NUS (National Union of Students) is calling for a student hardship fund and the option for students to retake or be reimbursed for the academic year, after new research showed that 81 per cent of students are worried about their future job prospects, while 95 per cent of students are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on the economy.
In NUS’ Coronavirus and Students Survey April 2020, which involved nearly 10,000 students across all age ranges, learning experiences and nations and regions of the UK:
• 33 per cent of students are at critical risk of being unable to access their education;
• 74 per cent are worried about the risk to their final qualifications;
• Up to 85 per cent of working students may need additional financial support as incomes drop;
• 95 per cent of students expressed fears about the impact of the virus on the wider economy;
• 81 per cent expressed concerns about their job prospect; and
• 71 per cent worried about the impact the pandemic will have on their employability.
Read the full Survey report here.
Reflecting the concerns of students, NUS has today (Wednesday 22 April) launched its national Student Safety Net campaign, urging the UK government to provide comprehensive, urgent support for students to include:
• A student safety net
A UK Government £60 million national hardship fund, accessible to all students who are currently in further and higher education. The Scottish government has led the way on this, NUS Scotland is calling for this support to be available to all students, including international students.
An economic package for those who complete their qualifications during the current pandemic, providing access to a grant which can be used for training, reskilling or development.
• Redo, reimburse, write off:
The option for every student, in every part of education, to redo this year at no further cost, with full maintenance support, while ensuring those returning to education next year receive high-quality education, training and support
Reimbursement of one year’s course, college or tuition fees for students who have paid upfront, or a write-off of one year’s debt for those who have paid through loans.
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.
“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.”