Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood Social Democratic and Labour Party, Foyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on ensuring that students tied into private rental agreements are supported during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Housing and student maintenance loans are devolved matters, as is higher education. However, the department has been working closely with colleagues in Northern Ireland to discuss a range of higher education areas affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The government encourages universities and private hall providers to be fair in their decisions about rent charges for this period.

Students who are tenants with individual private landlords should discuss the possibility of an early release from their lease.

If a student thinks that their accommodation provider is treating them unfairly, they can raise a complaint under the UK accommodation codes of practice as long as their provider is a code member. The codes can be found at: https://www.thesac.org.uk/ and https://www.unipol.org.uk/the-code/how-to-complain. The code of practice for the Landlords Association for Northern Ireland is at: https://www.lani.org.uk/about/code-of-practice/.

Students with a part-time employment contract should speak to their employer about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19) which has been set up to help pay staff wages and keep people in employment.

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