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Students: Housing

Question for Department for Education

UIN 92873, tabled on 21 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of providing support to university students unable to provide a guarantor to secure their accommodation.

Answered on

29 September 2020

We do not collate or currently hold information pertaining to the number of university students unable to provide a suitable guarantor for securing their accommodation.

Any student struggling to provide a guarantor should, in the first instance, speak to the specialist accommodation team at their higher education (HE) provider to discuss the options available to them. Some HE providers operate a rent guarantor scheme for those students unable to provide a suitable guarantor to secure their accommodation. Students will receive scheduled payments of loans towards their living costs for the current 2020/21 academic year. Many HE providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need.

The expectation is that, where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.

The government is aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students. Officials are working with the sector to continue to monitor the situation.

The government has already worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Providers were able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April to July, this year and £256 million for the 2020/21 academic year starting from August, towards student hardship funds, including the purchase of IT equipment and mental health support as well as to support providers’ access and participation plans.

We have also allocated £100 million to support remote education, including to provide routers and laptops to vulnerable students, prioritising care leavers, including those at university.

The Student Space platform, which is funded by the OfS, bridges gaps in support for students arising from this unprecedented situation and is designed to work alongside existing services.