A group of Dundee students are calling for their rent to be scrapped during the second coronavirus lockdown.
Students at Abertay University say it is grossly unfair to make them pay for halls of residence rents, while the vast majority are prohibited from returning to Dundee.
Owen Wright, president of the Abertay Student Tenants’ Society, is appealing for more support from both the university and the Scottish Government.
Mr Wright, who is currently in his third year of studying computer games technology, said: “With the current coronavirus restrictions students are not to return to their halls or their accommodation for semester two.
“Our concern here is students are still paying for halls and rooms that they are just not using now, which is not fair and not right.
“Currently Abertay University is only offering students 50% off their rent.
“The whole situation has devolved into quite a mess and it is not a tenable situation for anyone.
“So we are calling on the Scottish Government to implement some demands to fix this.
“For example, cancelling rent in student halls and those with private providers until face-to-face teaching resumes, and protect international students from having to pay upfront fees.
“Applications for rent relief should be streamlined and made more accessible, because at the moment it can be really hard to access some hardship funds.
“We don’t think it is right, and at the end of the day housing should be considered as a human right rather than something to be exploited.
“And anyone who relies on work to pay their rent might not be able to right now and that is also not being looked at properly.”
The student tenants’ society has since penned a letter to the university and joined a national call to the Scottish Government for more support.
Following the Scottish Government passing the Coronavirus Scotland 2 Act 2020, students are now able to give just seven days’ notice if they are living in halls of residence or purpose-built student accommodation and have signed a tenancy agreement.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government added: “We also welcome the action many universities and student accommodation providers have already taken to offer students rent reductions, credit and refunds, and would urge others to adopt similar flexible approaches.
“During this time of great uncertainty and financial hardship for many, these provisions will relieve a significant extra financial burden on students.
“We continue to urge accommodation providers to look on requests from students sympathetically, to ensure they are not disadvantaged.
“We will take whatever action is considered to be necessary when there is evidence that private housing providers are trying to frustrate students’ ability to exercise their legal rights.”
A spokesman for Abertay said student wellbeing was the university’s “paramount concern.
He said: “We will be discounting rent by 50% for all students living in accommodation provided by the university from the start of next term on 25 January.
“This arrangement will apply until student lease agreements expire.
“Student wellbeing is our paramount concern and all students can access a range of free practical, emotional and financial support through our support enquiry zone.
“This includes welfare and hardship funding, mental health support, counselling, an advisory service and provision of food vouchers/food parcels where needed.
“Since the pandemic began, we have also introduced a 24-hour support helpline and smartphone app to ensure students can speak to trained advisors outside of office hours.”