An update on the things that the Students' Union have been lobbying the University for to help students get through the cost-of-living crisis.
We want to provide you with an update on the things that we have been lobbying the University for to help students get through the cost-of-living crisis. As you can see from this page, many Russell Group universities have thus far dedicated significant funding towards cost of living support for students. We appreciate the support announced by the University in October, but we believe that the packages implemented by other universities show that it can and should go further in aiding students during this time.
We are asking the University for a one-time payment to students to help with the cost-of-living crisis, aiming for a £200 blanket payment for all students. Similar schemes have been rolled out by the University of Manchester, the University of York and Queens University Belfast.
Many Universities have made significant increases in their contribution to their hardship funds. Cambridge, Nottingham and Edinburgh have increased funding by 50%, Glasgow, LSE, Exeter, and Imperial by over 100%, Liverpool by 3 times and Leeds by 5 times their previous levels. We would like to see increases in the size of the hardship fund, as well as reforming the system to make it more accessible and less intrusive for students.
We also want the University to create a new emergency hardship fund which can offer small amounts of money to students with less means-testing. e.g up to £50, like the scheme offered at Durham University. We also want to ensure that hardship funding, and any increases to it, includes sufficient ringfenced funding for international students, like at Queens University Belfast where £600k has been dedicated to a fund for international students only, as part of a wider £5.7m investment project.
We recognise that food poverty is an issue many students are facing right now. We know that it is possible for Universities to direct funding towards alleviating this issue: Kings’ College London are spending £750k to subsidise food and drink for students.
We want the University to review the prices within Rootes Grocery Store considering the cost-of-living crisis, with a focus on meal deals and the provision of kosher and halal foods which are often very expensive. With regards to meal deals, we seek either a blanket reduction in their prices, or the implementation of a tiered system with a cheaper meal deal and a more expensive one which will include hot foods.
We also want the University to implement a digital food voucher system for outlets on campus. This could be guaranteed by the University, so that students are able to use it at Rootes, Pret, Café Nero, Dirty Duck, etc. with the University reimbursing the outlets once students present a code. These could be dispersed by the SU to those who need it.
We are aiming to get the University to make parking more accessible - particularly after the passing of a motion in support of this at the first All Student Vote of the year - and to subsidise buses more ahead of Term 2 when many students will be purchasing their termly passes.
We believe the University need to review the Graduate Teaching Assistant Teaching Framework to ensure it properly accounts for the hours that these students spend preparing their classes, teaching them, and marking work. We want the University to meet the commitments requested by PGR students in this open letter, including a fee waiver, universal sick leave and funded extensions. We also want the University to provide PGR students with more support with travel and research costs.
We are asking the University to switch its payment regimes for the Sports Hub from a one-time up-front payment into a monthly subscription in order to improve accessibility.
Health & Wellbeing
We want to expand access to period products - to be stored in the SU - and we are currently exploring funding options to support this. We're also pushing for the provision of packages of reusable menstrual products as a long-term solution to help those hit hardest by the cost-of-living crisis. We also want the University to provide further support for disabled international students, given their illegibility for Disabled Students' Allowance.
We are currently exploring the extent of digital poverty amongst the student body to see if there are any specific requests that we can make to the University that would be helpful in alleviating this issue.