Following the Students’ Union’s recent work on QMUL bursaries, we can announce that the University will be allocating an additional £200,000 for a financial assistance fund in 2018/19. The £200,000 will be made available to students adversely affected by the bursary changes, and is in addition to the formal allocation to bursaries previously agreed with OFFA a year ago. The fund has been made available following significant student feedback about the proposed changes.
The University recently announced that it was making a series of changes to the QMUL bursary scheme. These changes were met with concerns from both students and staff. In response to this, the Students’ Union launched a student feedback campaign on the issue, and has also met regularly with the University to raise its concerns about the proposals.
The additional funding announced today comes after a series of meetings between the Students’ Union and University Senior Management Team. Throughout these meetings, the Executive Officers have raised a number of concerns, and sought guarantees on the involvement of the Students’ Union in future discussions. Throughout all discussions with the University, we have ensured the voice of students participating in the occupation of the Octagon have been heard, and their feedback incorporated, alongside the other student feedback we received. We give thanks to all those involved in the Occupation who have occupied the Octagon since Monday 12th March, and continue to do so. The Occupation is in protest against the proposed cuts to student bursaries. More information about the occupation can be found on Twitter at @qmoccupy or #OccupytheOctagon, or on the Occupation website at https://occupyqueenmary.wordpress.com/.
- An additional £200,000 will be allocated from the 2018/19 budget to bursaries. This financial assistance fund is in addition to the formal allocation to bursaries agreed through OFFA a year ago, and is separate and outside of the hardship fund.
- Whilst the proposed bursary changes will continue, the Students’ Union has requested and agreed that a significant proportion of the £200,000 is made available to those students whose family income is in the £15,000-£30,000 bracket for the transitional period of 2018/19.
- Further discussions will take place about how the hardship fund should operate, who will be eligible and how students will apply. The University will ensure this is decided in agreement with the Students’ Union.
- The Students’ Union will sit on the University’s Access Monitoring Group and Steering Group to review agreements going forward.
- The Students’ Union President Yas Yeahia, and another Executive Officer, will be invited to the Queen Mary University Senior Executive meeting at the end of April, during which the Access Submission is considered and agreed.
- Funding will also be allocated towards research to understand how QMUL may be different to other institutions, which may in future influence and support decisions around student finance, bursaries and access agreements.
- We will work with the University to conduct a joint research project on the impact of bursaries, including data that covers retention; this includes welfare, reasons for withdrawal and extracurricular involvement in activities and opportunities. The Students’ Union and University will jointly establish the scope of the research, and will conduct the research together.
- The Students’ Union has requested that this decision is presented and endorsed by the University College Council.
Students’ Union President Yas Yeahia commented, “As a Students’ Union, we're pleased with the commitment from the University to provide an additional £200,000 for this fund for 2018-19. This follows a series of meetings with the University, who have responded to student feedback.
“Whilst we welcome the additional funding, further research is required to understand the impact and importance of bursaries to students. We have also secured guarantees from the University that we will continue to be involved in this research, and all future discussions relating to bursaries and the Access Agreement. Throughout all discussions we will continue to ensure that students’ voices are heard, valued and acted upon.
"We also thank those students who have been involved in the Occupation of the Octagon for continuing to highlight student concerns about the bursary cuts".
We value student feedback as part of our ongoing discussions with the University. Please submit your feedback here.