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News Almost £1 million awarded to Staffordshire University students financially impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

More than £900k is being awarded to students after a new fund was set up to help people financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

This additional funding from government comes at a critical time for our students. The funding allocation acknowledges that all students including international, full and part time, undergraduate and postgraduate, across all courses, may be impacted by the pandemic.

Nuala Devlin, Executive Dean of Students

The University’s COVID-19 Response Fund awarded more than 2,000 grants to students during the first round of funding to help them through these difficult times.

The funding pot is made up of cash from the government’s funding package to address student hardship, distributed via the Office for Students, in addition to other funding from the University, including £40,000 from the University’s Horizon Fund.

Students were invited to apply for grants to support their learning through lockdown. As well as helping to pay for any additional technology and furniture, the fund also invited applications from students who may be struggling with the basics of food and rent.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes CBE DL said: “As a civic university connected to the needs of our region, we are doing what we can to support our students and their families through these challenging times.

“We are aware of just how difficult it is for some students to feel motivated to carry on, especially when many have competing priorities like household income and home-schooling their children.

“Digital poverty remains a problem and has been exacerbated by the pandemic. We are also aware that due to COVID-19 large numbers of young people are now in the jobs market. One in three young people under twenty-five are employed in the three sectors most affected by COVID-19 – travel, hospitality and retail.

“That is why we are very keen to get the financial support out to all those who need it and where it can make a practical difference to students during these difficult months. It could help buy them a desk to work from or just tide them over if they have lost part time work through the pandemic.”

Recently the University announced details of its rent reduction scheme for students who are unable to access its halls of residence during lockdown. The University has also joined with the Students’ Union to call on local landlords to support those students living off-campus in the community.

Staffordshire University is working to addressing digital poverty – where students don’t have access to a laptop or are having to share devices with other family members – and are making loan laptops available to students who are currently having to access the majority of their learning online.

Executive Dean of Students Nuala Devlin added: “This additional funding from government comes at a critical time for our students. The funding allocation acknowledges that all students including international, full and part time, undergraduate and postgraduate, across all courses, may be impacted by the pandemic.

“Its primary purpose is to support students who are facing hardship and who need a helping hand in order for them to continue their studies. For that reason, we made the application process as easy as possible.

“The response to the fund has been overwhelming and gives a sense of how much students have been financially impacted by the pandemic.”

The COVID-19 Response Fund reopened to new applications on 15 February. In addition to this fund, the University also operates the Student (Success) Support Fund which invites applications to cover hardship.

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