Watch: Student rent protesters carried from building by bailiffs

·3-min read
Bailiffs carry a young a man through a corridor
Bailiffs carry a young a man through a corridor

The University of Manchester students have been forcibly removed from a campus building that they have occupied for more than 40 days in a protest over rent rises.

Bailiffs from the National Eviction Team were filmed lifting students off the floor of a university building and carrying them out of the premises.

Students said that around 15 bailiffs entered the Simon Building at around 5.20am and asked around 20 student occupiers to clear their belongings.

When students refused to leave, they were carried from the building.

Students have been protesting over rent increases of up to 6 per cent on university accommodation this year.

They argue that it is “unacceptable” for the university to have increased rents during a cost of living crisis when the university has £1.5 billion of unrestricted financial reserves, according to its latest accounts.

Their campaign is backed by Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, and John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor.

An investigation by The Telegraph earlier this year found that The University of Manchester’s student accommodation annual rents have risen by almost 14 per cent, or more than £700, since the start of the pandemic. Students face paying an average of £5,992 this academic year, up from £5,275 in 2018-19.

Bailiffs were sent in after a Court granted a possession order on Monday.

The university had previously instructed security guards to block off kitchens, hot water and food supplies in an attempt to remove the occupiers, students claimed.

A total of 11 students who occupied another building have been placed under disciplinary investigation and could be expelled, according to the occupiers.

£500,000 in rent withheld

A spokesman for the university said: “This action follows multiple requests to those occupying the building to leave … We very much regret having to do this, but the situation has been going on for a significant amount of time and has caused ongoing disruption to students and the people who work in the building.”

The occupiers have demanded a 30 per cent rent reduction and a guarantee that within the next three years, 40 per cent of student halls will be affordable. They define affordable as less than 50 per cent of the maximum student maintenance loan.

Student campaigners claim that, in January, more than 350 first-year students announced they were withholding a total of £500,000 in rent in protest against the fact that the university had increased rents by up to £450 for the 2022-23 academic year.

They have threatened to get even more students to refuse the next rent payment due on 20 April.

A university spokesman said: “We understand that the cost of living situation is having an effect on students, and many of them are worried or in difficulty. We have worked closely with students to put in place a package of support which is among the best of any UK university and are working at a national level to address the issues.”