President’s Update – Meeting the Minister of State for Universities
It has been a while since I last provided an update to you and we had some really exciting stuff happen over the last week that I wanted to share with you.
Charlie, Patrick and I met the Minister of State for Universities Michell Donelan for the second time this academic year. You might remember the first time was around late September and we talked about all the provisions we put in place during Covid to make your experience better. This time, however, we met as a result of a letter we sent to ask for better support for you. Indeed we sent two letters since November and we had a follow up meeting with Michelle Donelan to reiterate the difficulties students are facing financially. We asked for more support to the University so that they can channel that money to you. We also asked for support for student rents, as we know that most of you still need to pay rent in the private accommodation even when you are unable to use that at the moment.
One thing that I focused on specifically was the difficulties international students are facing. I asked the clause of “no public funds” to be suspended from visas, enabling international students to make use of the support available to avoid the saddening scenes of international students queueing for food banks. I also inquired about vaccination and whether international students will be able to receive that. Finally, I commented on the flexibility of the Home Office (they don’t ask Universities to report on student attendance) for the time being and asked it to be continued after the Covid arrangements too so that if need be you can take a Leave of Absence without worrying about the financial implications of losing your current visa and leaving your accommodation.
The Minister told us that we will hear some positive news about international students soon but did not reveal the content. So, I am looking forward to hearing more and keeping you posted.
As always, please let me know if you have any ideas that I can work on.