Isabella Lenihan-Ikin


New Zealand’s student body president says universities need to show humanity and stop charging students for hostel rooms they are not able to use.

Victoria University has backtracked on plans to charge students a $150 per week placeholder fee for rooms they were advised to vacate when the lockdown began.

The university had said it had waived the fee during the level 4 lockdown but had to keep paying about 180 staff and residential assistants, and had incurred costs of more than $2 million in its accommodation services.


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Yesterday, the university shelved the plans after they sparked a rent strike from students and backlash from politicians from across the political spectrum – including the prime minister and the minister of education.

The university said it now would not charge students until at least 11 May when the government decided whether or not to move to alert level 2.

The Ministry of Education would not allow anyone who left university halls prior to lockdown to return during alert level 3.

New Zealand Union of Students Association president Isabella Lenihan-Ikin said backtracking by Victoria University was a “massive win” for students and showed their strength.

“The collective power of students across the country has been demonstrated,” she said.

“We have been able to show that when we come together and we fight against a decision made by a university we are able to win.”