The University of Sheffield will be making an additional £3 million of funding available to students negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The support fund is available for students who are facing additional costs or a significant reduction in income because of the pandemic.
Through the fund, students can apply for help with costs incurred to rearrange pre-booked travel home, where they cannot get a refund because of the government’s student travel window, or for the cost of booking a private Covid-19 test where one is required to travel to their home country for the Christmas break.
Students can also apply for costs incurred to improve IT connectivity for studying remotely or if they have experienced financial hardship due to losing part-time work because of Covid restrictions.
Forge Press understands the University has been operating at a financial surplus after cutting services, Students’ Union funding and staff over the course of the pandemic.
The extension of this fund, launched last academic year, comes after substantial lobbying from the Students’ Union officer team.
Ellie Lynas, the SU’s education officer said to Forge Press: “Many of our students have experienced financial detriment as a result of Covid-19, but don’t have access to the same financial aid as the general public does.
“Not only have they faced additional costs, such as the air-travel approved Covid tests, but many have had a reduced income from lost part time work and less job opportunities.
“We respect that it has been a very difficult time financially for many organisations, the University and SU included. We have been pushing for extra monetary provisions to fund online learning for our students since we came into office and welcome the new support fund from the University.
“The University has a duty of care to its students to ensure money is not a factor in accessing their education.
Lynas is also pushing for further academic support from the University.
She added: “While the safety net policy may not be reinstated there is room for other supportive measures to be brought in. There needs to be clear official acknowledgement for the conditions our students have been working under and they deserve the reassurance such measures would bring.”
A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said to Forge Press: “We have also put plans in place to support students remaining in Sheffield over the winter break.
“This includes enhanced wellbeing support and a programme of online and in-person social activities in our residences, subject to government guidelines.
“Like all organisations, the University had to make cost savings and plan for how the Covid-19 pandemic was likely to affect our finances in order to ensure the organisation’s long-term sustainability.
“It is important the University continues to be prudent as the impact of the pandemic remains, however delivering an excellent education while doing all we can to support student wellbeing is our top priority.
“We are thankful to our University community for the ongoing support shown to each other during this difficult time and we will continue to work with our Students’ Union to do all we can to support our students.”
Image: George Tuli