March 2024

Guild Officer invited to Westminster to discuss national student housing crisis

By Joseph McQuarry

Share post:

Read time: approx 4 mins

Natasha Fernandes, University College Birmingham’s Guild’s Equalities Officer, was recently featured in the government’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for students on the national student housing crisis.

With the University committed to raising the quality of experiences for students and Natasha’s specialism in the challenges that international students and students with caring responsibilities encounter, the APPG provided parliamentarians with the knowledge to inform policies on student housing.

Natasha was joined by other student leaders on the panel from University of Nottingham, Oxford Brookes University, University of the Creative Arts and University of Lancaster; as well as Johnny Moore, Head of Business Management, Student Experience Division from Durham University; Paddy Jackman, the CEO of Unipol; Paul Blomfield MP who chaired the event and the National Union of Students UK, who provide secretariat to the APPG.

The meeting opened with general context from Paul Blomfield, talking about rising costs of rent, student hardship and substandard accommodation. Natasha then discussed her area of specialism: guarantors in the private rented sector, and the specific challenges faced by international students and care leavers who may not have an eligible, UK-based guarantor. 

Natasha had raised the need for multifaceted solutions in the face of the challenges these groups of students face – highlighting the need for regulations around affordability, financial assistance, and support navigating the legal process for these students.  

"I’m really grateful for the chance to raise the profile of these students, and of this University in Parliament. Students can understand and influence policy changes, as we have been doing on the Renter’s Reform Bill, and I look forward to working with others in the Guild to help more of our students get involved."

Natasha Fernandes University College Birmingham Guild Equalities Officer

It’s not the first time the University has had student leaders involved in the national conversation on housing. Earlier this academic year Natasha attended the APPG discussion on the Renter’s Reform Bill before it progressed to the House of Commons.

The Guild’s Education Officer, Dominika Wilczynska, also recently met with Matt Western MP, Shadow Minister for HE, to discuss potential manifesto commitments for the Labour Party in advance of the upcoming general election.  

The full report on the recent APPG for Students can be read here.

Both Dominika and Natasha also recently attended the APPG chaired by Lord Willets, former Education Secretary for David Cameron, to discuss tertiary skills. They’d been asked to talk about how the ‘three pillars’ of Further Education, Higher Education and Apprenticeships can better complement each other. They highlighted the need for coherence in regulation across these, particularly in access, and on quality and standards. They spoke about the benefits of specialist providers, such as University College Birmingham delivering all three of these types of education provision, and opportunities for coherence in student support these could create.  

Find out more about the Guild for Students.

Back to top