Eligible students are students who are privately renting and haven't yet received rent rebates from their accommodation provider.
On the 2 February, the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, addressed students and announced that £50 million of funding will be distributed between UK universities - suggesting this funding will be distributed to students most in need:
However, this move has been criticised for being an inefficient amount to make any real difference to university institutions, and their students. The higher education website, Wonkhe, slates the move, claiming this amount will have to cover those facing additional costs from the need to maintain two accommodations, an inability to maintain employment, international students and technological support for students to access remote teaching.
Students received a regular update from the Academic Registrar on 4 February, and it included a brief reference to the £50m hardship fund. Since then, a Newcastle University spokesperson has told The Courier:
"This funding is designed to help students in private accommodation who have not been able to return to university, particularly those in financial hardship."
"We will be writing to students this week with information on how they can apply to the Fund."
The press office also commented on how eligible students have been identified:
"Newcastle University used data on the number of students in private accommodation whom we knew hadn’t received rent rebates from their accommodation provider, in the categories the Government had identified as priority. We worked closely with the NUSU Sabbs to develop the criteria for the scheme."
Alongside the £50 hardship funding Michelle Donelan also promised students additional mental health support, gave reassurement that students would be able to graduate on time with high-quality teaching, and encouraged accommodation providers to offer rent refunds. She also reiterated:
“I know how difficult the past year has been and I want to thank you again for your resilience at this challenging time. I want to reassure you that your education, health and wellbeing remain at the top of my agenda.”
Newcastle students can expect to learn more about the process of claiming from the Covid-19 Living Cost Support Fund, later this week.