Ben HaywardApril 27th
2020

NUS (National Union of Students) is calling for a £60 million student hardship fund and the option for students to retake or be reimbursed for the academic year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The move comes after an extensive survey revealed that over 80% of students are concerned that the Coronavirus outbreak will have a negative impact on their prospects of finding employment and 95% are worried about the effects on the wider economy.

The study was carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS) and OneVoice Digital to listen to and understand the student voice during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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The survey was taken by a sample of just under 10,000 students (9,872) who are currently in higher education, asking them a series of questions about how the Covid-19 pandemic was affecting them across different aspects of their lives.  

Reflecting the concerns uncovered in the research, NUS has launched its national Student Safety Net campaign, urging the UK government to provide comprehensive, urgent support for students.

Measures NUS want to be included in the package include a UK Government backed £60 million national hardship fund, accessible to all students who are currently in further and higher education, 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 and the option for every student, in every part of education, to redo this year at no further cost alongside the 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.

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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.

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“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.”

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