University of London signs open letter calling for the government to support university students

Open Letter to the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Education Secretary demands more support for university students

An Open Letter addressed to Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Gavin Williamson CBE, has been signed by the vice-chancellors of the University of Essex, Goldsmiths, the University of London, the University of Kent, Royal Holloway, the University of East Anglia, the University of Sussex and the University of Reading.

It appeals to the Government to play its part so that “university students are not forgotten or left behind”

The Letter begins by acknowledging that the signees universities “have sought every opportunity to support our students”, at great financial costs to the institutions. It then appeals to the government, in light of the ever increasing “opportunity and wealth gap between the young and old” to “increase its support for this generation of students”.

The writers suggest that one means to relieve immediate economic and mental stress on students who have suffered silently throughout the pandemic is through “an equivalent 15 month interest waiver on student loans”, as a way of eliminating some of the pressure graduates of the covid generation will experience in the early stages of their careers.

The Letter goes on to recognise the unprecedented challenges faced by students during the pandemic, noting that in some universities “demands for hardship funds have increased by over 100%”. Not to mention the exponential rise in mental health challenges. It also acknowledge the technological disadvantages from which many students have suffered during the pandemic and remarkably little has been said. The Letter states that 18%, almost one fifth of “students lack access to a computer, laptop or tablet”, thus it is imperative that “additional government support is an urgent priority”.

With regard to the prospects of finalists, the Letter notes that this year’s graduates will be “entering into a desperately challenging job market” and calls for the Government to make allowances for the difficulties graduates will face. Specifically, the writers of the Letter call for “Government flexibility in the use of the Apprenticeship Levy and funding for bite-size qualifications, aligned to urgent priorities for higher-level skills and flexibility in using other sources of government funding”.

You can read the full Open Letter text here.