Education, News, Politics & Society

MP condemns University for holding international students liable for empty rooms

International students at the University of Leicester are being held liable for empty rooms at their University-run accommodation, which has been condemned by local MP Claudia Webbe.

The University are refusing to cancel any contracts and believe that their 50% rebate for unoccupied rooms from January 4 to May 16 is a ‘gesture of goodwill’.

Leicester MP Claudia Webbe stated: “[Paying for rooms they are prohibited from using] is especially nonsensical for international students, many of whom have been residing abroad since December.”

Travelling to the UK from abroad would mean quarantining and would go against the guidance of the University which has advised all students to stay at home if they can.

International travel has been severely restricted since January, as one EU student states: “you need a good reason to travel, and being a student is not a good reason.”

The EU student was told that practical classes were an important part of her teaching, with the University telling her one term contracts were ‘not an option’ meaning she was left with no choice but to sign up to a ‘full contract’.

Mia Nembhard, 2020/21 Students’ Union President, stated: “This unfortunately isn’t a unique case and the results from our tuition fee campaign clearly highlighted that students felt they were mis-sold their student experience this year.”

The EU student stated: “There would be no purpose in coming back, all of my friends are home, and I would be lonely in my flat.”

The EU student has had no in-person teaching to come back to and returning would make completing her online exams harder to complete, as she needed a scanner for them.

She stated: “I don’t have a scanner in my uni room and all of the study spaces that are in the accommodation that are close by are closed.”

Claudia stated: “I have been leading a parliamentary campaign which calls on the government to scrap tuition fees, cancel student debt and provide full rent rebates.

“I encourage all students to contact their MPs in support of my campaign, and I urge the University of Leicester to provide all students with a full rent rebate as a matter of urgency.”

Louise Leslie, leader of the UoL Rent Strike Group, stated: “We are built on our connections to nations. Moves like this will simply move students away from this ‘world rebound” university.”

Mia stated: “students deserve to get their money back and it is evident from the amazing work of groups such as UoL rent strike that this won’t blow over.”

The University were contacted for a comment but did not respond.

Please note: quotes for this article were retrieved during Mia Nembhard’s term as Union President.


Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student. You can find him on Twitter here

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