Newcastle awarded £9 per student from Government's £50m University Hardship Fund

Maud Webster on how the Government’s £50m hardship fund will impact Newcastle students

Maud Webster
15th February 2021
Newcastle University has been allocated £180,000 of the government's £50m hardship fund, for more than 20,000 eligible students, which equates to less than £9 per eligible student.

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:

“In December we announced an initial £20 million of additional hardship funding and I am now announcing an additional £50 million for this financial year taking funding available to £70 million which can be used by April. We will continue to monitor the situation going forward and look at what impact this funding is having. The funding will be distributed by the Office for Students to universities, who will ensure it reaches those in greatest need including international students and postgraduates.”

Michelle Donelan MP (Minister of State for Universities)

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 have more than 20,000 students who may be eligible and are acutely aware how difficult the situation is for them. The University has been allocated £180,000 and is working with NUSU to set up a Covid-19 Living Cost Support Fund."

Newcastle Press Office

"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.

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
she/they | third year architecture & urban planning student @ newcastle | co-head of culture for the 21/22 academic year

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