The University of York has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education ‘University of the Year’ award. The mark of recognition is widely referred to as ‘the Oscars of higher education.’ The nomination comes as the result of the University’s handling of the cost of living crisis.
Cost of living pressures have been rising across the UK since 2021. As a result, the University launched a number of initiatives to support affected students, including the introduction of a Cost of Living Hub, trained Cost of Living Ambassadors, energy grants, free meals for students and a crisis fund.
Academic Registrar Dr Wayne Campbell commented: “We’ve tried to be really responsive, creative - and ambitious - in our support package.”
The University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) launched their own cost of living resources, consisting of discounted meal prices at campus venues, activities access grants, free sanitary products and tips for reducing household bills.
The University revealed that working closely with the City of York Council also helped aid its handling of the crisis. In October 2022, the University and City Council co-hosted a ‘York Cost of Living Summit’, attracting 39 organisations. The summit strove to facilitate partnership building between the University and the city and, importantly, enable enterprise for York.
Councillor Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council, said: “The University has championed and been a catalyst for entrepreneurship, and helped drive initiatives to support the cost of living.”
However, physical schemes and initiatives were not the only factor at play. As events unfolded, the University turned to its Cost of Living Research Group for causes and impacts of the crisis. The group consists of academics devoting their time to research, advocating for vulnerable individuals, and aiming to find solutions for those affected.
In regards to the research, Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology, stated: “We’ve come together to respond and inform policy.”
The winning university will be announced in December 2023.