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University hardship funds for students doubled last year

Total hardship funds distributed by universities have doubled over the last year, from £61 million to £121 million, according to the BBC.

The rising number of applicants was a key reason for the increased spending, with 55,000 more students applying in the 2020/2021 academic year than in 2019/2020.

The average sum sent to individual students increased in this time period by around £15.

The main reason for this rise in hardship fund applications was the Covid-19 pandemic.  Due to lockdown restrictions, many students who were planning to supplement their studies with part-time jobs were not able to.

In addition, the number of university students per year is rising – in 2020, there were 300,000 more students in UK universities than in 2019.

The rise in the national student population has had a large effect on hardship funding according to the National Union of Students’ Vice-President for Higher Education, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, who said: “With soaring cost of living, rising student rent, and increasingly insecure employment, it’s clear that demand is far outstripping supply when it comes to student hardship funding.”

Hardship funding is a form of additional funding that students can apply for if they’re having financial difficulties. It often does not need to be repaid.

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