Campaigners from the Murray Edwards Student Collective dropped a banner at the Kaetsu gate Murray Edwards Student Collective

Yesterday morning the Murray Edwards Student Collective staged a banner drop at the college’s Kaetsu gate marking the ‘Rent Strike - National Day of Action’, the latest stand by students against the college’s high rent prices.

The banner reads ‘Rent 2 high? Take action!’ and accompanies a statement on the Student Collective’s Facebook page. While the group “welcomes” progress made by the college this term, such as on the clarification of rent structures and extension of financial support, it insists this still “mask[s] a larger problem within the system: rent is too high.”

The Collective yesterday joined CutTheRent student campaigners from universities such as Durham, Bristol and Trinity College Dublin in a day of protesting poor living conditions and high rent prices.

Murray Edwards average rent prices are the second highest - £170,57 weekly - in the University, second only to Robinson, according to the 2018 CUSU Big Cambridge Survey. Despite this, the College Council in January pledged to raise rents by 2.4% for 2019/20, and also came under fire in April when it released a rent survey questioning students about their clothes and cosmetic spending.

In response to the survey and campaigning by Murray Edwards students since 2017, the college has changed how rent appears in bills, showing an annual cost instead of splitting the price into rent and ambiguous ‘overhead charge’. It has rationalised room prices, such as redistributing costs in its Pearl House accommodation to reflect room sizing, and has improved its Enhanced Bursary Scheme, which now allows the allocation of funding automatically to certain students in need.

Yet the Murray Edwards Student Collective brands these improvements “superficial”, and has told Varsity these “concessions do not go far enough.”

The group highlights how a survey conducted by the group of 148 Murray Edwards students in November reveals a “clear link between the cost of rent and physical and mental well-being of students”, and that high costs place “strain on mental health and academic performance.”


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In response to these allegations, a college spokesperson told Varsity that “the College does not seek to make money out of student rents and continue[s] to make a very significant contribution towards accommodation costs.” They denied the changes this term are insignificant, insisting “increased funding of the Enhanced Bursary Scheme will cost the College an estimated £50,000 this year alone.”

The spokesperson further presses that the college understands applying for financial support can be difficult and is “continuing to look at mechanisms to allocate financial support to those in need more automatically.”

Responding to the damaging effects of rent costs on students’ mental health, the same spokesperson maintained “student wellbeing is of paramount importance” to them and explains changes made so far, and suggested those “experiencing financial difficulty to speak to their Tutor.”

Despite this, the Murray Edwards Student Collective has reiterated to Varsity that it “will keep pressuring Murray Edwards for rent cuts in a variety of ways, and continue to act in support of all students here.