The University of Manchester Students’ Union has secured £360,000 in funding from the University to help with the cost-of-living crisis.
The Mancunion can exclusively reveal that on Tuesday, September 27, the University of Manchester’s Senior Leadership team, led by President and Vice-Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell, approved an initial package of £260,000 of support for students. Previously, £100,000 of funding had been earmarked by the University to support its students through the cost-of-living crisis.
This package of support is the product of a newly formed Cost-of-Living working group, which includes members from across the University and Students’ Union. The group has been meeting weekly since late summer to discuss strategies for dealing with the crisis.
Many of the measures funded by the support package will focus on short-term actions the University and SU can take to mitigate the crisis’ effects; however, the working group are still discussing long-term solutions beyond the immediate need for action.
“Cosy Campus”, the Students’ Union’s flagship scheme to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, is one initiative funded by the package. £100,000 was previously allocated to fund the scheme, which creates designated spaces for students to seek relief from the cold weather.
Included in the “Cosy Campus” initiative are three “Bring and Ping’ areas. These contain free to use microwaves, boiling water taps, and food preparation areas, meaning students can prepare basic hot meals whilst reducing the cost of their energy bills.
The three areas are located on the ground floor of University Place, the Main Library, and the Dover Street Building – the last of which also has a social study and charging space adjacent to the “Bring and Ping” area. Plans to add board games and blankets to the Main Library space are also included in the funding, with these additions expected to be introduced from mid-October.
The support package also includes an addition of £60,000 to the Emergency Hardship Support fund to make financial aid available within 24 hours for those most in need, without requiring detailed financial evidence such as bank statements. Furthermore, £10,000 will be added to existing funds of £15,000 to create a new Debt Advisor position within the SU.
Other provisions covered by the package include a further £60,000 to increase student employment on campus and £20,000 for the creation of a Rent Guarantor scheme to support care-experienced and estranged students. £30,000 has also been allocated to bolster the SU advice service’s emergency loan fund, providing rapid relief for students in financial difficulty.
Following the SU’s previous commitment of £15,000, £35,000 will be added to the Recreational Grant, aiming to reduce barriers to the social side of university. Funds will be used to subsidise society memberships, specialist kit, and volunteering opportunities for certain students. The move comes after 77% of students have said they will cut back on socialising through the cost-of-living crisis.
In a statement seen exclusively by The Mancunion, the Students’ Union said: “so far, the University has shown admirable partnership … and have taken our call for action seriously.”
“… the Students’ Union is hopeful that the joint working group will continue to produce effective, meaningful actions to mitigate against the Cost-of-Living crisis.”
“As always, student voice is at the heart of everything we do at the Union, and we welcome suggestions and thoughts from students on what kind of support they want to see from us, and the University.”
You can read the Students’ Union’s detailed plans to tackle the cost-of-living crisis here.