Words by Aiala Suso
On 2 February, the UK government announced an additional funding of £50 million for universities to help students facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. This adds to the £20m announced in December.
This new budget will be distributed directly from the Office for Students (OfS) to universities, which will then give out to the students most in need, including international students. The government has explained that it will allow universities to support “students impacted by the pandemic, for example those facing additional costs for alternative accommodation, loss of employment, or extra costs to access their teaching online”.
According to OfS, this budget is aimed to help students as soon as possible with their immediate needs so that it can be allocated before the end of the current financial year, on 31 March 2021. “£40 million will be prioritised for rent-related hardship, while £10 million is used to boost the £20 million hardship fund previously announced in December 2020”, OfS explained.
However, Chief executive of Independent Higher Education, Alex Proudfoot, highlighted that the funds will not get to all students in the UK: “It’s extremely rare for a university to extend any of its hardship funds to partner institutions, such as pathway colleges.”
A spokesperson for the University of Sussex said: “We don’t currently know how much of this will be accessible to Sussex students but we will share further information when available.”
According to the BBC, “a survey from the Office for National Statistics suggested that a growing proportion of university students were not happy with their academic experience – and nearly two in three had seen their mental health worsen.”
In January, the Welsh Government announced a further £40m budget for vulnerable students and Scotland did so with £30m. Northern Ireland started giving out financial aid to students due to COVID-19 in May 2020.
Picture Credit: PIRO 4D