I have been contacted by a large number of students in recent days and it is clear that many feel forgotten by the Government. This feeling was exacerbated by the announcement of the current lockdown and widespread confusion over whether students should return to university this month.
My Labour colleagues and I believe that far more support should be available, including mental health support and wider wellbeing services which are accessible to all students who need them (including those who are not on campus).
In light of the disruptions to learning and the experience students are receiving, I understand why many students are calling for increased hardship support, including rent and fees reductions.
I know that some universities have already been able to reach agreements on at least partial rent refunds with their students, as have some independent student housing providers. I am encouraging all universities and providers to engage with student representatives on this, recognising the clear injustice of students paying for housing and services that they are unable to access. We also know the current system of tuition fees and the burden of debt is unacceptable, and we must recognise that students are not currently receiving the full experience they deserve.
Locally, I have recently met with a group of student representatives from Goldsmiths to discuss these issues alongside other wider concerns. I am now in the process of organising a meeting with the warden, which I hope will happen very soon.
The pandemic has already had a massive impact on job and training opportunities for graduates. It is vital that action is taken to address these injustices now, so that students are in the best possible position to begin their post-university life.