Bristol University students set for rent strike over their treatment during current lockdown

The Courtooms is in a temporary lockdown.

A group of students are planning a rent strike in protest at their treatment during the current outbreak of coronavirus at the University of Bristol.

According to the latest figures from the university, 725 students have tested positive for the virus and two sets of accommodation are in lockdown.

A group of students are holding a rent strike from Saturday (24 October) in which they are encouraging as many others as possible to stop paying "until the university treats its students better".


The University has responded to the plans and said students are being fully supported.

This is what the students are requesting:

  • No repercussions for rent strikers

  • No-penalty contract releases and deposit refunds for students who move out of halls

  • 30% rent reduction for the whole year for those who stay in halls

As well as rent demands, the students want the following from the university:

  • Outdoor access - they say students in lockdown should be granted at least one hour outside each day in accommodation courtyards and green spaces

  • Fresh food boxes should be delivered to flats and they should cater for all dietary requirements (e.g. halal and kosher)

  • Regular mental health check-ins twice a week with Resilife, the Residential Life Service at the university

  • Full transparency on the powers, role and actions of security staff enforcing lockdowns in halls

The students organising the rent strike have detailed their plans on a Facebook page. On it they said: "Students have been lured back to campus with the false promise of 'covid-safe' teaching only to end up in lockdown.

"We can't access the blended learning we were promised, nor all the halls facilities we are paying thousands for. Join us in withholding our rent until the university meets our demands."

More than 700 students at the university have now tested positive for the virus.

The university's Student Union has expressed its support for the strike.

In response to the students' complaints, a University of Bristol spokesperson said:

“We fully acknowledge how stressful and challenging it is for students living in University accommodation having to self-isolate. “We thank them for following Government advice to keep themselves and the wider community safe and are doing everything possible to support them. This includes providing cleaning supplies, laundry services and free food boxes with fresh goods which we understand some other universities are charging students for. “Security and support staff within residences are essential to remind students of the need to behave in a responsible and lawful manner. “Self-isolating students have full access to wellbeing and mental health support services, and our blended learning provision has been created to ensure they can still continue with their studies online. “Students who aren’t having to self-isolate are still able to attend face-to-face learning and move around freely within Government guidelines. “The health and safety of our students is a top priority, and our Residential Life teams are available 24/7 to offer help and advice. Regular support and contact with students will ensure everyone is kept up-to-date and can ask any questions. “We welcome further discussions with representatives from Cut the Rent and Bristol Students’ Union, but this is an issue that is affecting all universities at the moment and our actions are guided by Public Health England and the authorities to limit the spread of coronavirus.”

On Thursday 15 October it was revealed 159 people had tested positive for the virus in Bristol during the previous 24 hours.

The total number of cases in the city since March is now at more than 3,000 (3024).

In the latest update from Bristol City Council (published on Tuesday 13 October), the area's infection rate has also risen.

There are now 120 new cases per 100,000 people, according to data analysing case numbers in the seven days up to October 10.