Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, has written an open letter to the Senior Management team of the University. This is a written in response to the funding for the National Scholarship Programme being cut by the Government. The immediate cuts will affect students who have already applied for places for the 2014/15 accademic year unless the University provide support with their own funds. The letter is part of a campaign launched by YUSU which was reported yesterday. The University is expected to make an official statement about its actions on Monday. Below is Taylor's open letter:
To the Senior Management Group,
We write to you with the urgent request that you plug the gap of £709,000 left by the National Scholarship Programme cut out of your own funds. This would be in order to make sure that no student already in the application cycle misses out on any of the funding they will have expected to have received when choosing to apply at York.
There will have been many positive reasons for their choice, such as York's reputation as a leading UK University, the city of York itself, the college system, the extra-curricular and developmental opportunities offered by YUSU and not forgetting too, the University's exciting expansions and redevelopments.
For a considerable number though, the one factor considered before all of those would be whether or not they'd be able to get through their time at York without hard concerns about finance compromising their student experience in a detrimental manner. This is why York has a moral obligation to these students.
Plug the gap.
Like yourselves, we were shocked at the early announcement from BIS and HEFCE that £100m would be removed from the NSP in the 2014/15 academic year.
We recognise that it's not been convenient for you and your departments, who have spent time and resources in planning and marketing on certain expectations. One such expectation would be that that during the 2014/15 year you would still be able to deliver bursaries, fee waivers and other means of support worth an anticipated £1,065,000 from the NSP.
Regrettably for all of us, this income has dropped to £356k. This means that no matter how cleverly the little remaining funds are played, there is still less money for those who will definitely need it.
That's less money for those of the 2014/15 intake - money which they will need.
Plug the gap.
There are numerous other institutions who are acknowledging this. Not only are competitors not burying their heads in the sand (like we risk doing), they're also acknowledging their moral obligation and are actually plugging the gap either completely or mostly for the next academic year.
Doing this will also give those institutions - and York if it follows suit - more time to plan a smart, longer term solution which is of maximum benefit to students.
If you don't plug the gap, simply speaking; it'll look terrible today.
More importantly, it'll look even worse in the long term.
The problems arising from all of those students who would be struggling to even cover their rent (yet alone live and learn) would illuminate a very cold approach to widening participation, retention and helping everyone here reach their potential - regardless of any social or economic obstacle.
We, the students we represent now, and those who have already clicked the 'apply' button - or even had offers accepted for 2014/15 - expect the University of York to plug this gap.
It's worth noting that we do appreciate the decision to direct the entirety of the small remainder of the NSP funding to bursaries through finally doing away with the questionable tuition fee waivers.
Anyone can do that though. Let's deal with this properly and fairly.
Plug the gap.
For one time only let your record breaking surpluses take the hit, as opposed to the experiences of hundreds of students starting their time at the University next year. It will speak volumes.
Plug the gap, so that we can all have a good Christmas.