BROOKES students are 'stressed out' after being threatened by debt collectors to pay their rent.

The students are being chased by debt collectors to pay their remaining accommodation fees for the period where students were 'encouraged' to go home between March to July 2020 due to the national lockdown.

Sam Payne, a second year student at Brookes who studies business management, has said the situation is 'unfair'.


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He explained: “The charges are from the last period, from March to the end of July. They were in discussions for a while about what was happening, about the rent.

“People were expecting them to waiver the fee.”

In March, Oxford Brookes University closed its campus, like all other UK universities, and moved to online teaching.

Unlike other universities, such as King’s College London, the University of York and all Scottish universities, Brookes did not give students the option to cancel their accommodation contracts.

Instead, Brookes offered students a discounted fees of 50 per cent discount or £1,200, depending on which was more.

But the business student and his friends do not think this was enough.

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He added: “The discount was absolutely fine, they were trying to do the best they were going to do, but I haven’t heard of any other uni's only taking 50 per cent off.

“I’ve heard of other uni's allowing students to cancel accommodation contracts, but that didn’t happen here.

"I owe £835. My student loan now goes on my current rent; I don't have enough money. I couldn't get a job over lockdown.


"It is a crazy situation and they are not being fair with it all.

"They are threatening me with court dates and legal recovery dates.

"It's a daunting situation and a scary situation; as much as I am an adult now, I have never had to deal with this before."

Sam is not the only student dealing with this situation. He said several students he currently lives with are in the same situation.

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He added: "God knows how many people are affected like me."

The student's father, Ben Payne, 45, who lives in Addlestone Surrey said: “They have now handed it over to a debt collecting agencies, 19/20 year-olds students being chased by debt collectors.

“The debt collection agencies are using terminology that is threatening; using words like “taking you to court”, is distressing enough as it is.

“The university told them to go home, the uni was closed.

“Brookes did not give the option to cancel accommodation contracts – it was not an option for Brookes.

“They expected rent when students couldn’t and weren’t allowed to stay there.

“The uni told students to go home, govt told all uni's to close and Brookes did this but still expected to pay the accommodation.

"The students thought this was unfair, and they should have been given the option to the cancel contract, but now they are being handed over to the debt collection agencies.”

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Mr Payne and his son both said if they had to go to court to settle the matter, they would fight their cause.

The father added: “There is a case that they shouldn’t be paying for it.

“Some of his friends are standing firm, but some are thinking ‘I’m just going to pay it because I’m being threatened with legal action.’

“My response to the debt collectors is we look forward to our day in court, because this payment is not fair.”

Mr Payne added the university is acting ‘really unfairly’ by putting students ‘under additional stress’.

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A spokesperson for Oxford Brookes said:

"We understand that lockdown was an anxious time for students and that concerns about money were very real."

The university added that those who had vacated Oxford Brookes owned and managed residences by 18 April 2020 would have their accommodation fees discounted up to £1,200 or 50 per cent, which ever was greater.

They also said: "As a result of this decision, we estimate that almost 60 per cent of affected students had their remaining rent fully discounted and were not required to pay any more for the period after 18 April, whilst around 40 per cent - generally those in more expensive accommodation or with longer contracts - had their rent substantially discounted.

"The university proactively encouraged, and continues to encourage, any students facing financial difficulties to speak to its Student Finance team."