COVID-19 is affecting all parts of society, but one area that appears to be neglected is university students. There is a huge financial problem about to hit the entire student population and families.

My daughter is one of those students. Her university education is being hit and we are about to be hit hard financially.

My daughter is :

  • facing over £2500 accommodation costs (to a private landlord) she won’t be using due to COVID-19 closing universities
  • will receive her maintenance loan with huge interest which she doesn’t now need
  • will have term 3 tuition loan paid to the university despite severely reduced service

This means she will be exposed to around £6000 in loans and it’s associated interest for the best part of her working life and, as a family, we are exposed to over £2500 accommodation bill. In these times of crisis we urgently need the government to step in.

The universities are doing their best and have been very clear in their communications, putting the government’s communications to shame, but it doesn’t address the underlying structural problems since the commercialisation of higher education. Of course university education should be free, and that is a fight we will continue as The Labour Party.

University students have mostly moved home and the immediate worries have been dealt with, now families will face the structural problems and the huge financial problems about to hit our students.

  • students must be financially supported with a package of pauses and breaks
  • universities must be supported as they too are exposed
  • students are facing huge accommodation bills for rooms they will not be using. Both university owned and private with private having the lions share. Payment holidays need implementing. Needs addressing urgently.
  • exposure to next year’s rent should this crisis continue into summer
  • maintenance loans that are not needed but still paid along with huge interest. The government should convert them immediately to a grant during the crisis.
  • tuition fees for a term were universities offer a reduced program through necessity need reimbursing and converting to a government grant during the crisis
  • universities financially supported in their reduced program of distance learning
  • huge interest on student loans accruing despite reduction in delivery till autumn at the earliest which need halting immediately.

We are living through unprecedented times with a calamitous government which has predictably been unable to show any form of leadership or planning.

The government needs to urgently address this perfect storm hitting students and universities.

Neale Hall – Newbury Labour Party member


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