CUSU Slam Gov’s National Scholarships

CUSU have criticised the government for not allocating enough cash to its National Scholarship programme, which aims to help poorer kids go to uni.

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The government’s National Scholarship Programme has been slammed by CUSU for failing to put its money where its mouth is.

The ‘flagship’ initiative aims to widen university access by providing funding for students from the poorest backgrounds, and the coalition hopes the scheme will offset any negative effects of the recent hike in tuition fees.

But, the government have given the programme just £50 million for the entire higher education sector. This means that Cambridge will only receive £400 000 – enough to fund a one year fee waiver for just 130 students.

CUSU and other university groups have criticised the government’s decision, claiming the fund is not enough to make education affordable for poorer students.

The announcement came just days before David Cameron criticised Oxford for not widening access enough.

CUSU’s Access Officer, Andy McGowan, said: “the National Scholarship Programme has been a complete mess (from inception).” He said the government failed to understand: “how much money must be allocated to even begin to offset the damage done by higher tuition fees,” and said it was a clear example of the Government only paying: “lip service to widening participation.”

Aside from funding issues, McGowan said that the lack of consistency and clarity in the government’s plans would lead to poor communication with the university and student, in particular: “students from the poorest backgrounds.

“There is no clear guidance about who will receive the awards, and even if students meet all the criteria they will not be guaranteed a scholarship.”

The scheme is the government’s flagship access initiative, but CUSU warned that the measure is not enough, and is simply part of a wider governmental programme which “gives with one hand (and) takes with the other.”