Responding to the announcement that the Northern Ireland Assembly will provide an additional £37.7 million to support students, NUS-USI President Ellen Fearon said:
“This is a very welcome announcement after an extremely difficult year for students. Students have struggled throughout the pandemic facing financial stress, isolation, academic pressures, housing problems, additional caring responsibilities and digital inequality. It is imperative that the £500 Covid disruption grant is available to students as soon as possible.
This significant win comes after months of campaigning with and from our Students Unions and student campaigners. We’ve seen almost £40 million to support students this week.
It’s important that students who are not eligible for this grant, including part-time students and international students, are also financially supported. The majority of students in Northern Ireland are in further education yet they have largely been left out of this package. We need to see urgent investment to support these students.
This is just the start. We need to remove the barriers to students accessing hardship funds given the impact of job losses and most students do not have access to benefits or Universal Credit. We need to see long term solutions to fix this broken student finance system. Students Deserve Better.”