The University announced yesterday where they will be investing the money not spent on salaries during this academic year’s two waves of industrial action. Previously, we were told that this money would be spent on “student-facing initiatives”, to be decided in consultation with student representatives.
Now, it has been announced in an email from John Robinson, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, that over £850,000 of withheld cash will be invested into three separate funds to support students. Over £450,000 will go into a new Individual Student Learning Opportunity Fund, with the remaining £200,000 each going into a new Student Projects Fund and the Student Support Fund. Robinson hopes that these investments will mitigate the financial impacts of the industrial action on “student experience in different parts of the University”. But what exactly are these funds, and what do they mean for students?
The Individual Student Learning Opportunity Fund has been described by Robinson as a “goodwill gesture” to make grants to students who “experienced the most impact from the industrial action who wish to pursue further learning opportunities”. Eligible students must have lost 33% or more of their contact time during the strike periods. The grant is for extracurricular learning opportunities such as books, conferences, and short courses, which must have a clear benefit to the student’s academic progress or career development. If you’ve lost 33-65% of your contact hours, the maximum grant you can receive is £150, with a cap of £300 if you’ve lost over 65%.
The Student Projects Fund will be used to “support student activity by organised groups within the University”. This includes, but is not limited to, YUSU and GSA organisations, college initiatives, sports clubs, societies, and volunteering groups. Robinson stated in his email that the eligibility and applications for this fund are similar to those of YuFund, with the key differences being: you don’t need to identify a YuFund focus area, there is no restriction on the project’s operational costs, and bids will be judges by an independent panel of YUSU and University representatives. Applications will be considered in four application rounds, which you can find outlined further in Robinson’s email.
The Student Support Fund, formerly called the Student Hardship Fund, is described on the University’s website as for students “experiencing unexpected financial difficulty due to an unforeseen change in their circumstances”. This grant is designed with longer-term funding in mind, dependent on the individual’s financial situation.