University of Cambridge announces response to cost of living crisis

The University and the SU set to make rising living costs priority in coming winter

The student body received an email from Professor Kamal Munir, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for University Community and Engagement on 25th October. It detailed the university’s response to the challenges many students and staff face as a result of the current national cost of living crisis.

Key outcomes include a 50% increase to the University’s Student Hardship Fund. This fund can be accessed if you are facing exceptional or unexpected financial hardship through communication with your tutor.

The next steps of applying for the Hardship fund will either involve advice on how to apply to access the Student Hardship Fund, or in-college financial aid, depending on individual circumstances.

Students were also pointed to the student support website, offering further details on how to take action against financial struggles.

Daily impact

A pilot scheme to provide subsidised lunches at West Hub on West Cambridge Campus is also being launched, lasting until February 2023. West Hub is open Monday to Friday from 8 am – 9 pm.

West Hub Site (Image Credit: Ståle Eriksen)

The Students Services centre on New Museums Site is also open from 9 am – 5 pm, containing a range of study and socialising facilities for staff and student use for free.

Protections for Staff

The university has also been taking measures to protect staff against rising living costs.

All non-clinical employees of University will receive an exceptional non-pensionable payment of 2% for 2022/23. This will be made in six monthly instalments of 4% of basic pay, starting in November 2022 and ending in April 2023, aiming to concentrate assistance over the winter months.

This payment is in addition to the sector-wide pay award of 3% which was implemented in September, and backdated to 1 August 2022.

The Staff Hardship Grant has also been reintroduced from the COVID-19 pandemic. This consists of non-repayable and taxable grants of up to £1250 for those experiencing significant financial hardship and are not eligible for an Employee Welfare Loan.

Staff can also receive discounts on a range of household items, including supermarket groceries, via the CAMbens scheme.

Student Union Response

Undergraduate Students were later contacted by the Student Union, on 27th October, calling for participation in a survey of undergraduate living costs. It is anticipated that the data gathered will be used to create a Cost of Living Index to create change within colleges and the university.

A similar survey has already been completed for postgraduate students over the Summer holiday of  2022, the results of which are already feeding into the Cost of Living Index.

The SU has launched a Cost of Living Campaign and expects to make the crisis ‘top of their agenda’ in the year to come.

Feature Image Credit: Matilda Head