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Improve cost of living support for students, Vice-Chancellor urges ministers

Greater support should be provided to students worried about their living costs whilst at University, according to an independent panel of experts including Professor Paul O’Prey, Roehampton’s Vice-Chancellor.

Posted: 23 June 2015

image for news story Improve cost of living support for students, Vice-Chancellor urges ministers
Roehampton's Vice-Chancellor is calling on Government to provide more cost of living help for students.

Greater support should be provided to students worried about their living costs whilst at University, according to an independent panel of experts including Professor Paul O’Prey, Roehampton’s Vice-Chancellor.

The Student Funding Panel was established by Universities UK to review the impact of changes to tuition fees and living costs introduced during 2012-13, when fees rose to a maximum of £9,000 per year. Universities UK is the umbrella group for higher education in the United Kingdom.

The vast majority of the 3,000 students interviewed for its latest report were concerned about their living costs. Respondents were more likely to be worried about meeting the costs of living than tuition fees, the report said. It said the current system of student tuition funding in England, including the £9,000 a year fees, was broadly fit for purpose, did not require wholesale reform, and needed to be given time to work.

This finding led to a recommendation from Professor O’Prey and other panel members in their report for cost of living funding arrangements to be improved. Both the quality, and targeting of funds to those who most need them, should be reviewed, the report stated.

Professor O’Prey said: “Students studying at all London universities face some of the highest rent and transport costs in the country and we’re convinced more could be done to improve the situation so students and parents can be sure of a reasonable quality of life through an improved maintenance loans and grants combination. 

“At Roehampton we recognise the issue, and provide a full package of advice and financial options, but Government needs to reflect deeply on whether to maintain the status quo or ideally improve arrangements for living costs. Making cuts to this important area would be a retrograde step for the thousands of normal students who are the first in their families to consider university, or who do not come from wealthy backgrounds where they can be independently supported.”

The University of Roehampton provides internal and external grants, loans and scholarships and runs a student hardship fund to help those who may be considering leaving because of the costs. Financial advice is available on campus and details of all support available can be found on the student funding pages of the university website.

The Government is currently considering how to save £450 million from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ budget, which is responsible for the vast majority of higher education sector funding.

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