Glasgow University Sports Association have recently launched a new initiative which is intended to support those who face financial hardship.
Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) has launched an exciting initiative, the GUSA Hardship Fund, in order to alleviate the difficulties which financially impoverished students face when seeking to participate in sport. The Hardship scheme is intended to assist financially impoverished students who face barriers to accessing the gym or one of GUSA’s many sports clubs. Shereif Kholeif, GUSA’s current president, explained the motivation behind the Hardship Fund: "I was finance convenor in 2017, and since then we have had at least one or two people a year, sometimes more, asking if there is a Hardship Fund or a way I can access the gym. So it has been talked about now and then, but when I got in this year then I decided it was something I wanted to carry through."
GUSA intends to heavily advertise the scheme around September time when students are heading back to University, however, the scheme has already launched for those in need. In order to apply, students need to head to the University website and fill in a form describing their circumstances. The criteria has been left deliberately broad to support students facing genuine hardship, for example if they are low on money having had to pay for car repairs.
Once an application form has been submitted then the application will be assessed by GUSA’s finance governor and GUSA’s President, in circumstances where the case is borderline the application will be referred to the newly created GUSA Hardship Committee for further consideration. Students can apply to one or both funding options (full gym membership paid and/or 100% of a GUSA sports club membership paid). If a student is successful in their application, GUSA will pay the fees of the individual student through GUSA’s system, meaning the student does not have to concern themselves with the cost.
The idea of a hardship fund has been an ambition of various GUSA candidates throughout the years, however the idea has never come to fruition. Kholeif was at the heart of organising the GUSA Fund and described the hard work which has gone on throughout the year to introduce the scheme: "I put in a proposal to the Student Experience Committee and said we should introduce the Hardship Fund so there is no barriers for students trying to access gym memberships. They were very receptive and willing to support...It was a big bit of work and has taken the majority of the year to get it set up."
Much work was done between the University and GUSA in order to come up with a scheme where the University will provide funding for 50 students and, if above 50 people match the criteria, then GUSA will provide further funding on a case by case basis. Kholeif further explained there is no indication of the numbers who are likely to apply: "We have no idea if we’ll get 100s of people applying or none, we will have an annual review with the University to see if the number needs to be increased."
Despite the uncertainty about numbers, there is little doubt that this scheme is a positive step given the challenging circumstances which students can face. It is especially positive as it will work alongside GUSA’s other schemes such as the Counselling and Psychological Referral Scheme, GUSA’s Buddy Scheme, and GUSA’s Peer Wellbeing Support Service. It goes without saying that many students suffer financially and that this might deter them from joining a gym or a sports club. GUSA's Hardship Fund should help alleviate these problems, especially since gym fee hikes have been an annual norm.
To apply for the scheme follow this link: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/registry/finance/funds/?fbclid=IwAR0duE3Brs8iMKJlm3LGwyLXCzQwBj_9450FUWfdIcdKqrCSPueF1Si8Nx8#glasgowuniversitysportsassociationhardshipfund
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