What will we do?
From here on out, Heriot-Watt University Student Union will only allow advertisement through any Union channel, physical and electronic, from external student accommodation providers or Purpose-Built Student Accommodations (PBSAs), who act responsibly throughout the current pandemic. PBSAs must have done the following to be considered suitable to advertise:
- Release students early from contracts where needed, without penalty and in line with the response from Heriot-Watt University Halls of Residence.
- Provide clear and holistic public-health advice to any resident choosing to remain a tenant in their premises throughout this pandemic.
- Freeze any arrears until the pandemic has passed.
- Provide competent safeguarding and wellbeing support to those residents who have to stay during this pandemic.
- Provide reasonable adjustment for those who may have to stay beyond their contracted date due to travel restrictions.
All current marketing campaigns and bookings will be suspended until these demands are met.
What is the background to this?
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the financial wellbeing of students is under attack from all angles. Many have lost jobs in the ‘gig economy’ or through precarious zero-hour contracts. Many have had to fork out for unplanned travel home, and shipping of belongings. Some are now supporting family members or entire households. Student parents now must spend more on food for their families as they are at home following school closures.
PBSAs are renowned for their expensive price point, but many students rely on their services – including many of our international students who have now had to return home to stay safe.
What beliefs motivate these actions?
Many of our students, particularly international students live in PBSA’s across Edinburgh. Not giving clear guidance on contracts causes huge extra stress to our students who will already be facing extra pressure from this pandemic.
Many institutions across Edinburgh have agreed to let students terminate their contracts. PBSA’s should be following these institutions in order to do what is best for students.
By ensuring we only allow advertisement from socially responsible PBSA’s, we continue to stick by our values of being student-focused. Our students are not cash cows and we will not do business with those who treat them as such.
Motion passed by Parliament majority: 27/3/2020
Motion proposed here.