Image Credit: DS Pugh
The University of York has revealed that it will increase its financial support for care experienced and estranged graduates due to the current global COVID-19 Pandemic. The current bursary to help these graduates has seen an increase of £4 000, with graduates from a care background now receiving up to £5 000.
This bursary comes at an incredibly difficult time for all graduates due to the effects of the COVID-19. Last week, the Guardian reported that graduate job openings have fallen by 77% since the beginning of the year and at least 30% of students have lost a job or job offer due to the global pandemic. The economic repercussions of COVID-19 will certainly have a significant impact on students from a disadvantaged background.
The bursary is a part of the University’s Access and Outreach scheme which aims to support under-represented groups in higher education. In 2019, ministers asked universities to do more to support care leavers in higher education as a study found that only 6% of 19-21 year olds in care went on to higher education and those that did were twice as likely to drop out as their fellow students. That year, the University released a support package of free accommodation to students who are in care whilst studying.
Throughout the pandemic, the University has been commended as an example of good practice by the Office of Students due to its support for care leavers. The University has offered weekly check ins from University staff, online socials and found ways to mark personal celebrations such as birthdays.
With this bursary, the University is continuing its aim to up opportunities and combat inequalities and this particular scheme will help 18 students this year.
The University’s Student Advisor for estranged students and care leavers, Joanna Paluch Edwards, has stated that “students graduating this year are entering an uncertain job market and care leavers and estranged students are particularly vulnerable as they may not have a family home they can return to while they look for employment.”
The bursary has had a profound impact on affected students, with one such individual commenting:
“I am so thankful for the wonderful support. This has now allowed me to think more positively about securing myself a job by giving me the opportunity to look outside my own city without the concern of thinking how to support myself financially.”