In an email seen by The Glasgow Guardian, students have been informed they will receive less money from the University’s Discretionary Fund.
The Glasgow Guardian has seen an email informing students who received support from the University of Glasgow’s Discretionary Fund during the session 2021/22 have been informed that it is likely they will receive less financial support should they reapply for funding in the coming academic year.
The Discretionary Fund is designed to help support students struggling with living expenses. Students who apply must do so at the beginning of each semester, providing a recent bank statement and an explanation of their circumstances. Students are then assessed on a case-by-case basis and the amount awarded varies depending on personal circumstance.
However, as the email which was sent to students on the 18th of August explains: “In 2021/22, SAAS and the Scottish Government provided an additional £1.7m in financial support for students facing financial difficulties…The [Scottish Government] has informed us that they will not be maintaining their emergency funding and so it is likely you may receive a lower level of award in 2022/23, should you successfully reapply for support.”
The email made reference to the cost of living crisis, and acknowledged that the present economic environment is particularly demanding for students when compared to previous years: “We have seen an increase in applications to the Discretionary and Childcare Funds and expect this trend to continue in 22/23. Significant economic challenges such as fuel poverty and the cost-of-living crisis are affecting many of our students.”
However, the email also made assurances that “the University is setting aside additional funding for hardship” and is “committed to supporting as many students as possible”. It states that due to the funding change the Discretionary Fund is “likely to make a larger number of smaller awards over the coming year”.
Commenting to The Glasgow Guardian on the impact of the cost of living on students, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We understand this is a tough time for many students. We have distributed more than £37 million in Discretionary Funds to colleges and universities since June last year to support students facing financial hardship throughout the year, including over the summer months. These funds were available for institutions to use up to the end of July.
“The Minister wrote to Principals again at the beginning of June to re-emphasise the importance of supporting students experiencing financial hardship, particularly as they enter into the summer months”.
When asked about how they are going to ensure that all students are adequately supported in meeting their living expenses, a University spokesperson responded: “The University recognises the very real challenges facing students because of the current cost of living increases. Regardless of ring-fenced funding from the Scottish Government, we will be increasing hardship funding this year.
There is a host of advice and support being offered to students including: addressing digital poverty through the provision of laptop loans and MiFi devices; our commitment to support international, as well as domestic students in difficulties; the programme of financial planning workshops we are developing with the assistance of our alumni; the expansion in social spaces on campus to provide safe, warm spaces for students experiencing fuel poverty and, likewise, provision of kitchen facilities.”