MP highlights Newcastle University students’ financial struggles in Parliament

MP Chi Onwurah questioned the government on why students are being punished in a time of crisis

Labour MP, Chi Onwurah, spoke in Parliament on Monday quizzing education minister, Robert Halfon, on why students are being punished during the cost of living crisis.

The MP for Newcastle Central said that 41 per cent of students had considered dropping out of university as a result of money struggles, in a survey by Newcastle University’s SU.

She claimed that, whilst studying, many students are working part or even full time to make ends meet and are getting increasingly exhausted.

Speaking in Parliament, she said: “The student union food bank is restocked daily and is emptied quickly, with the record being within seven minutes.

“The Minister knows that his additional hardship fund works out at about £10 per student, and students are £1,500 worse off because of the mismanagement of maintenance loans. Why is he punishing students like this?”

The Minister of State, Robert Haflon, from the Department for Education, claimed that they’ve increased this year’s student premium by £15 million, which is now worth £276 million.

He thanked Newcastle University for their support in opening a package of services totaling £1.7 million.

Mr Haflon said: “Students whose family income falls below a certain level can apply to the Student Loans Company to have their loan reassessed.”

The minister also claimed that those students living in private accomadation can get a £400 rebait on energy bills.

In October last year, Newcastle University’s SU opened up their own food pantry for students as a result of the cost of living crisis.

The plans followed a survey by ‘Save the Student’ in 2022, who said that 82 per cent of students were worried about making ends meet, with one in 1o saying they’ve used a food bank in the last year.

According to the Office for National Statistics, around 45 per cent of students reported that their mental health had worsened since the start of the autumn term in 2022.

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