC: Hewlett Venkklinne, Lead Negotiator: External Cognizance.
SUBJECT: Rent increases.

Dear Jacob,

Please see attached the official university response to the rent complaints.


LuVE-U has some of the best student accommodation in the North West of Lancashire, taking the title of Best University Halls in the Karaganda Architectural Gazette for seven of the last eight years.

In order to maintain the minimum standards expected by our students, we need to continually refurbish the entire campus and make the necessary investments – the rent rises present students with the opportunity to pay for more expensive and therefore better electricity and water, as well as a happier cleaning and portering workforce. You don’t want us to not pay the cleaners, do you?

These costs have been rising and it has been necessary to bring about an increase in student rent to reflect that cost. Rent at LuVE-U’s incomparable accommodation remains lower than at comparator accommodation providers, such as the Ritz, Emirates Palace, and the Westin Excelsior.


I also notice that you were complaining about the fact that we reduced your block grant this year. We figured that since you streamlined yourself and released 65% of your workforce last year that you wouldn’t be needing the money, and if you’re going to squander it on £249’s worth of lentils and ponce around campus with it, it’s clear that you don’t.

Kind regards, and I hope to continue our harmonious working relations,