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University of Exeter, Streatham Campus

The University of Exeter invests over £3 million to support students during cost-of-living crisis

The University, in conjunction with staff and representatives from the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union, have worked together to explore ways in which the University can strengthen its support to students.

At the start of the academic year, the University allocated £1m to its Success for All Fund to help students who are in financial difficulty. The scheme provides hardship funds and a range of bursaries, including help with the cost of IT equipment.

This week, the University announced it is allocating a further £870,000 one-off Winter Support Bursary for eligible students. Additional provision is also being provided for self-funded PhD students.

Recently its efforts, alongside other universities, to seek a rise in the stipend for PhD students funded by the UKRI, resulted in a 13% rise for 2022/23. The University of Exeter committed a further £1.2m to match the same rate for those PhD students who are University funded.  In addition, funds have been made available for any self-funded PhD students to access where they are experiencing hardship.

Lee Elliot Major OBE, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter said: “The cost-of-living crisis is now a frontline issue for universities, with more and more students suffering real hardship. These are worrying times as it follows a pandemic that has already further entrenched educational inequalities in schools. It is paramount that universities do all they can to enable all students to flourish irrespective of their financial situation or family background.”

During this academic year, financial circumstances will be included as reason for mitigation for assessments and exams, allowing students to delay or postpone handing in an assessment or taking an exam in these exceptional circumstances. Students can also be referred for support if they are struggling. Payment dates for fees have also been amended to mitigate hardship related to timing of loan payments.

In a debate at Westminster Hall on Tuesday 18 October, the effect of the cost of living crisis on young people was discussed, and it was said that “young people across Britain, who have had to live through the pandemic, are now faced with a cost of living catastrophe” and that University students “who have also missed out on learning because of the pandemic and are currently facing huge financial problems, but who risk being a forgotten group of people suffering from the impact of the crisis.”

Nationally, the University of Exeter is supporting Universities UK and the Russell Group in lobbying the UK government over the 2.3% rise to maintenance grants, which is significantly lower than inflation.

Student wellbeing is the University’s top priority during the difficult circumstances many are facing and in addition to investing in financial support, The University has also partnered with the UK’s leading debt advice charity, Step Change, to provide students with free, impartial and personalised support for money worries, and has launched an ‘Ask Jan’ counselling and financial support service for all care experienced and estranged students. The Students’ Guild also runs an advice team to support fellow students.

Free and subsidised sports sessions are being introduced to support student wellbeing and the University has also increased funding to extend existing warm social and study spaces which will be open 24/7.

Other initiatives include a wide range of meal deals, extension of its free sanitary products scheme and an increased mileage subsidy for BMBS students on work placements with further work being progressed.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter said: “We know this is a worrying time for many of our students and their loved ones, but we are hoping this investment and the many initiatives we have put in place will go some way to reducing their anxiety about the cost of living.

 “We will continue to work together to support each other, and we encourage our students to reach out to the many support services available if they feel they need help.”

The University continues to work with student communities and campus partners across both Devon and Cornwall to identify more practical opportunities where it can lessen the impact of rising costs on students.  

More information for students regarding cost-of-living can be found here: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/students/costofliving/

Date: 25 October 2022

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