By Chloé Meley
On Thursday, Surrey students got an email from the Union President, informing them of what is being done to support and represent them as the University, the country and the world grapple with the coronavirus crisis. In that email, from which Incite picked out the most important information, it was announced that the Union was actively working with the University towards widening access to the hardship fund, in order to provide financial relief to students who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
To apply, students need to have accessed full entitlement to student loans, the NHS Bursary and an interest free student overdraft. They are also required to submit evidence of their current financial situation. In normal circumstances, students would need to complete the Blackbullion Core Budgeting Module, a program offered by Blackbullion.com, a platform providing digital financial education to students..Students applying due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak will not need to complete that course, even though the University says it is “beneficial”.
Applications can be made via Surrey Self-Service, and should take 15 working days to process. However, applications submitted during the Easter Break (9-17 April) will be processed from Monday 20th of April. The University also does not rule out a delay in processing, in case the volume of applications is unprecedented.
The email sent last Thursday also mentioned that the Union’s VP Voice had held a Postgraduate Voice Forum to discuss, among other things, access to the hardship fund for postgraduate researchers, who rely financially on assisting with teaching and have therefore lost their main source of income. Today’s Daily Bulletin does not specify whether or not postgraduate researchers have been offered access to the fund.
As for students on placement, they are also encouraged to apply. They need to be paying the full professional training year fees and have accessed a reduced rate maintenance loan. They will also be required to provide a copy of their placement contract, clarifying whether the placement is paid or not.