Hardship fund offered to English students ‘insulting’ compared to Wales says MP
England’s students will only get £43.70 per head from a hardship fund, compared with £378 per head in Wales, a comparison described as “insulting” by an MP.
Paul Blomfield, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Students, told ministers he has “serious concerns” about levels of hardship funding on offer to students in England.
Since December 2020, the UK Government has announced £85 million in support for the 1.95 million students at English universities and higher education institutions.
Meanwhile, the Welsh government has announced a total of £50 million hardship funding for its 132,000 students.
Scotland has pledged £20 million for its 250,000 students, £79 per head, alongside £10 million for universities to cover rent rebates.
In a letter seen by PoliticsHome, Paul Blomfield branded the offering “frankly insulting”, as it represented “between a half and a tenth” of the funding available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Writing to universities minister Michelle Donelan, he said: “I had hoped that your further reflection on the issues raised in our APPG for Students report would lead to significant improvements on student hardship.
“But your announcement of £15 million additional hardship funds, or £7.70 per student in England, is frankly insulting, while students in the devolved nations continue to receive far more generous support through this difficult time.”
Blomfield added that students have faced “substantial financial pressure through the pandemic” as many have suffered “a loss of income from retail and hospitality jobs”.
“It is therefore unacceptable that the government is supporting students at English Higher Education Institutions with between a half and a tenth of the support given in any of the Devolved Administrations to students studying in those areas,” he continued.
“This generation, with those in schools, will be affected over their lives by the pandemic more than any other, and will be paying for the national debt longer than anyone else.
“We must equip them with the resources they need now to overcome the challenges of Covid-19 and succeed in the future.”