Stirling University accused of breaching Covid-19 regulations over accommodation contracts

Contracts for university accommodation at Stirling University claim students are unable to cancel their tenancy if they continue to study at the university, it has emerged.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 5:31 pm
Stirling University has been at the central of a controversial tenancy agreement
Stirling University has been at the central of a controversial tenancy agreement

Will Cruickshanks, an accountancy student at the university was told he was unable to cancel his £133 per week tenancy at Stirling if he wanted to continue studying.

Under the Scottish Parliament’s Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act, students are legally allowed to cancel their tenancies with 28 days notice, without any other conditions applying.

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Stirling University said it was complying with the regulations and supporting students to choose “what they feel is right” for them in regards to where they live.

Will Cruickshanks, a 27 year old accountancy student, was told he could not leave his tenancy agreement and remain a student

Mr Cruickshanks, 27, initially thought the clause in his accommodation contract saying he was unable to leave while remaining a student was inaccurate and old information.

However, he was later told by student accommodation services that it was indeed the case and he was unable to end his contract.

He said: "I said there was no physical reason for me to be on campus and I didn’t realise what they were saying, they said you cannot cancel your contract while you are a student at the university.

"I don’t think it is a particularly good look, a lot of people have had the same reaction as me.”

The student from Ayr said he was only told by his university that he had no face-to-face learning when he arrived on campus, despite several emails asking for clarification ahead of the beginning of term.

For Mr Cruickshanks who has gone to university for the second time, the situation lends credence to the accusation that students were brought back to campus to help shore up university finances.

He said: “I have seen people saying that it is not about the money but in what world is the student experience being locked in halls and not being able to go home or socialise.

"That is absolutely not the student experience I remember and I have been down this road before.

"There is a strong distinction between the academic side and the business side of universities and that has never been as manifest as the last few weeks.

"The fact that you are being told to come to university to have face-to-face teaching and then being told you have no face-to-face teaching but you can’t leave is not acceptable.”

Following the change in guidance from the Scottish Government, who Mr Cruickshanks “should have taken more action” to help universities with students returning, the accountancy student is back home with his mother in Ayrshire.

He has served notice on his contract, but does not yet know whether it will be accepted.

He added: “I will go back whenever I feel it is safe.”

A University of Stirling spokesperson said: “These are unprecedented and challenging times, and we are supporting students to choose what they feel is right for their own physical and mental health.

"For students choosing to end their stay in University accommodation, we are following Scottish Government legislation as laid out in the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020.

“In the interests of public health, we ask any students leaving University accommodation to adhere to Scottish Government guidance regarding self-isolating as it applies to them.”

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