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Welsh Government announce £40m funding to support university students

 

The Welsh Government have said they will be providing £40m to help university students who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding includes £10 million pound for student hardship, mental health and student union funding.

It follows pleas for the government to do more from thousands of students studying in Wales as most are still paying for accommodation they can’t currently live in due to coronavirus restrictions.

All university face to face learning has been postponed until at least mid-February and students have been advised not to travel to their term time accommodation until their university tells them to do so.

In a statement obtained by Bro Radio, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “As autonomous bodies, rental agreements are a matter for individual institutions or landlords. The higher education sector waived some or all accommodation costs for students in the last academic year, which we welcomed.

“We are providing an extra £40m this financial year, including £10m for student hardship, mental health provision and student union funding.

“In Wales we provide the most generous student support package in the UK. We are the only country in the whole of Europe that provides equivalent up front living costs grants and loans for full and part-time undergraduates, and for post-graduates. This already covers campus-based and distance learners and will continue throughout the academic year.”

But 19-year-old Jessica Edwards, who studies at Cardiff University, said more needs to be done. 

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The Psychology student said: “We should be given rent reductions because lots of us, including myself, have lost jobs during the pandemic and aren’t lucky enough to have parents who can financially support us.

“I can’t stay at my accommodation even if my university tell me it’s ok because I’m in the high-risk category so it’s safer for me at home than to share a flat with 6 other people.

Petitions have been set up online for landlords to reduce rental fees for students – one of which has received almost 500 signatures in just two days.

CRM, a private student accommodation company, has said they cannot reduce rental fees or give refunds as there has been no government guidance for them to assist financially.

A spokesperson said: “CRM are acting on behalf of the landlords to collect the rent due, and (at time of writing) there has been no support or guidance provided by the government to assist financially with payments that are owed on the building. This has meant they (landlords) cannot reduce or cancel any payments as this will force them to breach convenance with the bank.  

“As universities continue to offer teaching, in some cases in person, others online, we too have to remain open and safe through this time for our students who have chosen to stay or return to our accommodation.

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