Universities in England to Receive £50m for Students as Financial Relief

United Kingdom Europe COVID-19 by Erudera News Feb 02, 2021

UK United Kingdom

The government will award an amount of £50m to Universities in England as a support for students who are facing financial problems due to COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes after rent strikes and protests of students who have paid for accommodation which they did not use as they had to transition to online learning after the lockdown was announced, Erudera reports.

The funding includes a £20m government package in December which is directed to students who are in need, in particular for students who cannot afford the additional costs for accommodation and access to online learning amid pandemic.

The news was welcomed by the education sector in general. Yet, according to vice-chancellors, university staff and students, it did not achieve much. The latter are calling for tuition fee refunds and expressing outrage on limiting the online university experience.

The President of the National Union of Students, Larissa Kennedy, said that many students have been struggling financially as a consequence of the pandemic as they are not affording rent and bills and are in need of accessing food banks.

“This will not be enough to tackle the scale of the issue,” she said.

Several universities, as well as accommodation providers, have already declared that they will not ask students’ to pay the rent if they cannot use their university halls.

In the meantime, the Universities UK, which is a representative organization for UK universities, said that the additional amount of £50m is a good step. At the same time, it urged for extra financial support dedicated to mental health and catch-up programs for students.

Following this, seven vice-chancellors have delivered an open letter demanding the government to offer students a 15-month interest waiver on their tuition fee repayment.

“The pandemic has placed unprecedented pressures on our students. In some of our universities, demands for hardship funds have increased by over 100 per cent. As a result of the pandemic, students also face extraordinary mental health challenges, and 18 per cent of students lack access to a computer, laptop or tablet. Additional government support is an urgent priority” the letter reads.

The letter was sent from representatives of the following universities:

  • University of Essex
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • University of Kent
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • University of East Anglia
  • President, University of Sussex
  • University of Reading

The universities minister Michelle Donelan said that the announced amount of £50m means that £70m are alone allocated for hardship in this financial year on top of £256m of government-funded student premium.

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