The Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, confirmed that most university students would be asked to stay away from campus until after the Easter vacation at the earliest, but said nothing about the problems they face. So I’ve coordinated a letter to the Chancellor from a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, urging him to set out plans for student support.
The letter follows last month’s report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Students, which I chair, calling on the Government to provide substantial hardship funds for students facing lost income and rents for unused accommodation – and to “provide universities with additional funding, to allow them to deliver the learning and development experiences crucial to students’ education.”
Today’s cautious roadmap for unlocking is right, but it failed to provide the support that students need for the problems they’ve faced during the pandemic which will now be extended for the majority who are still not allowed back to campus. They need additional hardship funding and support for universities to fill in the gaps in their educational experiences. The Prime Minister missed the opportunity to provide answers for students in England and so I’ll be pressing the Chancellor to respond.
The £36 a head provided in England so far does not make up for lost income from part-time jobs in sectors that remain closed, the thousands of pounds spent on accommodation which cannot be used, or missed access to specialist facilities and other educational experience. The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have gone much further; the Chancellor should follow their lead and provide all students with the support they deserve now and future-proof the sector as we come out of lockdown.
You can read the full letter below: