Feature image credit: nus.org.uk
The National Union of Students (NUS) are calling for a student hardship fund and the option for students to retake or be refunded for the recent academic year.
This is due to the current coronavirus pandemic and recent research which shows some hardships students across the UK are facing.
NUS are calling for a £60 million hardship fund for students struggling financially and also an economic package for students who complete their degree during the coronavirus crisis, which will provide access to a grant to help provide training, reskilling, and development.
They are also calling for students to be allowed to repeat the academic year at no further cost, or refunding students who paid upfront, or wiping one year’s debt to those who paid through loans.
The NUS survey which was carried out around the UK involved around 10,000 students. The study shows hardships the COVID-19 pandemic is causing on students’ life.
Some of the key findings from the survey are: 85% of working students might need some additional financial support as their income drops, while 33% of students fear they will not be able to access their education and, 74% of students are worried about their final qualification.
Nearly, 81% of students have shown concerns about their job prospect, and 71% are worried about what impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on their employability.
Also, nearly all the students surveyed (95%) have expressed concerns about the impact of the virus on the wider economy.
Speaking at NUS’ Student Safety Net campaign launch, Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS National President, said:
“We urgently need a student safety net for all students across the UK. Coronavirus has hit thousands of students in the pocket and severely affected the quality of their learning.
“The current crisis has shown that students occupy the worst of all possible worlds – with the majority paying extortionate fees for their education and are treated as consumers but are left out in the cold when the product cannot be delivered as described.
“On top of this, thousands of trainee ‘key workers,’ such as healthcare students, are currently racking up debt whilst having their education disrupted or volunteering to fight coronavirus on the frontline.
“Student maintenance support is inadequate, and the government has failed to address the various cost of living crises for students in everything from housing to transport to course costs.”
Ibrahim added: “Face-to-face teaching and assessments have had to be hurriedly moved online, and placement and other practical activity has had to be cancelled.
“Students have lacked access to key resources, such as libraries and spaces, disabled students have been left unsupported, and students and staff have been struggling with other demands on their finances, welfare and wider lives as lockdown restrictions are enforced.
“The impact of this disruption will not be felt equally, with those on placements and disabled students feeling the impact particularly severely.
“Students are being forgotten during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are the future workforce that will have to help to rebuild our economy over the coming years.
“Students must not be forgotten. A Student Safety Net will demonstrate that this government cares about the students of today and recognises the role of all students in our future.”
Stirling University Student’s Union Chloe Whyte said: “The statistics released by NUS UK as part of their Student Safety Net Campaign are grim, but paint a telling picture.
Students have continuously been the afterthought of this pandemic, despite the fact that the sector hit hardest by COVID-19 is Education. Our Students’ Union are firm supporters of the Student Safety Net, and more locally, of NUS Scotland’s #NotStayingNotPaying Campaign.
“For example, it is disappointing to see how many students are worried about paying rent – and with so many respondents to the Safety Net survey coming from Scotland, this is even more relevant to us.
“I would urge any student worried about their finances, grades or wellbeing due to COVID-19 to reach out to the Students’ Union via email, or message one of our Sabbatical Officers directly.”