You may have noticed lots of activity around campus and heard people talking about cuts to the Queen Mary University of London Bursary. In the week commencing 12th March, students took part in demonstrations against the cuts announced by the University. Students have occupied the Octagon to raise awareness of the issue and to put pressure on the University to reverse the changes.
We’ve put together some information to explain what the changes are, why we’re opposing them and we want you to let us know what you think.
Tell us your views on the bursary changes using our online form www.qmsu.org/surveys/bursarychanges. All feedback will be passed to the University Senior Management team.
What are the changes to the QMUL Bursary?
It was announced towards the end of 2017 that the Queen Mary University of London Bursary would be vastly changed. In 2017-18, students with a residual household income of less than £25,000 were entitled to a £1,517 cash bursary per year of study, with those with a household income between £25,001 and £42,600 entitled to £1,256 per year.
Universities or colleges that want to charge tuition fees above £6,165 for home or EU graduates and postgraduates must have an access agreement. An access agreement sets out a fee limit for universities and they must set out what access measures they intend to put in place, which can include outreach work and financial support.
At QMUL in 2017-18, 30% of the additional fee income raised from tuition fees above the basic fee level was used to support additional outreach and retention measures, with this expenditure totalling £9.592 million. This was used through the bursary schemes to offer bursaries to students.
In the 2018-19 access agreement, the University will offer a revised £1,700 cash bursary per year of study to 2018-19 undergraduate entrants who come from households with a residual income of less than £15,000 or less and £750 to students who come from households with incomes between £15,001 and £30,000.
Why is the Students’ Union supporting action against the University?
In a motion passed at the Annual Student Meeting in February 2018, a motion was passed to support direct action against Queen Mary until adequate funding for the bursary is restored. The motion states that these cuts may affect the wellbeing of low-income students through the potential of changing the work-study balance, mental health issues, increased financial strain, debt and an inability to meet basic survival costs. It is unfair to cut the bursary scheme in such a drastic manner.
A study undertaken in 2015 by the NUS (National Union of Students) found that lack of financial security was one of the main reasons low-income students considered dropping out, with students wanting more access to cash support to mitigate this.
What do you think about the bursary cuts?
Tell us your views about the bursary changes using our online form here: www.qmsu.org/surveys/bursarychanges
Update - Friday 16th March
The Students’ Union is pleased to announce that we have arranged a meeting with QMUL Principal Colin Bailey. The meeting will take place on Monday, with Executive Officers and part-time officers in attendance. An invite has also been sent to students participating in #OccupytheOctagon.
The meeting has been arranged to highlight the widespread concern about proposed changes to QMUL student bursaries. This meeting takes place prior to the OFFA Access Group meeting on Wednesday 21st March, where the Students’ Union will attempt to reverse the proposed bursary cuts, to ensure our students get the best deal possible.