Students in the United Kingdom, including students at Cambridge University, are demanding rent reductions and greater flexibility from their universities in relation to leaving their accommodation, in the light of the current public health situation. Given that the United Kingdom is, essentially, back in a full national lockdown from 4th January 2021, this problem is unlikely to end soon.

According to ‘The Tab’ [1], a website covering youth and student culture, a group calling itself ‘Rent Strike Cambridge’ launched a rent strike about a month ago. The group is pledging to withhold rent payments for Lent term from all Cambridge colleges until the group’s demands are met. These demands include:

· A 30% rent reduction for the current academic year and a permanent 10% rent reduction across all Cambridge colleges

· The university and colleges committing to no Covid-19 job losses

· No action to be taken against ‘rent strikers’

The main source of the complaints has been explained by a student group called 'Rent Strike Cambridge', who said:

We are striking for students who have been isolated for weeks, for students paying extortionate rents, for underpaid staff forced to work overtime with the threat of redundancy hanging over them.

And a recent post from ‘The Tab’ [2] states:

“Cambridge students have been told to stay home and start their term online, in an email from Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope received earlier today. Professor Toope has also said that students in Cambridge, or those who are returning under special conditions, will not be able to leave Cambridge until the end of the national lockdown.

Many students, it seems, do not want to be taking this action, but feel that they have no choice. In another article [3] , one student, called Liam, at Sussex University said:

“Lots of us were promised online and in-person learning. But the truth of the matter is, very few of us have any in-person teaching time at all.”


rent – money that you pay to someone (called a ‘landlord’) for the use of a room, a house, a flat, or other accommodation that you live in.

strike - In this context, it means refusing to do something that you should do, because you are unhappy about a situation. People at work sometimes 'go on strike' in order to try to get better pay or conditions at work.

to pledge – to promise

to withhold – to refuse to give something (such as a payment that you should make) or to keep something back.

Lent term – This is the name of the winter academic term at some universities in the United Kingdom, including Cambridge, Liverpool, Lancaster, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Cambridge colleges – Students at Cambridge University must be members of one of the 31 Cambridge colleges, founded between the 13th and the 20th centuries.

extortionate – In relation to the price or cost of something, it means much too high.

overtime – This is time that you work in addition to your normal working hours.

redundancy – If you are redundant, you are no longer needed for something (usually a job). Redundancy is the state of being ‘redundant’ – not needed.

to hang over – In this context, if something is ‘hanging over you’, it means that there is a threat of something happening which often causes you stress. ‘I have had the fear of failing my exam hanging over me for weeks.’




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