Students in England are to benefit from increased hardship funding and a freezing of tuition fees over the next two years.
The Department of Education (DfE) has announced £15 million in hardship funding for English students, alongside the freezing of tuition fees for the next two years. The announcement has been cited as part of wider measures to aid the cost of living crisis.
Universities are detailed in the press release to be responsible for ensuring the financial support is targeted to the students most in need of help, with no specific qualifications outlined. As a result of the cost of living crisis, increasing numbers of students are seeking aid; the University of Reading saw 156 financial hardship applications in 2018-19’s academic year, and in 2022, 484 applications were received. Close to 40% of applicants were unsuccessful.
Diverse “Innovative schemes” from universities across the country appear in the Government’s announcement, including the University of York’s plan to contribute £150 to Student Households struggling to pay bills.
The University of Glasgow announced at the beginning of this academic year that individual sums issued through discretionary fund payments were to be reduced, following the end of a Scottish Government scheme to support students experiencing financial difficulties.
The Russell Group, representing 24 UK Universities, with Glasgow amongst them, branded the announcement of the £15 million financial package “disappointing”, avoiding a “meaningful” increase to maintenance support. Robert Halfon, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, announcing the measures alongside the Department of Education, strongly recommends “anyone who is worried about their circumstances to speak to their university.”
The National Union of Students (NUS) stated on the hardship funding: “The government has finally recognised that the cost-of-living crisis is leaving our student communities on the brink, and that existing support has failed to reach them. That we have got here at all is down to the hard work and relentless campaigning of the student movement over the past six months.”