Universities will get £50m of support in England - but student loan interest won’t be scrapped

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 3:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 3:14 pm
Universities will get £50m of support in England - but student loan interest won’t be scrapped (Photo: Shutterstock)

English universities will receive an extra £50 million from the Government in order to help support students who are financially struggling due to the pandemic.

The announcement of increased funding comes as students all over the country have taken part in rent strikes and other forms of protest

Many students are frustrated that they have forked out for accomodation they were unable to use, and paid full tuition fees despite facing significant disruption to their learning.

What will the money be used for?

The £50 million follows a £20 million funding package which was announced by the Government in December. All of the money is intended to go to students who have struggled to meet costs such as alternative accommodation, or accessing remote learning.

While the money has been welcomed by those in the higher education sector, some believe the funding is not enough. Many students and staff are calling for further measures, such as refunds.

‘A sticking plaster’

General secretary of the University and College Union, Dr Jo Grady, said: “Small-scale funding packages like this are simply a sticking plaster and not the answer to the widespread problems facing the sector.”

Universities UK, which represents the sector, welcomed the money but said more is needed to help with catch up learning and mental health support.

Chief executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, said: "As the serious mental health impact of the pandemic continues to be felt, universities need further funding to alleviate the substantial increases in demand that university wellbeing and support services are experiencing."

A call to temporarily scrap student loan interest

The vice chancellors of seven universities have called on the Government to scrap interest on students loans for 15 months, to make up for the period of learning which has been disrupted by the pandemic.

However, the Government has said that wiping off interest payments would not put money in the pockets of vulnerable students now, and that “at least half of students don’t pay back their student loan”.

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, said: “The additional £50m that we are announcing today will mean we have distributed £70m for hardship in this financial year alone – on top of the £256m of government-funded student premium which universities can use for student support this academic year.”