NUS MEMBERSHIP UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) 4 May 2020
Our number one priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of the students and apprentices we represent, so we have been working closely with institutions, trade unions, national sector bodies like Universities UK and the Association of Colleges, the Student Loans Company, and the government to inform our response to Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Here’s an update of what we are doing on your behalf to ensure your interests are represented as we tackle this pandemic:
- The Westminster government announced a bailout package for higher education today which we've responded to. As part of the announcement £2.6bn of tuition fee payments will be bought forward, as well as £100m of research funding. We’ve asked, and changing tuition fee payments won’t have any impact on the amount of interest a student who takes out the loan pays. A key part of the announcement was £48m of hardship funding for students, made up of money from other widening participation sources. It’s a concern that this isn’t new money, however it does mean the government is acknowledging that students need hardship funding, so we will continue to campaign for the Westminster government to ensure funding goes to all parts of the UK and is accessible for all students
- We met the OfS at our weekly call and discussed the government’s package of support for the HE sector and how both organisations have reacted, with a focus on the new registration condition they have introduced. We've also responded to today's OfS statement which warns of penalties for unfair conduct by institutions
- We met UCAS to discuss the support package, with a focus on the measures around stability and clearing and how this will affect the application cycle this year, as well as initial planning for next year’s cycle and the new service from UCAS looking at student accommodation
- We have secured a meeting with the Competition and Market Authority to discuss student tenancies and wider issues for students resulting from coronavirus
- NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe has commented on the UK Government’s support package for universities and students, saying: “Today’s announcement leaves many questions unanswered for Scotland’s students, and their institutions. As we move forward, students need to see both the UK and Scottish governments delivering a support package which provides financial stability and security at a time when both are lacking. We expect to see both governments engage meaningfully in the coming weeks to do just that.”
- Tomorrow, Tuesday (5 May) at 2pm is our next All Scotland Officers Weekly Covid-19 Meeting. If you’re a Scottish based students’ association officer, this is your opportunity to raise issues affecting your students and network with other officers nationwide. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for joining instructions.
- We've met Kirsty Williams, the Welsh Government’s Education Minister and discussed the UK Government’s package of support, our #StudentSafetyNet asks and the need for students’ unions to be supported through the process
- We held this week's Wales membership meeting, briefing sabbatical officers on the latest developments including the position on the #StudentSafetyNet campaign
- The Welsh Government has issued a policy position on Covid-19 and higher education in response to the UK Government’s announcement.
- Sign up for our first Skype meeting this Thursday at 4pm, updating you on the Covid-19 student housing situation, as well as campaign planning with Vice President Welfare, Eva Crossan Jory. With inequalities and issues within student housing been drastically highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, we will update you on the national picture for student renters, give you space to discuss your campaigns with each other, and talk about the next stage of our work on housing as part of the #StudentSafetyNet campaign