Returners with essential face-to-face teaching are given a 15th February return date whilst others are left in limbo.
The University of Glasgow accommodation service has updated their rent rebate policy for semester two, meaning that certain students will be ineligible for refunds. Those who had booked travel in line with the initial lockdown end date, expected to be 25 January, will not receive fee reimbursement. It appears that if students do not return after the specified dates, 15 February at the earliest, or before the end of the academic year, they will also be unable to receive compensation. This is despite ongoing travel restrictions imposed by the Scottish government and the vast majority of first-year classes being delivered online.
In an email sent to those affected, the University told students that “regarding rent rebates, please note the updates: only students returning on or after the authorised dates will be eligible”. Students that fall under the category of “essential” returns have been told to recoup in Glasgow on 15 February. For the rest of the student body however, the uncertainty continues with a return date yet to be confirmed.
The decision has attracted the attention of local politicians on Twitter, with Paul Sweeney, the former MP for Glasgow North East and MSP seat hopeful, stating that “a full refund should be available to all students who have been in University accommodation due to lockdown restrictions and no face to face teaching”. Scottish Labour leadership hopeful and MSP for Maryhill, Kieran O’Neil, said that “this updated policy flies in the face of students in halls who have been thrown under the bus more than once this year”.
Speaking to The Glasgow Guardian, the Glasgow University Student Tenants Union (GUSTU) have attributed the recent change to “callous profit-orientated University management, operating with a lack of clarity in the middle of an incredibly tumultuous period for students, revealing themselves for what they are: a university that prioritises profit before wellbeing”.
The GUSTU has called for government intervention: “This latest move has made students’ living situation even more uncertain instead of working to solve the rent crisis. The time has come for the government and universities to consult with students beyond their student unions to find an equitable solution to this crisis.”