ACCOMMODATION providers have been urged not to “trap” students who have had to leave their halls early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The call from the Scottish Greens comes after The National highlighted the case of one student in St Andrews, who lives in halls run by Hello Student, who has had to vacate his residence because of the nationwide lockdown, but who will still be forced to pay his rent there for the next three months.

MSP Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesperson, called on providers, including Hello Student and iQ Student Accommodation, to follow the example of Unite Students and others by releasing those impacted by the public health emergency from their tenancies.

“It is great to see that providers like Unite Students have made a commitment that no students will be forced to pay for accommodation that they can’t use because of a public health crisis,” said Greer.

“This is clearly the right course of action and one that is appreciated by those students affected. Unfortunately, other providers, including iQ Student Accommodation and Hello Student, have instead disgracefully refused to support students at this time of crisis.

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“In response to enquiries from my colleague Mark Ruskell MSP on behalf of his constituents at St Andrews, Hello Student even ludicrously tried to claim that it ‘does not provide university accommodation’.

“Instead of trying to maximise their own profits, companies like Hello Student, who have access to the same government support as any other company, should recognise that they must do the right thing by students at a time of crisis.

“If they are not moved by the moral case, perhaps they might consider that many of the same students they are treating abysmally today will be looking for accommodation next year, and if this behaviour carries on they might just look elsewhere.”

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said he had written to university and college chiefs as well as accommodation providers urging them all to reconsider agreements reached with students before the emergency and subsequent lockdown.

He said: “I’ve also asked that – in addition to this ongoing support for students remaining in accommodation – institutions look sympathetically on any need for students to extend their stay beyond existing arrangements.

“I have also asked that this be extended to those who have returned to the family home and are having to ask to break agreements, and that institutions continue to be as helpful as possible to avoid disadvantaging these students.”

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