University helps people hit by crisis
The University of Exeter has distributed £1 million in hardship and emergency funding to students most significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial support, which has been available since the first lockdown last spring, is helping those most in need to continue studying. It started as an emergency scheme and evolved into the current Success for All Fund at the beginning of the academic year in September. Funding is fast-tracked for those on the lowest household incomes, and includes emergency funding, ongoing support for students facing continued hardship and IT bursaries to buy computer equipment for students facing digital poverty. The money has been used to pay for accommodation, bills and groceries. Students have faced hardship because of loss of employment and the end of financial support from parents and carers, as well as additional costs in relation to coronavirus.
More than 1,000 payments have been made from the scheme, which is partly funded through the generosity of University of Exeter alumni and a gift from Santander Universities UK in addition to core university funds.
In a survey of recipients after the first lockdown, 82 per cent said the help was very important in helping them to continue their studies and 46 per cent believed receiving financial help had prevented them from becoming homeless.
Nicola Sinclair, head of widening participation and UK student recruitment, said: “The fund has offered a financial lifeline for students, and is helping to improve their material wellbeing and mental health and ability to study. It means those at risk of having to leave their studies are remaining at university. We are grateful for the support of alumni, their contributions are making a big difference to people’s lives.”
One student said: “I am so thankful to the university, they saved me. They saved me from being homeless and starving. The generosity of those involved in getting the fund was amazing. I am so proud to be a part of this university who really came together to help students like myself.”
Another said: “It really was a life saver for me. I was really worried about how I was going to manage after losing my jobs. This funding allowed me to be able to not worry so much as things got sorted during a very unsure and scary time.”
Janice Kay, provost, said “We are a University that is striving to be the most inclusive and diverse institution it can possibly be, and this initiative has been vital in helping us support members of our community who have been disproportionality affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. We are very grateful to our Alumni donors, alongside Santander Universities UK, whose generosity has made the Success for All Fund possible.”
Professor Tim Quine, deputy vice-chancellor (education), said: “Since the escalation of the pandemic in March 2020 we have been acutely aware of the many impacts on our students and have focused on mitigating those impacts wherever possible. We know that for some, individual circumstances have made the pandemic been especially challenge and that, therefore, individual support is needed to enable them to continue their engagement with education, to succeed and to achieve their goals upon graduation. The Success for All fund has been established to provide that individual support and is therefore critical in enabling us to do the right thing by our students, and we are extremely grateful for the support of all donors who have made it possible.”
Sunday Blake, University of Exeter Student Guild President said: "We're really proud of how the university have supported students financially during this pandemic. It's been a lifeline for many students and this is shown by how many students have said it helped them from becoming homeless. Thank you to everyone who contributed, and to the University, it's amazing to be part of such a great community!"