Following Universities Minister Michelle Donelan's announcement on the 2nd February that a £50m hardship fund would be established for students, Newcastle University has released plans for their allocated £180,000. The fund is designed to support students who are unable to access their term-time accommodation, and have not been offered a rent rebate.
In an email sent to students by the Academic Registrar on the 22nd February, Newcastle University explained:
The email signposts students to a blog post, which further explains the fund:
The blog post elaborates that students eligible for the fund must:
be studying at Newcastle University, including Newcastle University London
be able to evidence that you have a 2020/21 tenancy agreement for privately-owned or privately-managed accommodation
not be currently living in your term-time accommodation
not have received a rent refund from your landlord of privately-managed provider
be able to evidence that you were in financial hardship at the end of January 2021 i.e. you did not have sufficient funding available to cover essential costs such as food, medical costs and essential bills.
And the post further notes that:
The amount of funding was criticised for being an insubstantial amount, which won't make any real difference to university institutions and their students. The university is offering £200 non-repayable grants, which suggests only 900 students will receive funding, out of the 20,000 eligible students the University identified. Students question what the impact of this will be when the average student rent in Newcastle amounts to £359.1 per month.
One student currently living at home, but renting privately in Newcastle, commented:
"As a Newcastle University student currently privately renting accommodation, I feel the support offered to us has been average at best."
"Many of us have no idea when we can legally return to our term time addresses, and not only does this cause monetary issues for some - [if you] are not viable for the support fund however are still struggling with finances - it, in turn, results in a negative impact across the mental health of students."
Eligible students are encouraged to submit an application for funding here from 9am on the 22nd of February 2021, with applications closing at 5pm on Friday 5th March 2021. The money will then be allocated before the 31st of March.