Cambridge Colleges and University strive to mitigate student hardship

Cambridge Colleges and University strive to mitigate student hardship

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COVID-19 has dramatically altered our students’ university experience, radically changing the Cambridge they know and exacerbating any underlying disadvantages.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, many students across Cambridge have been affected by financial hardship. The Colleges, which are at the centre of student experience, have been providing financial support and pastoral care. Each College faces different circumstances and is responding to the crisis in a variety of ways, while ensuring student welfare remains a top priority.

In tandem, the University has created a dedicated fund to supplement College resources. To date, more than £500,000 has been donated to the fund. The money raised will go directly to supporting the students most in need. This will be through initiatives like emergency grants for travel costs and technology for remote learning. Longer-term, the fund may support a number of areas where students require additional resources, such as extended funding for PhD students whose research was interrupted by the pandemic, or those who need mental health support. 

I remember being a rather hard-up student and appreciating any financial help I received! And also realising what a difference a Cambridge education made to my whole life.

Donor Sally Alderson (Girton 1953)

Duncan*, an undergraduate studying English, is relieved by having additional support: “Normally I tutor GCSE and A-Level students during the holidays to help cover my living costs. All of the work over the Easter and summer vacations has been cancelled. Now I don’t have the same way to support my family, who are also facing financial difficulty because of COVID19.” 

Giulia* is studying for a PhD in Biochemistry and had to return to Italy at short notice, where she is finishing writing her thesis. She says “I cannot move home as my parents are elderly with underlying health conditions. I have already spent almost all my savings on paying double rent in Italy and Cambridge and cannot find work to cover the shortfall. It is such a relief to have support to pay this extra rent, as without it I would likely need to take out a loan.” 

Mark Wormald, Fellow at Pembroke and Secretary of the Senior Tutors Committee, is delighted that alumni are supporting students facing hardship. “It’s striking that, even in this time of financial downturn and difficulty, many alumni are thinking of students who are facing quite extreme situations and are doing what they can. This will not only help students to cope with short-term financial strain but — as recent research conducted by the University shows — will significantly alleviate their anxiety and enable them to plan for the future. It could really transform a student’s trajectory, so we are exceptionally grateful to all alumni who have supported students in hardship.” 

*Names have been changed to protect students’ privacy 

To find out more about supporting students in need and College priorities, please contact your College or:

Andrew Paterson

Senior Associate Director — Student Support

andrew.paterson@admin.cam.ac.uk

+44 (0)1223 332288

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