Thursday 18-02-2021 - 10:08
Following an allocation of £37.7 million for third level education, full time higher education students in Northern Ireland were told that they would receive a one-off discretionary payment of £500.
We welcomed this payment
which acknowledged the financial hardship which many students have experienced and continue face throughout the pandemic.
But over three quarters of our student population aren’t entitled to the payment. Further education, part-time and non-EU international students do not qualify for the scheme despite many of them facing similar levels of financial difficulty.
Ellen Fearon, NUS-USI President said: “The response to our petition has been fantastic and I hope it will encourage the Economy Minister to review the parameters of the Covid Disruption Payment.
“It makes very little sense that out of two students in similar financial situations, one may not qualify for the scheme simply because they are studying a further education course rather than higher education.
“Many international students are being charged much higher tuition fees with no access to student loans and are in great need of financial support. And part-time students often have additional caring responsibilities which limits their ability to work or study full-time. It seems that some of the students who are in greatest need have been left out of the scheme for no apparent reason.
“Students deserve better than the circumstances they have faced this year, and extending this payment would be a step in the right direction”
The petition has been submitted to the NI Assembly’s Business Office with hopes that it can be presented to the Assembly in the coming weeks.