HUNDREDS of students in Oxford who live in accommodation provided by the Unite Group will be forced to pay half their rent if they are unable to come back to this city during the third national lockdown.

The UK's largest student accommodation provider, which has 177 properties across the country, has offered its tenants a 50 per cent discount if Covid-19 restrictions have stopped them returning for their studies.

The rent discount was announced on Monday but a number of Oxford Brookes and University of Oxford students already said the move is 'outrageous' and 'disgusting'.

One student Kyle Borgatz shared his anger in the Facebook community group Overheard at Oxford Brookes.

He said: "Despite not occupying a room, you still have to pay £400 with no mention of plans in place, in case the current lockdown is extended, which looks likely.

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"This is outrageous; the largest provider of student accommodation is not willing to freeze contracts during a lockdown legally enforced by the government."

Other students, who rent studios, not single rooms, pointed out they will be faced with a £700 bill even though they have not visited their rooms in months or used any of the utilities.

To be eligible for the four-week discount students will need to be up to date with their rent payment as of January 31, 2021, and not be in residence in a Unite Students property between January 18 and February 14.

Richard Smith, chief executive of Unite Students, said: "We feel this is the right thing to do.

"Working through this decision has had its challenges as there are a range of varying circumstances to consider in different parts of the country and across different universities.

"Universities remain open, unlike the first lockdown, and we continue to have thousands of students living with us."

Mr Smith confirmed all Unite properties remain open and operational.