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Virus poses financial threat to three quarters of students in Wales

Thursday 30-04-2020 - 09:00

Analysis of National Union of Students survey of almost 10,000 students reveals fears about the economy, job prospects and qualification outcomes.

  • 78% of students in Wales are worried about their finances and 91% are concerned about the long-term impact on the economy.
  • NUS is calling for a Student Safety Net, a government-funded package of support that would shield students against the economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • Most students are ineligible for existing government schemes, leaving them vulnerable to financial hardship.
  • Click here for the Wales results of the NUS Coronavirus and Students Survey, and here for the UK results.

 

More than three quarters of students in Wales are worried about money because of COVID-19, according to analysis of a National Union of Students (NUS) survey of almost 10,000 students across the UK.

NUS Wales, along with NUS in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, are calling for a UK-wide Student Safety Net to ensure every student who needs it has access to support during this crisis.

NUS’ Coronavirus and Students survey, conducted earlier this month, found that 78% of student in Wales are concerned about their ability to manage financially during the outbreak.

73% of students in Wales are concerned about their ability to pay rent because of the lockdown, and almost half said the income of someone they depend on financially has been impacted by COVID-19.

Almost half of working students in Wales have seen their income reduced in some way because of the virus: 16% have been furloughed, 11% have taken unpaid leave, 10% have had their hours reduced and 10% have been made redundant.

 

Student Safety Net

Based on the results of the survey, NUS is calling for a government-funded Student Safety Net across all four nations of the UK.

The funding must be made available by the UK Government, with consequential funding going to the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Most students are ineligible for existing government schemes including Universal Credit, leaving them at particular risk during this pandemic.

As part of a Student Safety Net, NUS is calling for: 

  • £60 million national hardship fund accessible to every student in the UK facing financial hardship because of COVID-19, including international students. The Scottish Government has already announced a £5 million student hardship fund.
  • government grant allowing all students leaving education this year to benefit from additional training to allow them to adapt to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • The opportunity for students to retake this year of their qualifications, at no additional cost, while receiving full maintenance support. For fee-paying students who do not wish to take this up, the government must commit to writing off debt accrued, or reimbursing fees already paid for this year.

 

NUS Vice President Union Development, Erica Ramos, said: 

“Our survey demonstrates that a significant number of students in Wales are already struggling to cope with the impacts of COVID-19.

“This unprecedented crisis is putting strain on everyone, but we are concerned that students are at risk of falling through the cracks because most can’t access existing government schemes.

"We need a comprehensive Student Safety Net available to any student who is facing financial hardship in the UK.

“Governments must send a message to students that they haven’t been forgotten during this pandemic, while also protecting our institutions from the economic shock caused by lockdown. Only a government-funded package of support will be able to achieve this.”

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NUS Wales

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