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Students: Finance

Department for Education written question – answered on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Conservative, Tatton

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to provide fiscal support to students in financial difficulty as a result of 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. Higher Education (HE) providers take their responsibilities seriously and are best placed to identify the needs of their student body as well as how to develop the services needed to support it.

Many providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

We have worked closely with the Office for Students to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April, May, June and July, 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. We have also asked that HE providers pay particular attention to the additional financial hardships that are being faced by student staff who have been reliant on income from campus-based jobs at this time.

Departmental officials are working hard with the sector to continue to monitor the situation.

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