Another increase of £3 million in bursaries!
I’m overwhelmed and delighted to announce that thanks to lobbying efforts on behalf of SUSU, in the academic year 2014/15, students could receive over £5 million in bursaries! A possible increase of over £3 million on this year, which was already a large increase on previous years! This is a huge step forward towards ensuring that finances are no longer a barrier to education at Southampton.
I believe that a strong system of direct financial support for students from poor backgrounds is a crucial part of ending student poverty. I’ve already written about the overwhelming benefits of bursaries when compared to fee-waivers, and in March, Union Council gave SUSU a formal stance.
At the start of this year, students who were entitled to direct financial support were given the choice between a fee-waiver and a bursary, however the default option for this choice was a fee-waiver. SUSU launched a quick campaign around the benefits of bursaries, which reached over 3000 students and helped ensure that still over £2.2 million of bursaries have been given out this academic year.
The University has now agreed to change the default option to bursaries, meaning that they could potentially give out over £5.2 million in bursaries. Many students this year missed out on a bursary, as a fee-waiver was the default option.
Whilst this year, SUSU had to be reactive and try to educate thousands of students about why bursaries can make such a difference, in future years, students will be able to feel the difference by having the money in their pockets. I truly believe that ensuring access to bursaries is crucial if we want a University community based on merit, not finances.
Not all of this bursary increase is due to lobbying efforts from SUSU. Some of the increase comes from the scrapping of the National Scholarship Program, which restricted some people to just getting fee-waivers, and some comes from third year students now being part of this system.
Thanks to all colleagues over at the University, particularly those in Student Services and iSolutions who have allowed this change to be made.
Thanks for reading – David Gilani – Union President