University Students Facing Hardship During Lockdown

I have received a huge volume of emails from students living in my constituency who are understandably concerned and disappointed at the Government’s response to the financial and academic difficulties which continue to impact students during this pandemic.
I know that university students have been under immense pressure during lockdown. The mental health charity, Mind, reports that 73% of university students stated that their mental health had declined during lockdown in a survey carried out last year. Nearly half of the students also reported difficulties accessing mental health support which consequently made their mental health worse. 
I think that it is ludicrous and unjust that students are expected to pay for accommodation they are not able to use, and they are expected to bear this financial burden at a time when many will have lost their sources of income. I entirely support the requests for a relaxation of rental obligations, early release from leases signed in entirely different circumstances, and release from unaffordable rental demands. 
The Universities Minister has recently announced a further £50 million rise in student hardship funding this week, however this only amounts to £25 per student in England. My Labour colleague, Paul Bloomfield MP, who is currently the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Students, has led an inquiry which has recommended that the Government should substantially increase hardship funding for rental costs on properties that cannot be accessed, lost income, digital poverty and other unexpected costs.
On 3 February I asked the Universities Minister if the Government would listen to the plight of students and agree to a full rent rebate for students living in both private and university-provided accommodation. You may watch this here 
I am in touch with the Guild Officers at the University of Birmingham to hear directly from students who need greater support from the Government and I will be meeting with them to discuss this further.
I know that students will feel that they have been forgotten by the Government. Alongside my Labour colleagues, I will continue to urge the Government to back proposals for greater funding and support for students facing hardship in this difficult time.

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