Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called on the Department for the Economy to set-up a student hardship grant to support those suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
The party’s economy spokesperson said:
“I and party colleagues have been contacted by students who are facing financial difficulties having lost part-time jobs which supplemented their student loan for living costs.
“While universities have hardship funds in place these are limited and for the most part, with some exceptions, students are unable to access benefits like Universal Credit.
“Most students still have significant outgoings in terms of rent, as well as living costs and other costs associated with study, and of course some students are also parents or carers.
“A lot of students who live in rented accommodation during term time have returned home to self-isolate but are still facing ongoing accommodation costs in the private rented sector.
“I have called on the Economy Minister to set-up a student hardship grant scheme with a simplified application process that can be administered quickly, to support those impacted financially as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
“I have also called on the minister to urge landlords to support students by ending contracts early and returning deposits where possible.”