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University becomes first to issue £150 cost of living handouts to students

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 06/10/2022 Michael Murphy
The University of York's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said that the cost of living is one of the “biggest challenges facing our students” - Richard Baker © Richard Baker The University of York's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said that the cost of living is one of the “biggest challenges facing our students” - Richard Baker

A university has become the first in Britain to issue cost of living handouts to students struggling with energy prices. 

The University of York has offered £150 to households made entirely of students as part of a £6 million package to support those most affected by rising energy costs. 

The Household Energy Grant, which will support 2,200 houses, comes as the university found two thirds of their students were worried about their finances, with 11 per cent saying they didn't talk to anyone about their money worries.

A third of UK students now have £50 or less to live on per month after paying bills, according to a National Union of Students (NUS) report.

The University of York's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said that the cost of living is one of the “biggest challenges facing our students” as they arrive to start or resume their studies this term.

"And we know many are extremely concerned about how they will pay the bills,” he said. 

"Even though energy prices are now capped they will still be around twice the level of last year.

"Government support measures will have some impact, but many of our students face a very challenging situation.

'Considerable financial pressure'

"Whilst many of our students are accommodated on campus, the Household Energy Grant is aimed at supporting those students who live off campus and who face considerable financial pressure as energy bills rise."

The university, which was ranked 24th in the UK last year, said that it has plans to do more for its students in the coming months.

The package comes alongside policies including bursaries covering rent, emergency loans and an "Access Opportunities fund" from the student union allowing struggling students to join in with activities.

In January, the campus started providing free sanitary products. 

The NUS heralded the new support packages, but said the government needs to step in to help those left most vulnerable.

Chloe Field, the Vice President Higher Education, said the measures were a “big win” for York University Students' Union in getting its “students' needs to the top of the agenda”. 

She said: "We would encourage other institutions to follow York's lead, but the government also needs to take responsibility and put in place support for students across the country.

"So far, students have missed out on most government support.”

"Ministers should step in by urgently and dramatically increasing the level of maintenance support on offer to students, bring back non-repayable grants, and step into to take control of soaring rent, energy and transport costs," she added. 

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