Students launch campaign for one-off cost of living payment from Edinburgh University
The petition follows the introduction of similar schemes at other universities
A student group at the University of Edinburgh has launched a campaign for the university to give all its students a one-off payment amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.
It follows decisions at universities in Manchester and Belfast to give students hundreds of pounds of direct financial support. New data has revealed almost half of UK students are living on less than £100 per month after rent and bills have been paid.
The 93% Club Edinburgh, which campaigns on behalf of students from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds, has created an online petition where students can register their support for the campaign. It says it is required because “students have been systematically left out of government support schemes”.
A statement by the group’s president, Andrew Wilson, added that they believe the university has a duty of care to “step in and provide support” in the form of a cash payment to every Edinburgh student.
The University of Edinburgh says helping students through the cost of living crisis is one of its top priorities. A spokesperson told The Edinburgh Tab there are already a number of financial aid schemes in place for students, as well as reduced food on campus, free shower facilities and tech available for free hire.
Similar schemes at other UK universities include the University of Manchester’s plan to give its full-time students £170 and its part-time students £85, a package totaling £9 million.
Queen’s University Belfast is also stepping in, providing their full-time and part-time students with £400 and £150, respectively. The new petition encourages Edinburgh University to “follow their lead”.
Additionally, the group highlights the university’s annual income of approximately £1.2 billion and Principal Peter Mathieson’s salary of £342,000. It suggests that the university’s money could be spent better to address students’ needs, as they “have been left with no extra targeted support in the face of rising food and fuel costs and inflation at over 10%”.
The University of Edinburgh does currently offer a Hardship Fund for those with no funding support of their own. However, the student group says that the current cost of living crisis is affecting each and every student, and the situation requires more broad solutions.
The university says any student struggling with the cost of living should in get in touch to seek help, and emphasised that its accommodation rent prices have been fixed since November 2021.
The Edinburgh Tab asked The 93% Club why all of the university’s students should receive the payment, rather than just those most in need, to which a spokesperson for the group said a universal approach has already been adopted at other universities, and is the best method for ensuring students are supported.
Established in 2020, The 93% Club is a national network of university societies that campaign to improve conditions for students who are socio-economically and educationally disadvantaged. Their primary aim is to “challenge the politics that hinder social mobility, and speaking out and taking action on these issues” where possible.
Students across the country are being hit by rising inflation and the soaring costs of energy, food and rent. A new survey found that nine in ten UK students are concerned about paying bills, with some skipping lectures to reduce costs.
A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “One of our top priorities is to help students with the rise in the cost of living, as we know many will be worried about their finances this winter. We have significantly increased the funding available to provide more support for students who are experiencing financial difficulties. There is an application process to access this hardship funding and staff are on hand to guide students through this. We encourage any of our students facing financial difficulties to get in touch to find out what support is available to them. If possible, we ask that applications are submitted by 6 December 2022.
“We have a number of provisions on campus to help students manage their finances. This includes fixing our café rates for the academic year, with soup or filled rolls available for £1.50. A range of IT and tech equipment is also available for students to loan, and many of our buildings have access to microwaves and showers.
“To protect students from rising bills, we chose not to increase prices for University accommodation since rent levels were agreed in November 2021. Our students pay a standard rent that includes all utilities and the University has absorbed recent additional costs; our rental rates remain some of the lowest in the sector.”
- More details about the financial support available to students can be found here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/student-funding/hardship-funding
- More details on how we are supporting students with the cost of living can be found here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/students/finance/cost-of-living
Andrew Wilson, President of The 93% Club, said: “The 93% Club Edinburgh is calling on the University of Edinburgh to make a cost of living payment to all students to financially support them during this cost of living crisis.
“Whilst over half of UK university students are being left with less than £100 a month after rent and bills, they have been systematically left out of government support schemes and left with no extra targeted support.
“It has recently been announced that the University of Manchester is making £170 cost of living payments to their students, and Queen’s University Belfast is making £150 cost of living payments to their students.
“We’re asking, why won’t the University of Edinburgh do the same? We demand that the University of Edinburgh steps up and listens to our calls as the cost of living crisis worsens and as winter bites, students may face the painful choice between freezing or starving.”