Students launch campaign for one-off cost of living payment from Edinburgh University

The petition follows the launch of similar programs at other universities

A student group at the University of Edinburgh has launched a campaign for the university to give all its students a one-off payment amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

It follows decisions at universities in Manchester and Belfast to give students hundreds of pounds in direct financial aid. New data has shown almost half of UK students are living on less than £100 a month after paying their rent and bills.

The 93% Club Edinburgh, which works to support students from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, has created an online petition for students to express their support for the campaign. It said it was necessary because “students have been systematically excluded from government support programs.”

A statement from the group’s president, Andrew Wilson, added that they believe the university has a duty of care to “step in and provide support in the form of a cash payment to every Edinburgh student”.

The University of Edinburgh has not yet commented on the campaign.

Similar schemes at other UK universities include the University of Manchester’s plan to give its full-time students £170 and its part-time students £85, a package totaling £9 million.

Queen’s University Belfast is also stepping in, giving its full-time and part-time students £400 and £150 respectively. The new petition encourages Edinburgh University to “follow their example”.

The group also highlights the university’s annual income of around £1.2 billion and Principal Peter Mathieson’s salary of £342,000. It suggests that the university’s money could be better spent addressing the needs of students, who are “left without additional targeted support in the face of soaring food and fuel costs and inflation exceeding 10%”.

The University of Edinburgh currently offers a Hardship Fund for those who do not have financial support of their own. However, the student group says the current cost-of-living crisis is affecting every single student and the situation calls for broader solutions.

The Edinburgh Tab asked the group why all students at the university should receive the payment and not just those most in need, to which a spokesman for the 93% Club said that a universal approach has already been adopted at other universities and is the best method of ensuring that the students are supported.

Founded in 2020, The 93% Club is a national network of university societies committed to improving conditions for socio-economically and educationally disadvantaged students. Its main objective is to “challenge the policies that hinder social mobility and to speak out and take action on these issues” where possible.

Students across the country are being hit by soaring inflation and rising costs for energy, groceries and rent. A new survey found nine in 10 UK students are worried about paying bills, with some skipping classes to cut costs.

Andrew Wilson, President of the 93% Club said:

“The 93% Club Edinburgh is calling on the University of Edinburgh to make a living payment to all students to help them financially during this cost of living crisis.

“While over half of UK university students are left with less than £100 a month after rent and bills, they have been systematically excluded from government support schemes and left without additional targeted support.

“It was recently announced that the University of Manchester would pay its students £170 in cost of living and Queen’s University Belfast would pay its students £150 in cost of living.

We wonder why isn’t the University of Edinburgh doing the same? We demand that the University of Edinburgh stand up and listen to our calls as the cost of living crisis worsens and students face the painful choice of freezing to death or starving in the winter.”

The University of Edinburgh has been asked to comment on this story.

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