Chloe Ferguson, NUS-USI president has responded to Economy Minister Gordon Lyons announcement of an additional £2.8 million in support for higher education students studying in Northern Ireland.
While we welcome this additional funding and the certainty that it provides to higher education institutions as the year begin, consistently students report financial troubles as being the biggest barrier to completing their studies, and one of the main contributors to poor mental health. Hardship funds help to keep students in education.
“However, this funding is a drop in the ocean compared to the real support students need to get through the cost of living crisis. Student finance hasn’t risen with inflation for over a decade. How is a student today supposed to survive on the same amount when electricity and gas is sky rocketing, rents are going up and food bills are also increasing?
“Hardship funds provide vital emergency support to students who need it. But the funds are notoriously difficult to access, and often leaves students waiting several weeks for an amount which might only cover a single month’s rent. By allowing student incomes to stagnate year after year our government is letting students reach crisis point unnecessarily. We need real action to help students this winter – and we need a government back up and running.”