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Students: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 136104, tabled on 11 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing additional support for university students who have caring responsibilities for children and who are engaged in university studies alongside home tutoring.

Answered on

19 January 2021

We realise that this is an incredibly difficult time for students and are aware of the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on some students.

It is for higher education (HE) providers as autonomous bodies to identify and address the needs of their student body and many providers have boosted their existing welfare services to ensure students are able to access the support they need.

I have written to Vice Chancellors at every opportunity, outlining that student welfare should remain a priority and convened a working group of representatives from the higher education and health sectors to specifically address the current and pressing issues that students are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Going forward, HE providers should continue to be innovative in how they identify issues and support their students

The department has also worked closely with the Office for Students (OfS) to help clarify that providers can draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Providers are able to use OfS Student Premium funding worth around £256 million for this academic year towards student hardship funds.

As announced last month, we are also making available up to £20 million of additional hardship funding to support those that need it most, particularly disadvantaged students.

Guidance from the National Association of Student Money Advisers includes students with children as a priority group for hardship support.

Students will normally qualify for Child Benefit if they are responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training). Full-time students with children can also apply for Childcare Grant and Parents' Learning Allowance. Full-time students who are single parents or student couples, one or both of whom are responsible for a child, and part-time students responsible for a child can apply for Universal Credit.