Northern Ireland

£1m student hardship fund announced

Stormont economy minister Conor Murphy.
Stormont economy minister Conor Murphy. (Aarom McCracken)

An extra £1m has been announced for students facing cost-of-living hardship at the north’s universities.

The additional funding has been announced by Stormont’s economy minister Conor Murphy, who said he was “acutely aware” of how cost-of-living increases have impacted those studying at Queen’s University, Ulster University, The Open University, St Mary’s University College and Stranmillis University College.

Students at these institutions who are facing hardship that may prevent them from completing their courses are eligible to apply.

“A thriving higher education sector is critical for a strong, regionally balanced economy and I am engaging with my officials to fully scope the options for further changes to financial and other means of support,” Mr Murphy said.

“I encourage any student who feels that they may be eligible for additional support to contact their higher education institution and apply. I also urge the institutions to ensure they apply eligibility criteria as flexibly as possible when considering applications for support from students.”

The north’s universities already operate existing hardship funds for students, while last year it was revealed the universities were the ‘least likely’ in the UK to operate food banks.

More than than a quarter of UK universities have a food bank service for students, while a Higher Education Policy Institute report also found that one in 10 UK universities have been giving out food vouchers to hard-up students.