The University of Salford has announced it will give students hit by the pandemic up to £1,200 towards their rent.
Thousands of students across Greater Manchester face uncertainty over whether they will have to pay rents despite being told not to return to accommodation this term.
The government’s advice is for students to stay ‘remain where they are’ to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
But fees of as much as £3,000 are due this month for the spring term.
It was reported last week, the situation is made more complex because some students live in University-owned accommodation and others in privately-owned flats.
Salford, Manchester and Manchester Met universities all said they would be looking at ways to help students.
The University of Manchester confirmed on Friday that no student who hasn’t returned to halls of residence will pay rent for the time their room is unoccupied.
Those who are already back at halls will get a 30 per cent discount until the end of January but are then expected to pay full fees.
The payment date of January 21 has been pushed back to a date yet to be confirmed to give students more time to consider what they want to do.
Anyone who wants to cancel their contract is free to do so without penalty, the uni says.
Manchester Met said it will be ‘introducing an additional rent reduction’ for students in university-owned accommodation.
The scale of the discount was not specified but the uni said it will cover until at least mid-February and will be extended in line with government guidance.
No further rent money will be collected until students can return to campus, the uni added.
Now the University of Salford has announced its plans and the launch of a Covid-19 Assistance Fund ‘to support their students with the financial impact of the ongoing pandemic.’
The fund will help students living in halls and in privately owned accommodation with the cost of rent, as well as for students with financial issues not related to rent, the uni says.
The University will be making a payment to all students living in Campus Living Villages (CLV) accommodation – the University’s exclusive accommodation partner.
It was revealed how a group of students in Peel Park received an email from CLV at the start of January making clear that they were expected pay rent in full on January 12.
“There is no legal argument for you not to pay rents,” a member of staff wrote.
However, negotiations between the University of Salford and CLV have been ongoing since then and rental payments on January 12 will now be paused, it has been confirmed.
Accounts will now be adjusted to reflect a ‘contribution’ from the university and new rental payments and dates will be confirmed ‘as soon as possible’, the uni said.
The University says it will be making a payment to CLV to the value of £1,000 per student for students in John Lester and Eddie Coleman accommodation and £1,200 for Peel Park Quarter residents, who are located on campus with more facilities and more expensive rents.
Salford students living in private halls from other suppliers and those living in private housing will also be able to apply for £1,000 contribution from the assistance fund.
This fund will be open for applications on Monday 18 January and will close on Friday 29 January. The eligibility criteria and full details of how to access this fund will be available to students from Thursday, 14 January.
The Uni said any student in need of financial help can also apply to the fund for support.
Dr Sam Grogan, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Experience, said: “We know that the current government guidance is frustrating for students, and we hear and share those concerns. By launching this fund, we hope to provide some financial support during these incredibly challenging times.
“We have worked as quickly as possible to deliver this support, in a fast-changing situation with no advance warning of recent government announcements.
“The issue of student accommodation and rents is a sector wide concern, and one that needs to be urgently reviewed by government.”