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CORONAVIRUS: Student union calls for hardship fund

The NUS has asked for a government package to be made available to support students.

Student union calls for hardship fund

81% expressed concerns about job prospects.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has called for the introduction of a hardship fund and an option for students to retake or be reimbursed for the academic year after research showed concern for their future job prospects.

The call comes after the results of the NUS Coronavirus and Students' Survey 2020, which involved almost 10,000 students across all regions, age ranges and learning experiences in the UK.

Covid-19 has left students fearful for their futures, with 95% indicating concern over the virus' impact on the wider economy, while 81% expressed concern about future job prospects.

85% of working students said they may require extra financial support as that income drops, but just 33% indicated they were at critical risk of being unable to access their education.

Almost three-quarters were worried about the risk to their final qualifications, while 71% were worried about the impact of the pandemic on their employability.

In response to the survey's findings, the NUS has called on the government to provide a £60 million national hardship fund and an economic package for those who complete their qualifications during the pandemic.

The union has also pressed for the option for every student to redo the year at no further cost, while receiving full maintenance support, or for a reimbursement for the academic year.

NUS National President, Zamzam Ibrahim, said the need for a safety net was 'urgent'.

"Coronavirus has hit thousands of students in the pocket and severely affected the quality of their learning," he said.

"The majority are paying extortionate fees for their education and are treated as consumers but are left out in the cold when the product cannot be delivered as described.

"Face-to-face teaching and assessments have had to be hurriedly moved online, and placement and other practical activity has had to be cancelled. 

"Students have lacked access to key resources, such as libraries and spaces, disabled students have been left unsupported, and students and staff have been struggling with other demands on their finances, welfare and wider lives as lockdown restrictions are enforced.

"Students are being forgotten during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are the future workforce that will have to help to rebuild our economy over the coming years."

The NUS is a confederation of over 600 student unions across the UK and works with more than 95% of all higher and further education students.

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