Students: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 18th May 2020.

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Photo of Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood Social Democratic and Labour Party, Foyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with (a) the Northern Ireland Executive and (b) other devolved institutions in Northern Ireland on creating a co-ordinated policy to provide assistance to students financially affected by continuing obligations to pay rent on student accommodation during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

As my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Housing and student maintenance loans are devolved matters, as is higher education. However, the department has been working closely with colleagues in Northern Ireland to discuss a range of higher education areas affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

English-domiciled students anywhere in the UK are continuing to receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the remainder of the current, 2019/20, academic year. Many higher education providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies.

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable providers in England to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April and May, towards student hardship funds.

Students with a part-time employment contract should speak to their employer about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19), which has been set up to help pay staff wages and keep people in employment.

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