Hatfield students could be evicted after Uni of Herts said they could stay

PUBLISHED: 13:27 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:05 26 June 2020

The University of Hertfordshire's student accomodation. Picture: Craig Auckland / Diane Auckland

The University of Hertfordshire's student accomodation. Picture: Craig Auckland / Diane Auckland

© Craig Auckland / Diane Auckland /Fotohaus. Moral Rights Asserted. All rights reserved

University of Hertfordshire students could be evicted after residents of on-campus accommodation were told they must pack their stuff by July 11.

University of Hertfordshire's student accomodation. Picture: Craig Auckland / Diane AucklandUniversity of Hertfordshire's student accomodation. Picture: Craig Auckland / Diane Auckland

The Hatfield-based university had told students in April, according to emails seen by the Welwyn Hatfield Times, that their contracts would be extended, and they could stop paying rent in some cases, or they could cancel their contracts while still keep their belongings in their rooms until they were able to retrieve them.

However, The Welwyn Hatfield Times has now learnt that British and overseas students will need to empty their rooms by the July deadline.

One postgrad student from a Nordic country said the announcement, in the midst of quarantine travel requirements in the UK and at home ,would make the journey to collect her stuff virtually impossible.

She said: “Having the university evict us and expecting us to fetch our things within their set date is not only unrealistic but unreasonable.”

If the halls resident was to collect her belongings she would need to buy an expensive flight to the UK – with limited airline routes running –, isolate on arrival for 14 days, pack her stuff in three hours while being on campus, somehow get it to the airport and then isolate on arrival when she returns while finding somewhere for her things to go.

Though a university’s spokeswoman has now said, when asked for a response by the WHT, that they will store students belongings at cost price until they are able to return.

The Nordic student added: “This policy change has had a negative impact on my mental health. I had no choice but to accept the university’s offer to cancel my contract early as I was strongly encouraged by my government to return home as airports were closing”.

Students had previously asked the Uni of Herts if they can consider allowing halls residents to rent back their rooms in the meantime while quarantine and lockdown measures apply in the UK and abroad.

However, the institution has so far refused – according to students – who have set up a petition to the university, which has now received almost 500 signatories.

A spokeswoman from the University of Hertfordshire said: “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis we have offered our students living on campus the choice of staying in halls or returning home and releasing them from their 3rd term rent payment.

“Whilst the majority of students who decided to leave have made arrangements to collect their belongings, we completely understand in the current climate that there are circumstances preventing some students from being able to do so.

“As rooms will be required for new and returning students ahead of the 2020/21 academic year, the university is planning to safely store belongings that can’t be collected in a storage facility for a cost price charge, so that collection can be arranged at a future date.

“We urge students affected to directly contact the University’s dean of students, whereby one of the student wellbeing team will be able to respond and discuss next steps.”

The petition is available here change.org/p/the-university-of-hertfordshire-extend-eviction-deadline-for-students-living-on-campus-at-the-university-of-hertfordshire.

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