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£850k of unpaid salary money from strikes allocated to student-based funds

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning announced that the £850,000 surplus from the UCU strikes will go towards a Students Projects Fund, an Individual Opportunity Fund, and a Student Support Fund

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Image Credit: Patrick Hook-Willers

The email sent out to students from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning, John Robinson, outlined the three funds which the withheld salaries from the Autumn and Spring term UCU industrial action will go towards.

The University has worked with both YUSU and the GSA to invest a total of £850,000 into funds to help students. The email outlines that the University is therefore investing “£450,000 in an Individual Student Learning Opportunity Fund, £200,000 in a Student Projects Fund, and £200,000 in the Student Support Fund (formerly called the Student Hardship Fund).” Robinson states that the Individual Student Learning Opportunity Fund and the Student Projects Fund are “new”, and went on to outline how the two new funds worked and how students could apply to them.

Detailing the specifics of these funds, Robinson stated that the Individual Student Learning Opportunity Fund is supporting students who have “experienced the most impact as a result of the industrial action”, and that “the University has defined this as undergraduate or postgraduate taught students who, as a result of the industrial action, lost 33% or more of their contact events (lectures, seminars or labs) during the strike-affected period. On this basis, the University estimates that around 2200 students may be eligible to apply and benefit from this fund.” These students will be able to “apply to the fund for financial  support with further learning opportunities of their own choice.”

Students who are eligible for this fund will receive “the maximum grant payable”, which is  “£150.” However, “for students who lost 66% or more of their contact events, the maximum grant payable per student will be £300.” Students wishing to apply are to submit an online application, with details of both the lost contact hours as well as details of the learning opportunity that they wish to use the fund towards.

This fund can be used to “pay for learning opportunities of most kinds, including conferences, short/skills courses, books or ebooks, online courses, research/archive visits, and part-payment of longer or more expensive learning opportunities.” Robinson specified that “the fund cannot be used to pay towards degree-awarding programmes at the University of York or elsewhere. your chosen opportunity should have a clear benefit to your academic progress and/or career and/or skills development.”

The Students Projects Fund will be used to help student activities which are set up by organised groups at the University (such as YUSU, GSA, the Colleges etc.).
Taking to Facebook, Samara Jones, the YUSU President said that “we really wanted to ensure that there was not only something for those who were most affected by industrial action, but also something that could benefit the entire student body”, which is why student groups are receiving a share of the funds as well as affected students. Robinson stated that this fund is similar to YuFund, but with these differences:

  • There will be no requirement to identify a YuFund focus area
  • While YuFund is intended as a way to fund the development of projects rather than the project's operational costs, there are no restrictions on bids to the Student Projects Fund.
  • The funding bids will be judged by an independent review panel with representation from the University, YUSU and the GSA.

Applications to this fund will open from today (07 May 2020), and will be considered in four application rounds. Robinson stated that “after the closure of each round, applications will be considered by a panel of University senior management and representatives from YUSU and GSA.”

In the email, Robinson stated that “the University has committed to investing the money not spent on salaries (as a result of the strike action) on student-facing activity, to be decided in consultation with student representatives”, and therefore they believe that these funds are sufficient in satisfying this commitment, and are going towards helping individual students who have been affected by the strikes, and assisting student groups at the University.

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1 Comment

Jay Peters Posted on Thursday 13 Aug 2020

Good Article.

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