YUSU and students have launched a campaign urging the University to ‘plug the gap’ in bursary funding.
This comes after the Government cut funding to the National Scholarship Programme, lowering the minimum award available to students from £3,000 to £2,000.
There are also plans to stop the Scholarship completely for undergraduates by 2015–16, instead making it a postgraduate scheme.
The programme’s website states that ‘no funding for undergraduates will be allocated beyond this point’.
The scheme was set up alongside the new fees system to support those students applying for higher education with household incomes of £25,000 or less.
At the University of York, 171 Scholarships worth £4,500 each were taken up in 2012/2013 and 303 this academic year. This will be greatly cut under the new measures.
In response, students have launched an online campaign, backed by YUSU asking the University to provide the money themselves – having turned over a £9m surplus this for the 2012/13 academic year.
Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, explained: “York has a massive record surplus… So why aren’t they stepping up? We’re saying, plug the gap for one year to do the next intake of students justice, and give ourselves time to work on a better, smarter long term solution to this cut.”
Josiah Mortimer, a politics student at the University of York, told Nouse: “I’m not sure I would have been able to come to York without the full bursary – it’s meant I have gone through uni without significant financial worry or stress. Cutting it would be a disaster for students like me who’s parents can’t afford to support them financially. The university would be cutting itself off from working-class people altogether were it to slash the support funding. I hope they think really clearly about what effect it would have in turning York into a bastion of privilege instead of an open and pluralistic campus.”
Taylor added that the funds have been “ripped away from students who have applied to York for the next academic year. The University now has ‘a moral obligation to plug this financial gap for this year’s intake.”
He continued: “We often hear about their commitment to supporting those more in need, and they have a great opportunity here to back that up. Many other institutions are doing so; lots of which are competitors of ours.”
George Offer, Welfare and Community Officer, said: “York need to step up and make the commitment, as many other uni’s have, to students already applying to study here next year”. He went on to say that it “means that many students who would otherwise not be able to afford to study at York can.”
The campaign has received widespread support on Twitter and those involved are urged to email any member of the senior management group here.
This year the University turned over a surplus of of £8.7m, slightly ahead of the institution’s targets.
The University also claim that their £150m debt is “easily manageable” allowing them to invest in buildings and facilities and the deficit is forecast to tumble over the next four years.
Despite calls to ‘plug the gap’ in funding for bursaries, last week Nouse revealed that the University faced criticism for choosing to spend money on more six figure salaries instead.
The news came as lecturers went on strike over pay and conditions and were described by Taylor as ‘Uncomfortably top heavy.’
The University plans to make an official statement about its actions on Monday. Taylor has written this open letter to the senior management team.