University of Edinburgh Principal Peter Mathieson announced on Thursday in an email to students that additional funds arising from striking staff’s unpaid wages are to be invested in the Student Hardship Fund, as well as in an all-new Student Opportunity Fund.
On the topic of salaries forfeited by UCU members who took part in industrial action throughout February and March, Mathieson said “I have always been clear that that resource should be spent entirely on the student experience, with a focus on those of you who have been particularly affected by the industrial action.”
The move comes amid increasing pressure on universities up and down the country to compensate students in some way for the disruption caused by strikes. The universities of York and Reading have pledged unpaid staff wages to cover the cost of gown hire for all students graduating this year. Meanwhile earlier this week Asserton, the law firm representing a group of students across the country seeking compensation for lost contact hours, stated their belief that the claim would be successful.
Mathieson explained that increased investment in the Student Discretionary and Hardship Funds would match currently unmet demand for support for students unexpectedly facing financial difficulty. He added that going forward the fund would be able to provide support for financial problems relating to the hire of graduation gowns.
The Student Opportunity Fund, which opened to applications on Thursday, offers any student who lost more than 10 per cent of timetabled teaching hours in semester two of the 2017/18 academic year the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to £250 to attend events such as conferences or workshops. The fund will remain open for 12 months and will be open to all undergraduate and taught postgraduate students, even those who are no longer matriculated at the time of application.
For more details on how to apply for the Student Opportunity Fund, see the University of Edinburgh’s website.
Image: Andrew Perry