The government’s new £2.7bn ‘uni bailout’ doesn’t include any extra money for students

Good news though, you’ll still get to pay full tuition fees for online lectures

The government announced a new and long-awaited £2.7bn financial aid package for universities today – but the catch is that there’s no extra money for students.

After complaining about being continually overlooked by the government during the crisis, students now face being made to pay full tuition fees for online teaching.

£2.6bn of money from tuition fees is being brought forward to help universities, as well as £100m of research funding, amid warnings that unis could go bust if coronavirus keeps international students away.

However, the “financial support for students” measures announced amount to telling unis they can use their own, existing, money to top up student hardship funds.

“This package does not deliver the protection or stability that students, staff and the communities they serve so desperately need,” Jo Grady, general secretary of the UCU, said.

“We have also worked with the OfS to enable providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19,” the government said in the “supporting students” section of its press release.

“As a result, providers will be able to use the funding, totalling £46m across April and May, towards student hardship funds and mental health support, as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.”

Students will still be paying £9,250 a year, even if courses are online, said the universities minister. “We’ve always said that we don’t believe students would be entitled to reimbursement for tuition fees if the quality is there,” said Michelle Donelan.

With concern over universities aggressively recruiting students to plug the financial black hole left by international students staying at home, the government announced a new clearing system to stop universities poaching students. Universities will also only be able to recruit five per cent more students than planned, and are eligible to apply for business loan support schemes.

A fifth of uni applicants are reconsidering their plans for next year, according to new research by social mobility charity the Sutton Trust. Working-class pupils are the most concerned about missing out on top universities due to the crisis, the research adds.

James Turner, CEO of the the Sutton Trust, said: “It is right that the government looks to protect students’ interests at this difficult time. As always, it will be crucial to monitor the implications of the numbers cap on access, especially to the most selective universities.

“Especially welcome are the moves to prevent poor admissions practices, which may lead young people to make poor choices for their future. This is particularly important at a time of uncertainty when schools are out, and the poorest students are less likely to have access to support from teachers and advisors.

“We also welcome the enhanced clearing process so that young people can make their final choices based on real grades and what is the best match for their talents and aspirations.”

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When is the government going to start caring about uni students?