Trinity College cut bursaries for low-income students not returning to Cambridge by 50 per cent

Trinity is the wealthiest Cambridge college, with an endowment of over £1 billion

Trinity College has cut their bursaries for undergraduates who have not returned to Cambridge by 50 per cent for the entirety of Lent term, the college has confirmed in a statement to The Tab Cambridge.

Undergraduate students from “low and middle-income families” currently receive additional support from the college, in addition to the Cambridge Bursary, for students with a household income of below £42,620.

The college told The Tab this affects a “small proportion” of students and that they are continuing to provide “50 per cent of the full amount in recognition of the recipients’ need to cover daily living expenses, if not College rent, this term.”

All students eligible for the Cambridge Bursary and/or Pilot Top-up Bursary Schemes “will continue to receive the full amount for which they are eligible.”

They add that “any student facing hardship has been asked to contact their Tutor and each will be reviewed sympathetically.”

A spokesperson for the college told the Tab the decision was made because “as charity trustees, members of Trinity’s Council are required to act responsibly regarding resources.”

Trinity College is the wealthiest Cambridge college, with an endowment of over £1.34 billion in 2018, making it wealthier than all UK universities other than Manchester, Edinburgh, and Imperial College London.

However, Trinity’s website points out that their “overall net spendable income (£44m in 2015-16), is fully committed” and they spend over £4 million a year on “scholarships and awards” for students.

Meanwhile, other colleges have extended financial support for students who have been unable to return to Cambridge, with Trinity Hall extending their hardship fund to provide “pandemic-related expenses” such as Wi-Fi extenders to help students study from home.

Trinity College Students’ Union (TCSU) told The Tab they are “against any cuts to students’ bursaries, a position that we have made clear to Trinity College. This measure will undoubtedly impact some of the most disadvantaged students at an exceptionally difficult stage in their studies.

“Although we are pleased that students who remain in residence will not be affected by these cutbacks, we believe it is unjust to reduce the bursaries of those not in residence as it assumes that students do not incur costs when absent from College grounds.

“At a time of national uncertainty and universal financial precarity, this is a policy founded on unreasonable assumptions. We strongly urge Trinity College to reconsider their position, and urge all students affected by this change to contact the TCSU or their Tutor.”

This comes following Trinity College receiving criticism this week for an email dissuading students from returning to Cambridge unless they are in “imminent danger at home.” Whilst the government and university guidance allows for students to return for health or study-related reasons, such as mental health issues or bad internet, the college has urged all other students to “join our wonderful silent majority of students who are resiliently getting on with studies and life at home.”

One Trinity first year student told the Tab “I’m really disappointed to hear Trinity will be cutting bursaries.

“It is hard not to feel like college doesn’t care about us.”

Feature image credits: Rafa Esteve via Creative Commons License

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