Spare a thought for our returning second-, third- and fourth-year students; particularly those with rooms on campus this year. It seems that, whilst first-years were offered rooms on relatively flexible terms this year, including the option of studying remotely over Michaelmas Term and only beginning to pay rent after Christmas, returners are being held strictly to the conditions they signed back in December. The university’s stance is:
You signed for the room, so you’ll pay for it from October, whether you’re occupying it or not. Students who decided to study away from campus, and hence declined to start paying rent, are reportedly now receiving formal letters demanding payment from college accommodation staff.
The University makes it clear in Our Promise to new students:
for those unable to join us on campus in September, a warm welcome will await you later in the year. Specifically,
for all new students, accommodation contracts will only begin when students collect their keys, which means that if you need to move in later than expected, accommodation fees for the period before you arrive will be waived. What about returning students, though?
The official terms and conditions, at:
make a strict distinction between contracts accepted on or after 23 July, where deposits will be returned if the agreement is made remotely and
not completed by the collection of the keys in the presence of the Lancaster University member of staff, and contracts accepted before 23 July, where no such exception applies. Hence
our promise to returners seems to be
pay up or else, despite the goods not exactly being supplied as originally promised.
The city councillors for the campus have pressed senior university officers on this point, most recently on 22 October:
The councillors feel that
no one should have to pay for accommodation they are not living in. As reasonable as that sounds, it appears that Lancaster University begs to differ.