UCSA’s update on the halls of residence
The UCSA do not support any company unnecessarily profiteering from or exploiting students, particularly during COVID-19.
The UCSA will be submitting on the Inquiry of Education and Workforce Select Committee into halls to recognise those students who have any experience with UC accommodation during lockdown. As always, we want to hear from our halls students about your experiences, our door is always open, the president’s personal phone number is online, you can email at any point and our Advocacy and Welfare team are here to support you. You can also provide feedback anonymously through this online form.
We acknowledge the approach in Canterbury appears inconsistent with other Universities. We have uncovered that accommodation providers at the Universities did not offer 100% discount, but rather, the Universities involved paid the accommodation fee’s on behalf of their students. This means the academic dollar that everyone pays to learn at university, is being used to subsidise the rental costs of hall students.
We do understand the moral obligation we hold here to advocate for you, and that students are vulnerable and possibly suffering financial difficulty over this time. There are measures in place to help you including our hardship grant process to pay your rent if you are struggling and they are designed specifically for these circumstances. This is for anyone, not just those in halls. We’ve put these in place because student welfare for everyone should be top priority. Approaches like a rent strike put at risk all students’ rights in accommodation to access rooms, to eat and to pastoral care.
CLV have received a number of queries and concerns from the UCSA about students and have justified their position as follows:
We understand concerns from students CLV are exploiting students over this period by continuing to charge students for accommodation services. CLV have responded to COVID-19 by applying a 50% discount to those residents who had returned home for the lockdown period namely level 3 and 4. Over these levels, CLV, as an essential service, housed around 400 students at UC who elected not to return home, these students continued to pay full price. The 50% discount means students were not paying any catering and utilities costs, and also subsidised rental fees.
We have also investigated the possibility that CLV by claiming the wage and still charging is exploiting students. This notion we have found to be untrue. It is reported that CLV have claimed approximately $900,000 for the 3/6 facilities they operate covering 150 employees. The other 3, they do not own and therefore are not eligible for the wage subsidy in these areas. CLV have reported they are still required to service bank loans, fixed costs and utilities for all 6 of their facilities meaning they are still facing legitimate costs that most businesses have been subsided for.
These are not the views of the UCSA but rather a summation of the information we have received.
The welfare of all of our students is fundamental and we want to continue to advocate and respond to your needs especially now.
(03) 369 0544