#SaveOurStudents campaign calls on Government to provide financial support to students and accommodation operators.

Housemates, an end-to-end student accommodation platform, is today launching its #SaveOurStudents campaign, calling on the Government to provide financial aid to students and student accommodation operators struggling because of the UK’s national lockdown.

The #SaveOurStudents campaign will raise awareness of the challenges students are facing and demonstrate the need for change and flexibility in the student accommodation sector more widely. The campaign is currently backed by student accommodation partners including Allied Students and Herbal Hill Studios with more partners coming on board.

Since the lockdown began, many students have been forced to pay for student accommodation that they are not allowed to return to, with little action being taken by privately-owned PBSA or HMOs to support students with rent refunds or rebates. Equally, student accommodation providers need government support at both an institutional and private level to provide these rebates to guarantee their future while they are losing revenue.

Despite the Scottish and Welsh governments announcing monetary aid for some students, more support is needed, according to Housemates. Students are already facing an extremely difficult start to their working life due to the pandemic and recession, and the company feels the piecemeal approach of relying on the goodwill of universities, property managers and private landlords will not suffice in this urgent situation. Without Government intervention and financial support now, students will remember this and there will inevitably be a knock-on effect that will impact the higher education and PBSA sectors, local university towns and greater economy for years to come.

Lydia Jones, Founder and CEO at Housemates said:Whilst we support lockdowns to ensure the physical safety of those across the UK, students are suffering from the stress of having to pay for unused student accommodation and their massively disrupted education more broadly. Students have been blamed and dismissed a lot during the pandemic by Government and higher education institutions, often being described as irresponsible, immature or childish, and with some institutions suggesting they should treat lockdown as a ‘retreat’.

“Yet, when it comes to attending university, they are adults – they leave their homes to travel hundreds even thousands of miles to make a life choice and commitment to education. They are then asked to sign contracts and take on huge debts and legal liabilities. It is unacceptable for them to be treated differently from other consumers, especially when they are crucial to the future of our economy and need urgent support to enter the working world. It is critical now for the Government to step in and provide financial support to students and accommodation providers to see them through this crisis and avoid long-term damage to our higher education sector.”

Short-term response

Housemates’ end-to-end student accommodation platform already allows students to book accommodation in minutes, rather than weeks, and is the fastest, simplest and most secure booking option in the market. But to provide further, immediate support, Housemates is launching Flexi-book, a new feature that will allow students to book accommodation for a custom period of their choice, without having to call, email or live chat with an agent.

Due to launch in March 2021, students will be able to request and pay for their selected accommodation dates at a time that suits them, just like a hotel or Airbnb, and the operator has 24 hours to accept the booking. In the short term, the solution will help students that have already exited their current 2020/21 tenancy to book fresh accommodation after the lockdown without requiring the full financial commitment of an academic year, and help operators fill occupancy for the current and forthcoming academic year despite low consumer confidence. In the long-term, it will provide transparent, safer bookings for students on shorter courses or placements, and greater peace of mind and flexibility for students overall.

For further information, please visit www.housemates.io.