Liberal Democrats

The government must do more to protect students.

Students have been hit hard by lockdown. For many, the current uncertainty has left them without enough money to get by. Wera Hobhouse is fighting to protect them.

By Wera Hobhouse, Apr 14, 2020 5:04

Four graduates looking away from camera.

Two weeks ago, I joined forces with a cross-party group of MPs representing University Towns. We wrote to the Chancellor to ask him to do more to support University Students during this crisis.

The letter, signed by 18 MPs, asked him to “make sure that students are not the group to be forgotten as the nation is grappling with economic fall-out from the Covid19 crisis”.

Countless students have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and lockdown

We have yet to receive a response from the Government.

Countless students have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and lockdown.

In temporary student jobs with high employee turnover, it's easy to fire an employee to and hire from the new cohort of students next year. Employers in this situation are therefore less likely to go through the administrative cost, and uncertainty, of placing staff on furlough.

And yet students do not have access to the support networks available to the rest of us. For a start, they are not eligible to apply for Universal Credit.

How they will complete their degree, sit their exams, or fulfil hands-on aspects of their study programme? Not only that, many students now have to worry about how they will pay the bills over the next few months.

Many students now have to worry about how they will pay the bills over the next few months

Whilst some students will be able to return to a family home and fall back on their parents, thousands do not have this option.

By failing to address these concerns, the Government is saying that students from less privileged backgrounds don't matter. This is wrong.

As MP for Bath, a city which boasts two wonderful Universities, I have seen how the lack of support is impacting student’s lives.

One student wrote to me having already lost his employment.

He worked for 20 hours a week alongside his full-time degree for over three years. He used the money he had earned to help support himself – paying for his rent, food, book, and study supplies. He told me that now he had been sacked he was unable to live in Bath with a student loan and the small amount of he had left.

The Government must act urgently. They must protect students who may be in the same situation as my constituent.

Overlooking students during this crisis is harmful to both the individuals and University Towns. We run the risk that only the most privileged students will be able to continue getting a degree.

This Government has gone to great lengths to support varied sections of our communities. Students must not be forgotten.

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