By Daniel Noon
The University of Surrey have announced that they are to cut student support funding next academic year in a document published by the Office for Fair Access.
In the Access Agreement 2017/18, it reports that “The University has decided to reduce the amount of money it spends on student support.” The exact reduction is unknown.
Inspection of the University’s financial statements also show that they have already reduced support funding by £1.4M in real terms between 2010-2015.
While the actual number of students attending the University has increased, leading to a reported 8% growth in the University’s total income, support funding did not rise with this increase.
Despite the cuts to support funding, this period also saw an increase in the number of students receiving support by 103 students: a 6% rise. This has resulted in less money being shared among more students.
The University of Surrey Students Union (USSU) is the body to represent students’ interests. In an interview about the upcoming cuts to student support, the current Union President, Alex Mackenzie Smith, said “It is the first I have heard of it.”
Smith claimed that the University wants “to increase student numbers therefore the spread of services, i.e. wellbeing, is going to be far more stretched than it currently is” and “We all are challenging this on a daily basis.”
The Access agreement also reports that “The Student union sabbatical officers played an important part in the evaluation and development of the existing bursary schemes”
Smith claimed that “this could have been something Jack was involved in last year.”
Smith also revealed that there is a meeting scheduled with the University on the 28th April to discuss access to student support. This is an ideal an opportunity for the Union to oppose any further cuts.
These cuts are happening in a context in which the UK Government has scrapped maintenance support grants. This has therefore placing an greater responsibility on Universities to provide support for students.
The Access Agreement 2017/18 reports that student support contributes to people deciding to come to surrey, to engage in extracurricular activities.
It also reports that student receiving support from the university worry less about debt and can afford to study without getting a part time job.
If you have a story about student support that you want to share, please do get in contact. This could be a cut to your scholarship or bursary, that your sibling will not get the same support as you did, that you are struggling financially, worrying about debt or without the University providing support, please do get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We can make sure, stories like yours are listened too.
If you want to get involved, please contact your USSU representatives. Your representatives have an upcoming consultation meeting in which they are able to challenge University about these cuts.