£40 million extra to support students in Wales facing financial hardship
The Welsh Government will today announce an additional £40m for universities to support students facing financial hardship, helping the students most affected by the pandemic with expenses such as accommodation costs.
Universities will be asked to prioritise funding towards the most vulnerable students, as well as strengthening advice and support services for students.
With most students currently being asked to study at home, the funding will also be used to address ‘digital poverty’ among students, to enable better access to online learning, and costs incurred due to the need to self-isolate.
Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement, Professor Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales, said:
“This is a very welcome announcement from the Welsh Government, which is leading the way in understanding and responding to hardship needs and the challenges posed to higher education by the pandemic.
“The collaborative approach it has adopted with universities, students and staff has helped us to manage these very difficult circumstances to the best of our ability.
“Staff at universities across Wales have worked tirelessly to deliver a rewarding learning experience while also providing important pastoral and well-being support for students. This additional funding will further support this work and make a real difference to students across Wales.
“We hope this announcement today will provide confidence to our students that we and our government are determined that they should be supported to complete their studies, providing the best possible opportunities as we rebuild our nation.”
The funding is in addition to over £40 million the Welsh Government has provided to help universities this financial year, which has included £10m towards student hardship, mental health support and student unions.
The funding will come from the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Reserve, to support the national response to the pandemic, and will be distributed to universities by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).
Kirsty Williams, the Education Minister, said: “This year, due to reasons beyond their control, many thousands of students have not been able to return to campus yet. In some cases, this means some students might still be paying for their accommodation while they are unable to use it. We recognise how difficult this is, which is why we are announcing this additional funding.
“Our universities have worked tremendously hard to support their students, ensuring learning has continued, while putting measures in place to protect their students, staff and their local communities. This funding will allow them to build on that good work.”
Rebecca Evans, the Finance Minister and Trefnydd, said: “In such difficult times, it is vital we continue to support people currently in education, who will be instrumental as we rebuild our economy in the wake of the pandemic.
“This funding will also help tackle inequality, by ensuring the most vulnerable students and those most affected by the pandemic can complete their studies.
“If you are a student here in Wales, your university or students’ union will be able to provide you with further information about the support available.”